When my mother’s dog passed, his absence was felt deeply by the household for a long time. Mum eventually decided that she needed to find a new friend, that she needed to rescue yet another dog from a shelter to be her beloved companion and so her search began…

The little warrior

Inspecting the local shelters she discovered a red-faced, black-bodied little terrier with the most ridiculously long ears like those of a mule, with a stubborn, resolute temperament to match. Despite her diminutive size she fought her way to the front of the kennel where Mum watched with amusement as the little terrier stubbornly and fiercely struggled to hold her position against the mass of larger dogs. She was the smallest but the most persistent. Time after time she frantically forced her way through the crowd of dogs, then shoved her muzzle through the fence as though she could get to Mum by sheer force of will.

Her tenacity was all that enabled her to earn a spot at the front. Every time the little warrior fought her way back to the front row it was to only be bowled over and trampled underfoot once again by the larger dogs. Undeterred, she worked her way to the fore once again and start her pleading appeal once more. That little pup had gumption!

All in all it seemed at first sight that she had every bad habit a dog could have. She had obviously never been taught even the most rudimentary manners

Intrigued and amused Mum asked to see this little dog who when placed in her lap, was all over her like ugly on a monkey, in a frenzied, moist greeting. The little dog had a hyper, hysterical appeal and despite her obvious desire to be loved, she nibbled in a frenzy upon fingers and arms coupled with nipping lunges at the face. The nips were uncomfortable but not really painful as she tried desperately in the only way she knew to win Mum over. All in all it seemed at first sight that she had every bad habit a dog could have. She had obviously never been taught even the most rudimentary manners. At 82, Mum was afraid that this little powerhouse of a dog would be too hard to handle and realistically – although reluctantly asked – to see the rest of the dogs on site.

When placed back in the run, the pup fought her way through the mob once again shoving her muzzle through the chain link fence watching with pleading, desperate eyes as Mum worked her way down the line where a multitude of dogs begged and barked, all seeking her attention. After looking at all of the other dogs available, Mum was confident that she had made a wise decision having selected a little mixed breed. We were exiting the kennels when Mum found herself drawn irresistibly to the pleading little dog once more, her heart touched by the small dog’s air of urgent need.

Six times out, six times back, like a little black and tan boomerang, the poor animal had been allowed to hope so many times only to be returned to the shelter every time in a heart crushing moment

Together Mum and I stopped and watched as the little dog frantically leaped against the fence, trying her best to climb over, under or through. Telling the attendant of her misgivings Mom watched the hairy projectile continue to fling herself at the fence as the young woman listened sympathetically. She agreed with Mums reservations adding that the little dog had already been too much for six other families. She had been returned by every adopter each time they had taken her home. Some had kept her for days but in the other homes the little tail wagger had simply lasted a few hours.

Lucky seventh

Just as everyone at the shelter drew a collective sigh of relief, believing that the little dog had finally found her forever home, the familiar scratch of her claws would be heard coming down the hallway accompanied by the sound of her pulling and gasping at the end of the leash. Six times out, six times back, like a little black and tan boomerang, the poor animal had been allowed to hope so many times only to be returned to the shelter every time in a heart crushing moment. What a terrible record for the little terrier who was now obviously on her last chance. In a shelter with limited resources and space, now a six time loser, this little tyke was obviously on her last round.

With a sigh of resignation and against her better judgement Mum arranged to pick up the little dog in three days after being spayed and having shots administered. Secretly I was elated myself. I had promised myself not to interfere with her search, that this choice was solely Mums but this little dog would have been my first choice as well. There was just something about that little face…

Christened Trixie, once at our house she promptly chased the Patches the cat under the bed, literally ran over Emily, my ten year old rescue dog, who was completely overwhelmed by this wild little interloper and then literally driven from her own bed

The trip home with this ecstatic little dog should have been a warning that this wasn’t going to be easy. Miserably car sick she managed to control herself until we hit the sixteen km mark before losing control at both ends, much to our horror. What could you do? The trauma of a car ride to yet another unknown fate had apparently taken its toll on this ecstatic little dog after six returns. It was a long, aromatic thirty two km ride home with her happy panting face hanging out the window, the only one who was breathing easy in the car that afternoon.

Christened Trixie, once at our house she promptly chased the Patches the cat under the bed, literally ran over Emily, my ten year old rescue dog, who was completely overwhelmed by this wild little interloper and then literally driven from her own bed. Trixie’s arrival was less than sedate.

Blossoming

Within a week Mum and I began to have our own doubts about this tiny terror of a terrier. Was she worth the effort? Would she ever settle down? Could we teach her more positive habits? My siblings were unanimous in their fear that this little dog would cause Mum to be injured with her leaps and nervous nips. But when you watched, when you really saw, you realized this little girl wasn’t trying to be bad. She was just desperately trying to make a place for herself in a hostile atmosphere where she was truly unwanted by every resident present with the exception of two people who were now at their wits end. Tempted more than once to give up, Mum and I would sigh in resignation and continue to stubbornly persist believing in this impossible project of a dog.

After just two months of love, patience and kindness, she developed into the dog everyone now wants

But then in her second month, something seemed to click in that long-eared, stubborn little head and she began to acquire a level of maturity that started to show. She began to enjoy learning, behaved with less anxiety, and focused on what we wanted her to do. With love, assurance and most of all patience, Trixie has finally found her forever home. After just two months of love, patience and kindness, she developed into the dog everyone now wants. She is loving, gentle and most of all; self assured. I am sure she knows that she has finally found her place in a loving home.

Trixie, Emily and Patches the cat, now unified, have taken over the home completely, ruling the roost as all good and beloved pets eventually do. Whomever these three now sleeps with as they choose randomly between Mum or I, is now relegated to the edge of their bed barely able to move to ensure that three fuzzy little bodies and two long ears have ample room to sleep.

But when you’re in love you never really notice.

Photo taken by Author Loni Brennan/Diana L. Mesnard

This is a guest essay by Loni Brennan. Want to write for us? Visit www.dogstodaymagazine.co.uk/essay-submission or email editorial@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk

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