Her name is Whitley and she came to me 3 years ago today. Before her arrival I had been in contact with LS in Charlotte, NC about a shaggy that was available for adoption, but first let me back up a bit. As I have mentioned, I have lived with dogs and horses most of my life. I showed dogs beginning in college, bred a bit, and did a lot of rescue work. Newfoundland dogs were a breed I had long been in love with. I saw my first one as a child with my Grandfather on the way to spend a weekend on his boat on Seneca Lake. Before I got my first Newfie I had first shown Collies and American Cockers. While living in NY I met my future husband at a Cornel University symposium. When we moved to NC we gradually moved over to just American Cockers and Shelties. But I always longed for a Newf. When we built the horse farm, the time came for a Newf, and a dog named Dylan came into my life. I am writing a book about him. He was an amazing dog who did amazing things, and he died way too soon.
When we sold the horse farm and moved to Virginia, where we built a new home, I moved with several Newfs, a couple of Shelties, a shaggy (I have always had a rescue shaggy around) and a couple of other rescues. When I designed and built the house I included a huge room we called the Newf room, and designed it just for the needs of the dogs. It had a mini kitchen, a tub and grooming area, and plenty of space for them to be comfortable. It was attached to the laundry room and pantry and it made it easier when they came to spend time in the house. They had direct access to a huge play/exercise paddock as well. Spoiled? Definitely. Several of these dogs were seniors and I lost them during the first two years we were in the new house. Then my husband died suddenly and I was down to just the Newfs and my beloved shaggy Annie. Several years later I had only two senior Newfs, Butler and Kasodi, and they both died on the same day at 11 years old, pretty old for Newfs. I was more than heartbroken. Butler had been a special gift from my husband, and these two Newfs were my last living connection to him. Life is all about goodbyes.
I had never been without a dog except for a couple of college years, and after my last two Newfs died, I went without a dog for more than two years. Every time I thought about getting another dog, my heart hadn’t healed enough. There is more story here, but I will skip to the decision of thinking about another dog when the house became way too empty and silent, and when I began fostering a lovely dog named Su-Su. My girlfriend had lost her two dogs and wanted to adopt again so we went to a local rescue where she found two Shepherd mixes and I soon was asked to foster Su-Su from the same rescue.
I then began to think that my heart was ready, and maybe a shaggy was a start, and although I so wanted another Newf, it wasn’t the right time. All my previous shaggy’s were rescues and they brought such humor and fun to any group of dogs I had. I have never met a shaggy mix that didn’t have a terrific personality, spunk and character. When I contacted a Bearded Collie Rescue about one, he was unfortunately unavailable. I told the gal I would consider fostering if they needed me. A couple of weeks later I received a call asking if I would go to a shelter in NC a few hours away to “pull” a Beardie mix. Rarely do I go to shelter’s, as most rescues found their way to me or were brought to the house. In fact, I had one at the house that would soon go to her new home. For some reason, this time I said I would. We tried to make definite arrangements with the shelter, but could never get a return phone call, and this particular dog was on the “urgent” list, her time running out. We emailed, and we called, to no avail. LS from the Bearded Collie rescue group, and I, finally left e-mail messages saying I was going to come and get her if she was still in the shelter, but still there was no return call. Why I decided to drive more than 3 hours there anyway, I have no idea. This particular shelter was closed on Sundays, so very early Monday (5am) morning we left to get there before they opened. When we got out of the van, they were still not open, but back a ways and to the left I caught glimpse a dog in a pen and that dog leaped into the air while barking and trying to catch my eye. She succeeded. They finally opened the front door and we said we were here to look at the Beardie mix. They took us back to the euthanasia area where they were getting ready to put several dogs down including her. I asked and was allowed to go into this girls pen and she jumped right up onto me. I said off girl, and she immediately sat. I was told she was 10 months old and had already been surrendered three times. They said the policy is usually two times and you are out, so when she was returned three times that was it. I asked if we could take her into the visiting room and they said “sure”. She followed us to the room and sat as close to me as she could get.
I asked a few questions, but I knew this girl was coming home with me. There was something about her, and from my years in dogs, I knew she was mistakenly being scheduled that morning to be put down. The shelter asst. director said the first time she was surrendered along with her mother and brother who were adopted out first. Then she was adopted and brought back after a couple of months for bad behavior. Adopted out again, kept again for a while, but returned to the shelter for a third time, again for bad behavior. She was only 10 months old. I said I would take her, and my best friend, KBJ who drove with me, said he would take her for a quick walk and then put her in a large crate in my van while I filled out the paperwork. When we put the leash on her, she needed no directions or commands, she dragged KBJ to the door and went straight to the van and jumped in the crate. How did she know which vehicle to go to? There were several cars in the lot at that point. As we drove out, I began to cry. Not just because we pulled her in the knick of time, but for the other four in that holding area that were not as lucky. I wanted to take them, but knew I could only handle the one at the moment, both emotionally and physically, as I had already rescued three dogs just that year on my own, with one still at my home. And, I wondered, what have I let myself in for, offering to foster a naughty repeat offender puppy. Well, guess what? I never had a single problem with this puppy, not one, from day one. She was smart, she was adorable, funny and quirky, just like every shaggy that has graced my life. She was the fourth.
I have to admit I waited for the honeymoon period to be over,expecting her reported “bad behavior” to return, but it never did. From day one she was just about the perfect dog. We showed her the door where she could go out and she let us know when she needed to without fail. She has many nicknames…….but formally, she was named after Jasmine Guy’s character Whitley Gilbert of A Different World, who was memorable in so many ways, from her uppity attitude to her wealthy status to her classic but ultra feminine personal style. Whitley so reminded me of this character……a girlie princess dog, misunderstood, but with a huge heart. A good example….when we give out treats, Whitley thinks she is entitled, and should not have to “work” for it, although she will when I ask her to. From the first night she slept in the bedroom, she got up on her bed and did not budge until I got up. Then she greeted me like I had been gone for months and months by wiggling such that her nose almost touched her rump…..looking like a donut, happy as can be. She makes me feel happy. Every time she greets me, and now KBJ, it is in such a manner. One cannot hold onto a grumpy attitude with Whitty around. She is also known as Fuzzpuppy, Spin Puppy, Whimpy Whitley because she has absolutely no tolerance for discomfort, Fuzzlemuzzle, restaurant critic, because she hates peas, and if we put even one in her bowl, we will find it left. We have tried to trick her to no avail. Pea protein in dog food? No way. She sniffs any offerings carefully before she gently takes it. She laps her water like a Lady sipping tea with her ring and pinky finger sticking out with a tad of haughtiness. But mostly she has brought joy and life back into what was a very sad house. I knew from the day I brought her home that she was not going to be a foster……but that I would adopt her. She is about the best dog decision I have ever made……and in the nick of time. Happy 3 year anniversary Whitley!!!!
Shortly after Whitley came I got another call from LS and I drove to TN to pick up another shaggy we named Wilson. Whitley took it all in stride. Wilson found a wonderful home with a family in VA Beach and is friends with their other two dogs and three children. His is a story I will share another time.
She has shown her tender side, mothering several more fosters, as well as another puppy that became a member of the family. I will share his story at another time. Over three years, she has endeared herself to many, and I feel blessed to have her in my life, all because of a choice “in the nick of time”. Three years and hopefully many more.
Featured image by Ron Krajewski etsy Dog Art Studio
Thank you LS. Because of you I have a beloved companion. I again send my sympathy to you and your husband on the loss last week of your own beloved Bearded Collie, 15 year old Moby. He was so lucky to have you both, and I am so happy to have you as a friend.
Thank you readers for stopping by. Laters, charisse