Lately, I’ve been reflecting on December 1, 2007….which was Rugby’s Gotcha Day. That was the day that my little speckled and spotted pup came home in the back seat of my car and became Rugby James. Every year about this time….maybe because it’s Thanksgiving season, or maybe because it’s the end of the year, I tend to be a bit reflective.
To really get to the heart of today’s post, I have to backtrack a bit. In 2002, our very last Corgi, my homebred Ch. Crackrbox’s Lil Felicitous….”Felicity”….had died. Two weeks later, we were foster parents to four, tiny, abandoned kittens who barely had their eyes open. There were many nights of sleeping on the sofa so that I could wake up to bottle feed them throughout the night. “Smudge” and “Oreo” became failed fosters, and made their home with us.
Cats are incredibly easy and wonderful pets! Oh my goodness! Housebreaking? Show them the litterbox and you’re done! Un-bee-LEEV-able!! No walking in the rain or cold….I can easily understand why people love kitties as pets! For the next five years, I was the happy mama to two kitties who really belonged to my middle school daughter.
After I lost Felicity, I just couldn’t bear the thought of getting another dog. I just wasn’t ready. As the Corgis in our kennel had aged and died ….there had been too much loss…too quickly, and I just needed a break. My heart needed a break.
But, by 2007, I was a professional dog trainer, and my head was starting to bug my heart about opening up to love a dog once again. When you’re a professional dog trainer, you come across dogs every now and again who need new homes for various reasons, so I really was in a wonderful position to pick and choose the perfect dog that would be just the right fit for me.
From time to time, other trainers that I knew would post information about adoptable dogs they were re-homing, and I knew the perfect dog would come along when it was the right time for me to get one. I wasn’t 100% sure I was ready yet, but I was casually looking, which is a bit dangerous when you’re a dog lover! Once I looked into the eyes of so many of those dogs on my computer screen, my heart was having a struggle telling my head to hush!
As soon as I saw Rugby’s face on my computer screen, I was smitten! It was the cutest puppy face staring back at me…hope in his little shining eyes…a saucy tilt to his head….little drop ears that had beautiful tendrils of fluff sticking out in all directions! He fit the list of my perfect pup in just about every single way. The only thing that left me with a question mark was that his foster mom told me that he was a bit of a barker. If you’ve ever lived with multiple Corgis….believe me….you KNOW barking! While we’d had a barkless home for 5 years, I felt sure I was ready to embrace a little dogger rowdiness.
Once I met Rugby, and made the decision that I didn’t want to leave without him, I’ll just never, ever forget the feeling I experienced as I drove home with Rugby safely settled into a crate in the backseat. I felt absolutely rich. Wealthy. Loaded like a millionaire. I had just won the lottery, and my prize was in the back seat of my car. I smiled and smiled the whole drive home. I couldn’t believe I was a dog owner again, but more than that, I couldn’t believe that Rugby was really mine. All mine. My very own dogger. A little furry prize wrapped up in the softest, most beautiful fur. And with chocolate drop eyes! His value intensified as I drove the three hours home. I couldn’t imagine any little dog being held in any higher esteem. I simply couldn’t believe he was mine and that someone else hadn’t snapped him up before I could get him. Someone else may have thrown him away, but you know that old saying, right? One man’s trash is another man’s treasure? Yep….you could translate that another way: One woman’s throw away dogger is another woman’s speckled and spotted treasure in fur.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the naughtiness of a special needs dog. It really is. Their difficult behavior can be relentless and challenging in just about every single way. When all we ever focus on is their bad behavior, we can turn our “treasures” back into “trash.” And sooner or later, we take the trash out, because it’s just garbage to us.
I think it’s a good use of my time to reflect on why I fell in love with my dog. I let my mind and my heart really feel all of those emotions all over again. I make sure I look deeply into his eyes when we’re in a quiet moment together. It’s what keeps me focused in the right direction with Rugby. In my mind and my heart, this little guy really is a treasure in fur. And most treasures are buried and have to be sought after. Anything worth having is worth working for, and Rugby sure makes me work for that buried treasure inside of him. But, it’s a labor of love, and when I uncover something that’s marvelous about him, it can keep me in smiles for days. For all of the trouble and the hassle that he presents in my life, I can’t even begin to count the ways that he’s enhanced it. He was one of the best investments I’ve ever made, and the interest has multiplied in love and laughs over the years. I love my little throw away treasure. He’s finally found a home where his worth is understood and appreciated. All dogs deserve a life like this….