Before I resume my usual sarcastic, snarky ways, I want to take a minute and say a sincere and heartfelt goodbye to the best dog ever.
Addie was a Border Collie. I adopted her through the Border Collie Rescue of the Ozarks in 2005 after I failed Fostering 101. I’d had other foster dogs prior to, and after Addie, including one very young puppy, but I never had one to whom I felt such an attachment. Addie was different.
I remember going the park to meet her then-owner who was surrendering her to the Rescue after having adopted her just six months before. The lady claimed she had separation anxiety and was tearing up her furniture, and that she wasn’t good with the grandchildren. I can’t say one way or the other on the grandchildren issue. I suspect they were brats at whom I would have probably snapped as well. (I may not always be the most child-tolerant individual…) The separation anxiety/tearing things up thing? Yeah, that was not the dog who lived with me. I took Molli, my other Border Collie, with me to the park that day to be sure the two dogs weren’t going to form an instant hatred and try to eat each other. There didn’t appear to be any issues, though. In fact, Addie wouldn’t even look at me, or at Molli. She wasn’t interested in either of us in the least. When her former person left, and I loaded Molli into her crate in the back of my vehicle, I walked Addie around to the passenger side of my SUV. She immediately hopped up into the seat and settled in. She still didn’t want to look at me or interact, but at least she was willing to get in the car with me.
I said her name several times on the way home that evening, but she wouldn’t look at me. I remember being concerned that perhaps her name had been shouted at her in such an unpleasant tone that she had formed a negative association with it. I thought we might have to change her name. After I got her to my house, however, she began to loosen up. By the end of the first night, she would look at me when I said her name, and she would approach me to eat treats out of my hand. She didn’t wag her tale, though, and her eyes just looked so sad.
I was going through a bad time in my own life. It was the product of my own making, but that didn’t negate the fact that I was sad myself. I would come home from work sit in my living room, and Addie would come up to me and put her chin on my knee and just look up at me with those soulful brown eyes while I petted her. She was so unbelievably sweet. I love my Molli-dog, but two dogs could not be more different personality-wise. Molli is a high-strung, independent, nutcase. (I blame it on some inbreeding in her pedigree.) Addie, however, was a total sweetheart, and right then, I needed a sweetheart. She was a cuddly, teddy bear of a dog. She was a little on the needy side, but I was kind of needy then myself.
There was a couple up in Missouri who saw Addie’s picture on the BCRO website and called about her. They kept saying they “used to have a Sheltie,” and she “reminded them of their Sheltie,” and was she “like a Sheltie.” The answer was, “No, she’s not like a Sheltie. She’s like a Border Collie.” They were still waffling back and forth about her, when one Saturday the head of the Rescue called me to see how Addie was doing. I told her, “She’s fine, but Sherryl? I really want to keep her.” Mine was the fourth home Addie had been in in less than a year. Every time she was somewhere where someone was supposed to love her and take care of her, they shuffled her off to someone else. I related a little too closely to that at that time in my life, and the idea of shuffling that sweet puppy off to someone else just broke my heart. I literally cried just thinking about it. I was afraid she’d think she’d done something wrong. Luckily, Sherryl’s response was, “If you want to keep her, she’s yours.”
I went directly to the pet store and bought a new collar and name tag for her. When I got home with her new hardware, I removed her old collar, and as I unbuckled the new one and held it out to put it around her neck, she stretched her head up and toward me. It was as if she knew she was getting a new collar, and a new life, and she couldn’t wait to put it on.
She was still pretty reserved for a while after I brought her home. My best friend came up to visit one weekend and when I tried to introduce Addie to her, she sat on the opposite side of me and turned her head away. The gesture was totally, “If I don’t look at you, you don’t exist.” (By contrast, when I introduced Molli — as a puppy — to the same friend, she got behind me and barked like a big dog. Not nearly as impressive as if she’d gotten in front of me, but pretty funny.) I knew the day Addie finally felt comfortable, though. With two Border Collies, there were always dog toys somewhere in my house. One day, I caught Addie with a stuffed pig in her mouth, just wollering it back and forth. It was the first time I saw her show interest in or play with any sort of toy. I was so happy, because to me, that meant she knew she was home.
She was a funny sort. When she wasn’t comfortable with her surroundings, she would get behind me and put her front paws up on my waist and try to hide. When she was happy, she would wag her tail so hard she looked as if she was wagging her entire body. The sight always cracked me up. She and Molli never really played together. Every once in a while they would snark at each other, but for the most part, Molli went and did her Molli thing, and Addie would velcro herself to my side.
She lived with me for a little over 8 years, and she passed away on Monday. I’ve cried every day since, and I expect that will continue for a while. In fact, I’m crying my eyes out as I type this. If this were a movie, I swear this would be where the montage of clips from life with Addie would begin to roll. I want to write some of those memories down while they are coming to me because they are things I don’t want to forget.
– I loaded her up and took her with me every single time I left town for several years because I couldn’t stand to leave her. I was afraid she would think I was abandoning her. She went to Jonesboro and Pine Bluff with me more times than I can count, and she always rode in the front seat wearing a harness that attached to the seat belt. (I tried putting her in a crate in the back of the the Tahoe exactly one time. No dice.) Any time she saw me with the harness in hand, she would come immediately to sit at my feet so I could slip it over her head and fasten it on her. (I eventually got where I could board her, or have a friend dog-sit, but it took a long time.)
– Addie didn’t like storms. At all. My dogs are crate trained, and a few years ago, I still had one all-wire crate. Molli hated it, so hers was different, but Addie seemed to like it. One day, though, I came home from work after a pretty vicious thunderstorm to discover she had completely destroyed her wire crate. It took some serious work on my part to unbend the pieces she had mangled so I could even get the door open and get her out of the crate. That was the end of wire crates in my house. (That was also the point at which I began taking Addie to doggy daycare on days I knew a storm was on the way.)
– When I was home, Addie had free run of the house, and if it stormed, Addie always sought refuge in my bathroom, in the small space between toilet and the wall. I don’t know how she knew to get in a “small interior space” as they always say on radio and television, but she did.
– I’ve always fed my dogs in their crates. When I would give Addie her food bowl, she would pick up pieces of food with her mouth and put them on the floor of the crate. She kind of made a snuffling noise as she did it. Once she removed what she apparently deemed to be “enough” food, she would pick up the bowl by its rim and dump the remainder of the food onto the bottom of her crate. From there, she would shove the food around her crate with her nose until it was just where she wanted it. Only then would she actually eat her food. I watched her do that for the last time on Sunday. I loved watching her do it because it always made me smile.
– Dogs are not allowed on the furniture at my house — unless that dog was Addie. Somehow, she could always get me to bend the rules and let her sit on the couch with me.
– I’ve sat with my arms around her, crying into her fur more times than I can count, and she always made me feel better.
– When it snowed, she would go outside snap at the air to capture snowflakes, or shove her snout through the snow on the ground, plow-style, scooping it into her mouth.
– When she wanted to be petted and wasn’t being, she would nose my hand. If I wasn’t immediately responsive, she would hit me with her paw until the petting commenced. If the petting stopped before she was ready, she would again begin swatting me with her paw. It was too funny not to laugh. and of course I usually complied.
Addie was my “heart dog”. She was meant to be mine. As my mother said, “I know you rescued her, and she was attached to you and vice versa.” As I told several people, “Addie was the sweet one, and she loved me. Molli just tolerates me because I’m have opposable thumbs.” I loved that dog, and I will miss her terribly.
In the spirit of 30 days of Thanksgiving and all that, I will say this: I am thankful that I was the one who was sent to pick up Addie from her former owner, and I’m thankful that I was able to take her in and be her person. I’m thankful for the joy she brought me. I only hope I improved her life as much as she improved mine.
R.I.P., sweet puppy. I love you.