She was found wandering along a dangerous path: the highway south of our city. Whether she’d been born outside or had run away, we’ll never know, but she was alone, tired, thin, and sweet, despite the obvious miles she’d put on her small frame. Someone found her, took her to a local clinic and she found herself at the AARCS Safe Haven.
Around the same time, I found myself at the end of my own path. A crossroads with marriage behind me and a new, fresh wilderness ahead. I had a map from the last time but it doesn’t make the going easy. Dragging my baggage along some singletrack dirt path with my travelling companions Guilt and Doubt following close on my heels. No safe haven in sight.
She’s your generic ‘rez dog’. A dog born on one of the nearby Indian Reservations. A mixed breed who appears to have some German Shepherd, Border Collie, Coyote (?), and maybe Pit Bull … who knows. Hip bones jutting out, you can count her ribs easily. But her soft brown eyes still have hope in them when she looks at you. Others haven’t been lucky and fear and distrust are all you can see. Or, in the worst cases, total lack of concern for their own welfare. But not Rosie, she was rescued before things became too desperate.
What’s readily apparent is that she has had at least one, possibly two, litters of puppies. And she’s barely two-years old. Where those puppies have ended up is anyone’s guess.
I’d signed up as a foster parent about a month earlier. AARCS had been recommended by my friend Kim at Shawville PetValu. But it was more than just a mission to help animals. It was my own form of silent rebellion. My husband had not wanted a dog in the house. We had a failed history there. I cannot, will not, absolutely refuse to fight or harbour anger against him as we divorce. But I will allow myself this rebellion. I had my eye on one dog but needed to wait until the dust settled a bit before we fostered him. He’d been in their weekly report for a couple weeks. A sweet-looking three-legged dude. The weekly email came out and he’d been fostered. But Rosie was there. “Who can give her a chance and fatten her up a little bit?”
Ask the owners of the beagle we’d been dogsitting, we’re all about fattening them up. On impulse I sent an email and said we’d take her. The response came back: great, you can pick her up tonight!
I won’t pretend I didn’t have second thoughts. Was I ready to change our home to accommodate someone who needed us? I’d better be … I’d said I was!
Rosie fit into our home like our missing puzzle piece. There have been hiccups for sure. She made a huge mess on my $600 duvet. But it was in need of a dry clean anyway. She wasn’t housetrained and still has messes … but that carpet is due to get ripped up anyway.
We started going to our local dog park and at first she thought it was some version of the doggy hunger games. But with my encouragement and the help of a dear friend, we’ve adjusted. In fact, we’ve flourished.
It’s been two weeks.
She has worked her magic with the kids – who are in their own new wilderness. She sleeps with my son each night. She curls around his feet and sighs that deep sigh of contentment. They spend so much time together. Sometimes goofing off, sometimes just hanging out. Sometimes howling. (She won’t do that with me, only him.) She spends hours touring the neighbourhood with my daughter, on missions as an official sidekick.
She’s never far from my side. Our walks are harmonious and I no more have to tell my shadow to follow me than I have to tell her. She just does. She is with me. She’s mine. In my cheesy, sappy, emotional moments (of which there are many) I feel like she’s my patronus – a projection of all the good inside of me. She’s helped me to feel stronger. On the days I feel I’ve screwed everything up I can walk with her and just … be. I can breathe. She had shoved her wet nose into my face and stopped the tears. She’s reminded me what’s important. Kindess. Forgiveness. Being present. Relaxing.
This sweet girl who has been left to her own devices. Her body showing the scars of children and too much time fighting to keep one step ahead of the wolves. Still willing to trust and hope. Still afraid. Still looking out into the world with hope in her eyes.
I wonder just who has rescued who.