Saturday, September 24, 2005

I Tried Not To Fall In Love...

The old girl in the photo is "Lady". I know, not a very original name, but the kids came up with it when they were much younger. Lady is a stray...or rather Lady was a stray.

Lady showed up on our property back in the winter of 1997. At first, I treated her the same as I treat any stray dog that shows on the property. I confront them, yell "Git!", and generally behave badly so they will go home or at least somewhere else.

Point is, you don't always know which dog is a stray and which is just a neighborhood pooch doing some recon. So, I'm just rude to all of them so they'll avoid my place.

Lady was no exception. When she showed, I yelled and chased her. She'd fake an exit and then show up 15 minutes later the delight of our dogs, Ranger, Flounder, and Feather. I couldn't help notice it was also delighting my 3 kids who were 10, 8, and 6 at the time. So we had the talk.

I explained that 3 dogs was plenty and the stray needed to go home. They nodded and listened. I expounded on how "that stray" had a home somewhere and needed to go home.

More nods.

I stressed the importance of NOT being nice to "it" and no matter how sad it looked, DO NOT FEED IT!

Over the next few days, the stray continued to hover just on the periphery of our "lawn". Then I noticed a greasy plate out by the driveway.

Was the stray putting on weight?

Why is this dog not leaving? I watched her sitting patiently as my 3 dogs ate their supper on the porch. She never made any attempt to move in on their meals, but did seem to be waiting...for something.

As I walked back from the barn, I spied my wife putting something down on the porch. The stray immediately went to it, got a pat on the head, and tucked into a plate of leftovers. Subversion in the ranks!

I acted ignorant ( a familiar condition) of this new development.It wasn't long before the lobbying began...

"Daddy, Flounder sure likes that stray dog."

"Well, she's a girl dog Katie, Flounder likes all girl dogs"

"Honey, that stray has the best table manners, better than Feather's"

"Table manners? I thought we agreed not to feed her?"

"Oh, just seemed rude to feed the other 3 dogs in front of her."

"Be rude!"

"Pappa, We named the stray dog, "Lady, 'cause she's a girl."

"No Emma, whatever you do, don't name her...she's not ours"

"I love Lady, can we keep her Daddy?"

"No Raymie, ...well, okay"

There it was, my surrender to the Lady lobbyists. In the innocent sweetness of a 6 year old's eyes, I had met my match. I slumped into a chair as the word spread and the four conspirators celebrated.

I made it clear that she was NOT my dog and they would have to bathe her and take care of her. Then I found out that even my mom was in on this in a long distance way. She offered to be Lady's benefactor when it came to dog food and vet bills. I was completely outnumbered.

We don't know how old she is of course, but she seemed an old dog back in 1997 and she is definitely looking old now. She can still see, but is deaf. I stomp on the porch boards to call her for her meals, she can feel the vibrations. She loves to wade the pond edge hunting for fish and frogs.
She's a little wobbly when she first stands, but gets around okay. She is sweet, gentle, and really does have impeccable manners.

Of course, you know how this turns out. Lady wormed her way into my heart and it's me that takes her to the vet, bathes her, and feeds her.

I imagine it will be me who one day places her to rest under the twin pines where Ranger lies.Posted by Picasa


swamp4me said...

We had our own version of Lady - her name was Casey. She hung out for about a week. We were poor and we already had a dog...but my husband knows how I am when it comes to strays, so he tried to scare her off by shooting over her (no, he did not shoot at her!). She ran to me for protection...well heck, what are you gonna do?
She was a most excellent companion for many years :)

swamp4me said...

Oh, and then there were "the boys" LT and Hank - two stray labs my husband brought home. He found them one night when he was out doing a search on the park...
Then there was Bailey...yet another dog that my husband brought home after he found him way back in the swamp during a search. Bailey's owner claimed him after about three weeks and a multitude of "Is this your dog?" signs I put up.

Floridacracker said...

You two sound like dog softies...I can relate.

Rexroth's Daughter said...

Lady is a beauty. I can see how you lost your heart to that one! Such a nice story.

Floridacracker said...

Thanks. She has a certain charm.

Deb said...

I just lost my own Lady. Funny how they work their way into your heart. Take good care of her.

farmer john said...

Nice story cracker. Old dogs, children and watermellon wine... now I got that tune stuck in my head. Thanks cracker.

Floridacracker said...

Sorry for your loss, today is my legendary Ranger dog's birthday. Gone for 5 years, but I still miss him...

I apologize, at least I didn't mention "This is the song that never ends.....oops.