I'm sitting at the dining room table, trying to work (or, possibly, play Scrabulous). Riley is under the table, pressed up against me. He is sitting on my foot. He's a warm presence; I like the weight of him, and I like feeling him breathe. I never thought I'd like a short-haired dog until I met him.
Most of you know about his troubled past, and his skittish ways, and how hard it was [note: ooh he just lay down. on my foot.] for us to get him to trust us and play.
But this last year or so he has really come into his own. Like Miss Brodie, he's in his prime. He's almost seven, and he's calmed down, and he's bonded strongly with us. The other day we were at Doug's mother's apartment, and I offered to take her trash down the hall for her. Doug told me that when I closed the door behind me, Riley got upset. Whimpered, and went to the door and waited for me.
Now that wouldn't be unusual for, say, Toby, but for Riley it's quite a little victory.
This morning Doug came across Riley's folder from the North Woods Humane Society. His name, in those days, was Miller. He was about four months old, standoffish, and scared.
I'd remembered the general reasons why Miller was in the pound, but it was rather jolting to read them again. I had forgotten the precise wording, and how stark it was.
Why are you surrendering this dog? Our dog and kids don't get along.
Has he ever bitten anyone? Nipps at my kids--Because they were being agressive towards him.
Please write additional comments regarding this dog on back of this sheet. He is a good dog. But my kids were too agressive towards him. Also my dog was very jealous of a new puppy But Miller gets along great w/people and animals.
OK, that last line is an out-and-out lie. It has taken us a full six years to help him realize that the world and its beings are not out to hurt him.
Sometimes, I wish I could have gotten him from the very start. If I had, I wonder if these six years would have been a little easier on him, if he would have had more dog friends and fewer neuroses. Maybe not; he might just be skittish by nature. That's something I can never know.
But I do know this: Whoever that woman was who wrote those comments, and who knew enough and was kind enough and responsible enough to bring the scared, nipping little black-and-white puppy to the pound, was a good soul. The dog was too much for her family, and she realized it. I am grateful to her for that. And I wish she could know that, six years later, little Miller is doing just fine. That he turned out to be, just as she said, a good dog.