Adopting a dog seemed the thing to do, my sixteen year old Jack Russell Quinn, had died, and it was too too hard to come home to the house at night and not be greeted by her smiling face..’Do it soon,’ people said, ‘The best thing for you,’ they said…….and so I found myself travelling out west one day with a friend to Jack Russell Rescue to adopt a new little gal. I had earmarked two or three dogs to meet and Nancy with one ear up and one ear down was one of them. She had been described as potentially being a great family dog, she was young and had been on death row at the pound. I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found when we arrived at the kennels, so many dogs, all well looked after, but just so many looking for a new home.Already traumatised by the recent death of my dog I found the walk through the kennels heartbreaking…how many sets of pleading eyes and cries can a heart bear. Two of the three dogs I thought we might view were otherwise rehomed and so we met Nancy, ear up ear down. She was tiny and came out in a pink knitted sweater to keep her warm. She was quiet and subdued and very sick with kennel cough and extremely thin, her head and tail seemed too big for her body.Before I knew it we were back out on the freeway heading home with Miss one ear up, one ear down…how could I not have brought her home?
By the time we arrived back home Fancy Nancy had a new name – Scout, a new home and a new life and this is where our journey began….
Good food and care soon put Scout back on track, she put on weight and as she changed physically so did her personality… no longer the quiet timid little dog of the kennels, a vibrant, feisty, agile and funny little dog emerged and so did her voice. Scout was a very loving dog, unafraid of people but she was traumatised from her time in the kennels and the pound and hated to be left alone. She wasn’t good on the lead and she hadn’t really been socialised much with other dogs. She started to bark and scream and fling herself against the doorways, she was sometimes too snappy and aggressive with other dogs. I’ll be honest, initially I thought this was going to be a tough nut to crack. Was I ever going to be able to leave the house? Was I doomed to a life indoors with an angry dog and a bunch of toys – the turkeys, piglets, weasels and bears and a bunch of chewed up bones? When we did socialise and go out walking people loved her of course and said how great she was…are we talking about the same dog I thought, the one who seems to have been invaded by some sort of poltergeist every time I left the house, turned my back or went out walking…we were…I thought we were heading for a divorce Scout and I, and we’d only just begun….can we cope and are we ever going to gel?
Dogs listen, their ears are picking up information all the time and so of course this is what I had to do. I thought I knew how to handle dogs but each one is different, just as we are, and so I started listening. I knew it was about patience, consistency, love and time. We had a dinner party, I was worried about how Scout might behave…gently throughout the night she went to each individual and quietly sat on their lap and wound her way into their hearts and mine. She teaches me as much, if not more than I teach her, how could you not love a creature like that?
So now there is nothing to it but to get out and about with Scout and this is a chronicle of our journey and all the things that interest us here in the city and beyond – dogs, photography, food , art, friends, family and community and the quirky streaks in life.
© Elizabeth O’Donnell