Tell me it wasn’t only a week ago that snuffling came back into my life. First it was Isis, and then me, and then Habibi. The animal shelter is a heartbreaking place, but the people who run ours are the best. You can walk in with a leash and walk out with a dog on the end of it (or a cat if you’re that sort of person). At that point the dog doesn’t belong to you. There is a fostering period during which you keep in touch with the shelter to let them know how things are going, and if the pet is a good fit for you. On our first try, I walked out with Isis on the end of my leash.
It was not to be, and my heart broke. She is such a great dog. The Ibizan hound in her required constant attention when she was up and about. I wasn’t being a wuss. These dogs dart about with the agile movements of deer. It is beautiful, even when it is happening in your living room, into the kitchen, into the office, into the entry way, back through the kitchen and into the living room again.
She would play catch for hours on end if you let her, and when you were spent, she’d be getting her second wind. It was this, along with the facts that she needs to be around other dogs, too, and that she’s a nipper, that prompted us to take her back to the shelter. The nipping didn’t bother me, but the kids weren’t impressed at all that she knew how to apply pressure without ever being a real “bite.” And I know on an intellectual level that taking her back was the right thing for us to do, but I’m left wondering how in the space of one week, this dog put such a hole in my heart. I posted on Facebook a couple days ago:
We fostered Isis the Ibizan/Shep mix for a week and she took a piece of my heart with her. Such a great dog, but she had more energy than the rest of us put together, and needs to be around other dogs. I hope she finds a great forever home soon. I was moping around the house yesterday after she went back to the shelter. Going back in there today to see if we could find the right fit with another dog, we found this gal “Inga” whom the girls promplty renamed “Habibi.” She’s afraid of her own shadow and is so lazy. Isis was back in her pen and licked my hand when I stopped to pet her, but she acted like she owns the place and was happy to be back with the others. Can’t wait for Habibi to come out of her shell. Shelters are heartbreaking places.
Isis is so full of life and fun and antics, I know there has to be someone out there looking for the great dog that she is. She was mine for a week, but during that week, she was truly mine, and I’ve been mourning her absence like a death.
Now, as you saw in the FB post, we did come away from a second visit to the shelter with another dog whom the daughters dubbed “Habibi” which is Swedish for “my beloved.” It seems she might have some Swedish Vallhund in her. She’s a mongrel or a mutt, but there are enough points about her to suggest Vallhund runs deep in her ancestry. She’s got the coarse black top coat covering her spine from the haunches to the tail, and the undercoat is thick and soft like down. We’re talking face-burying fur here.
The only problem is that she was obviously neglected and never socialized. It took her an entire evening of family lovin’ to get her tail out from between her legs. Her movements during dreaming suggest different fears. I am assuming she was always outside because there haven’t been any issues with house training. She isn’t close to being out of her shell yet, but when she goes out, she sticks close and doesn’t want to explore yet, but when it is time to go back in she acts like you’re trying to play a trick on her.
“No, Baby (my shortened nickname for her), its okay. You’re an indoor dog!”
When I got up this morning and made coffee, she didn’t signal or whimper or anything. I opened the gate to let her out and she yawned and stretched and came out to greet me. We went out for her to piddle. After a week with Isis’s rambunctions, I was ready to play. I went to the broom closet where I’d put Isis’s toys out of sight and grabbed a knotted rope that still had her scent on it and threw it for Habibi. To my amazement she walked in the direction I threw it. After sniffing it and tasting it, she decided it was hers. I took it from her and tossed it and she retrieved and brought it back to me. We did this for about five minutes. My heart is right there on the horizon, waiting to pour sunlight into my psyche. This dog just might work out.
“Isis, I still miss you, you goofball! I wish we could have been your forever family, and the person who adopts you better realize what a gem you are and give you a fulfilling life. Hope you don’t mind that we’re giving Habibi a try. She’s only half your size with a tenth of your energy, but she seems to remember your scent from the shelter and rests gently on your old bed.”
More updates to come … just had to get that off my chest.