After the Ramones incident (see Part 1!), we decided to continue to open our home for needy dogs. We housed a small black dog named Houston before welcoming two terrier-Chihuahua puppies into our home.
I enjoyed those two weeks. Kathryn and Mira were sisters but displayed such contrasting personalities. While Mira preferred to snuggle on a lap, Kathryn bubbled with energy and always insisted on licking our faces. Mira had a ravenous appetite, and we continually referred to her as the female Garfield. Her tan coat inspired me to dress her up as a reindeer for the holiday, but she disliked the antlers. Kathryn’s sleek black-and-white fur reminded us of a cow, and I even mistook her for a skunk once.
Not quite the smartest dogs on the block, they would stare and bark savagely at the two other dogs in the window. They also chose a queer assortment of items to furnish their beds–I’ve found my father’s socks, my sister’s slippers, a dried pomegranate, an olive, and a snail shell in their “nest.” They would gnaw sticks and shoes, dig up the backyard, and excitedly chase every squirrel in sight. Once, I spotted Mira attempting to climb up a tree in pursuit of a bird, and I fell over laughing.
I loved Kathryn and Mira, but they required so much care. After all, if we struggled to maintain just one dog before, imagine handling two of them! Despite this, we adopted them last summer. The shelter gave us a short time to consider adoption, and we knew that we would never see them again, just like Ramones, if we returned them.
The first few months were rough. I took the primary responsibility of caring for the dogs. I can remember sweating in the August heat waiting, more like pleading, for them to do their business, so that I could return to the cool house. I can remember rubbing my aching head and praying that they would stop barking. I can remember dragging two stubborn, distracted puppies on leashes during walks. Relief came in the form of dog training pads, handy, humane bark collars, and dog-walking harnesses instead of collars. Also, I finally cemented in their brains that the couch was human, not K-9, domain.
As a dog owner, I’ve encountered numerous obstacles. The shelter supplied a coupon for their dog training classes, but even with the discount, the price was well over one hundred dollars. Perhaps you could say that in our household the dogs are as homeschooled as the children. Mira and Kathryn would scavenge nuts, olives, grass, and who-knows-what from our backyard, so I ignored most of the items on the list of foods dogs should never consume. Kathryn can fetch, but I can never trust her to return the ball. So far, both know how to sit and shake but will only obey if I am holding a treat. While I call that clever, my sister rolls her eyes, and my dad chuckles.
The pet store proved only partially useful, and I considered many products ridiculous. I do not mind brushing dog teeth or clipping nails, but I will object to buying frosted treats shaped like French bon bons or purchasing a frilly dog sweater labeled “Princess.” Our resourcefulness resulted in homemade toys and our frugality in using worn-out blankets for beds.
I still remember and miss Ramones even though I know that she has a family to love and take care of her. I feel content now because love isn’t just a feeling. It’s doing whatever is best for another despite what you desire. Mira and Kathryn can never replace Ramones, but they are our precious dogs, given to us by God.
If you have a story and would like to see it featured on this column, email me at email@example.com