Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Six degrees of...

Recently I've been doing a lot of reminiscing and thinking about times long since passed. It's fun to remember the good things and it's also good to remember the bad and see how far you've come since those days (I have come a long way that's for sure!).

Today at work I had the most random memory. I'm not even sure what prompted it and I can usually trace these things back to something, some sort of trigger, but not today. And this memory is in no way related to anything I've been reminiscing about or pondering recently.

Anyway, today at work I randomly remembered Tyler. Back in 2002 Ms. Ex and I decided it was time to get a dog. We each spent hours and hours and hours combing through the dogs available for adoption on Petfinder. We knew we wanted to rescue rather than buy from a petstore or breeder and we agreed that we wanted a smaller dog rather than a huge dog. I'd never had a dog before. In fact until I was in my early 20s I was scared of dogs. Getting bit in the face by a dog when you're three will do that to you I suppose.

After a ridiculous number of hours combing through all the dogs within like a billion mile radius of where we were living at the time Ms. Ex finally found one she really wanted to see. His name was Tyler and he was at a no kill shelter about two hours from home and a bit over an hour from my parents house. I forget exactly how it all went down, but somehow we arranged a visit to the shelter and a visit to my parents for the same weekend.

Ms. Ex had grown up with a Welsh Terrier and really wanted another terrier type dog and Tyler definitely fit that bill even though he was a mix (a very cute mix, I'll give you that).

When we got to the shelter we were told we'd need to drive down the road to the house of the woman who ran the place because that's where Tyler was being kept. So, we got back in the car and followed her out the driveway only to have her pull over not too far down the road. She got out and walked over into the horse pasture across the road. Confused we sort of sat there until she walked back over to our car and asked us to please help her contain the horses while she went to get some wood to fix the broken fence.

Yes, that's right we stood in a horse pasture for an hour while waiting for her to get the materials and people to help her fix the fence. Because really, that's what we were there for and that's what you ask two complete fucking strangers to do on your way to seeing a dog they want to adopt. But stand there we did, bewildered the entire time.

After that detour we drove to her house where she was keeping god knows how many dogs in the garage. She led us around the back to her fenced in yard and asked us to wait while she got Tyler. A couple minutes later the door opened and out shot this small white ball of fur who proceeded to race around the yard. I bent down to try to pet him and he promptly leapt up and bit me square on the chin. He didn't break the skin thankfully.

We visited with him for a few minutes, but I'd already made up my mind this was definitely NOT the dog for me. He was far too hyper. And besides that he BIT me. I think the woman knew we wouldn't be taking him and she asked us to come see one other dog before we left. We agreed to humor her so back in our cars we got to drive back to the shelter to see this other dog. The one she thought would be far more suited to us.

When we got there she walked us past the goats and the pot belly pigs to the outdoor runs next to the cat house (literally a brick house which was home to all the stray cats). As we walked up we saw this small, mostly black dog climbing the fencing of her run. This was Joanie. This was the dog that the woman wanted us to see. I was already convinced this visit wasn't going to go well either. The woman leashed her up and led her out of the run and we all went to sit on the front steps of the cat house. Joanie sealed her fate then by sitting next to me and leaning her entire body gently against me before licking my ear.

Joanie had been rescued from a high kill shelter in West Virginia. She wasn't scheduled to be on the transport that brought her up to New York, but the volunteer who was pulling dogs managed to squeeze her in. She only had a few hours left to live and they just couldn't leave her there.

It was weeks before we were able to finally go get Joanie and bring her home with us. I won't go into those details, but this woman did not make it easy on us. At all. I won't speak ill of the dead, but I wonder if there might have been some hoarding tendencies there.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Joanie. She so loved her monkey toy.

Joanie was my first dog and as much as I wanted a dog it was a difficult adjustment for me. When she first came to live with us she loved to chew on my arms. I didn't particularly enjoy that. She wasn't trained in any way shape or form. She was head strong and stubborn (very much like both Ms. Ex and I in that regard). But we figured it out eventually and even though she ate my Aurora Shoes I still loved her.

I'm not sure when it was or how long it might have been after we adopted Joanie that I found out who had adopted Tyler, the dog who bit my chin upon first meeting me. Normally this wouldn't make for any story what so ever. Dogs get adopted into loving families all the time. Maybe it's your neighbor or the family two streets over or your coworker. Usually it's no one special.

Tyler though, he got a special family. He was adopted by Matchbox Twenty front man Rob Thomas and his wife Marisol. And this was the random memory I had today at work, Tyler biting me on the chin and how he then went on to live with a rock star. I spent a few minutes on Google during my lunch and discovered that Tyler went to the Rainbow Bridge last November. He'd been diagnosed with cancer in the summer and lived just as long as the doctors predicted he would.

I'm sad for the Thomas's and their loss, but I'm happy that Tyler got to have such an amazing seven years with them. Even if he did bite me on the chin. Every dog deserves to be adored by their humans.

Joanie lives with Ms. Ex now. I do miss her at times and wonder how she's doing (she has hip dysplasia and had surgeries on both knees after tearing the cruciate ligament in each of them), but my Maggie has my heart and soul (why yes I AM a crazy dog lady, how nice of you to notice). And though you might think splitting up the animals (who were our children) would have been one of the most difficult things that happened during the great breakup of 2006 through 2007 you'd be wrong. I was relieved when Ms. Ex said she wanted Joanie. I knew they were right for each other and that Maggie needed my care.

So, that's my story. And that's how I can connect myself to Rob Thomas in one move while playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I can also connect myself in one move to John Meyer and Ani DiFranco, but those are through humans, not dogs.

No song tonight. Instead, if you have a dog (or a cat or bird or iguana or whatever) go give it some love and affection. Poor Maggie and the boys are about to get accosted. I hope they know what they're in for!

No comments: