a man... a chance meeting... and the girl of his dreams.

 

               When I first met Kathy, she wouldn't sleep with me! To say I was a bit disappointed would have been an understatement to say the least. She was very cute and the way she looked at me with those soft brown eyes made me think I had it made. I just knew that she was the

one for me.

               However, she sort of stood there - terrified, and I later learned - a very abused little girl. She looked at me at first like, "You've got to be kidding!"

               I usually don't have this problem being the charismatic, fun-loving guy that I am. My father had always advised me that girls were a lot smarter than boys, so I should always be aware of that when making my selection.

               I looked back at her and asked, "What's the matter?" In return, I got a very pensive stare. She was watching my every move - never taking her eyes from my gaze.

               When we first encountered each other, we were both at the Guilford County Animal Shelter looking for a forever friend. We were both there for the same reason - to find a lifelong companion.

               She stared back at me through the criss-cross fencing of the kennels. In that instant I knew it had to be her - Kathy. She was my choice.

               Much like my father before me, I could hear Kathy talking to me - speaking to me - saying, "Pick me, pick me." She was saying it as clearly as if I was hearing it out loud.

               She had a black mask covering her snout, very raccoon-like, and ears that reached for the sky except they went out sideways on her face.

               The week long wait for Kathy to be spayed seemed never-ending, but she couldn't leave the pound without this important operation. The lack of it is the main reason our shelters are so overcrowded with homeless animals, and it could be easily remedied.

               Once home, her new nickname came with much accuracy and without any hesitation at all:  "Queen-princess-doo-doo."  We soon learned that she was a very intelligent dog and perhaps, a bit fussy. That was the beginning of her nickname.

               Housetraining is a must for our multiple-dog household. When Kathy first arrived she did fairly well. Most dogs actually learn from one another. They know to go out and what they are out there to do. But Kathy developed a prima-donna attitude - can you say "diva?" 

               She would go out and take care of her primary business - number one, but then, later, behind our backs, we would often discover the "surprise." If the backyard grass was a bit too wet, or a bit too tall, or if she just couldn't find that ideal spot suitable for her needs, we would get a gift. Hence the nickname.

               So a lot of folks like to teach their dogs to do "tricks"- to become a semi-educated circus act in some cases. We do not. We prefer that they come to us when called - mainly for safety issues. But our dogs are our family, our companions, and they are not here to entertain us. However, Kathy chose to "sit" on her own and the more we praised her the more she did it.

               We had another big dog named Chester who also did the same thing - without ever being trained - whenever we would enter the room, he would sit up because he knew he would be praised. He always made sure he did it. And it was the same with Kathy; she was her own one-woman act.

               When we first got Kathy, she didn't bark. We thought she was just a quiet dog. Well that certainly turned out to be a misnomer. And in addition, one afternoon Kathy - barking the loudest - and the others, repaid their rescue by saving me from potential harm.

               One sunny, early Friday afternoon, I was home - in bed - with one of the most horrible flu bugs I can remember. This was ironic as I always – religiously - obtained a flu shot annually, but evidently this time, it did not work.

               The dogs started barking as if someone was approaching the house from our long driveway. The cacophony was outrageous. It was loud and it was continuous: barking to the nth degree.

               Somehow the dogs knew and they were in total protection mode guarding their territory. And to be honest, it sounded like 40 dogs.

               The barking went on - fast and furiously. But you know, I didn't care. I was just too sick with this flu bug to even move a muscle. I just lay there and listened to the continuous barking sound chorusing around me while waiting for a knock on the door.

               And then suddenly, just as quickly as it had begun, it stopped. The dogs were silent. No more noise. Not a sound. And yet, no one had knocked on the door. No one.

               The very next day I got a call from a close friend on the Greensboro Police force. She asked if I had been home, and when I said, "Yes," she said, "Well then, you were lucky!"

               Evidently a group of daytime house burglars were canvassing our neighbourhood, looking for prime houses to break into. My dogs literally scared them away.

               Nothing can replace the security of a good watchdog or several of them for that matter.

               And you know who is curled up right now under my right arm - keeping me warm - three guesses - but the only one who counts is Kathy!

 

About the author:  James Colasanti Jr. has received four Maxwell Medallions given by the Dog Writers Association of America for excellence in writing. James, a past president of the Animal Rescue & Foster Program of Greensboro, NC., shares his home with his housemate, Sam, and six rescue dogs. He is recently retired from Barnes & Noble Booksellers. His stories have appeared in Cesar's Way, New York Dog, O.Henry Magazine, Triad Happy Tails, Greensboro News & Record, and many others.

 

 

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