After the troubles with Roxy, our cute little 18-month old Manchester terrier mix is far less drama.
I visit the local animal shelter by myself because, if the missus went with me, we might end up taking a number of the waifs home with us. I went the first week in January and was impressed with several dogs, especially Balto, a large healthy young black German Shepherd pup, but after tending to the infirm Ernie, our days of carrying an elderly dog over 70 pounds up and down the stairs are probably over.
There were several sweet dogs that caught my eye, so I took Mrs. Ombud to the shelter, and we liked an Anatolian shepherd named Roxy. She had been a stray for several months before she was captured in October, and had been nursed back to health. She was a favorite of the animal shelter staff. They guessed she was six years old, and she was shy, but I first met her while she was being walked in the neighborhood, and she was quite cheerful and curious, happy to be out on patrol. So we returned the next day and adopted her.
I went home to my parents house in Rochester, Minnesota for Thanksgiving. While waiting at baggage claim I got an email from a former coworker, who wrote: “Pretty cold there right now, huh?”
He was so attune to me. I’d be watching TV, glance over at him, and he was watching me. It might sound creepy, but it wasn’t.
He lived a long, good dog life, with many adventures, even joining me cross country when he was a year and a half old, going to Minnesota, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Louisville, visiting Graceland in Memphis and the Grand Canyon (which he did not care for). He traveled to Vancouver, Canada, to Santa Barbara, and up into the Sierra foothills often. And he knew the southern shoreline of Alameda Point, between the USS Hornet Museum and Encinal High, like the back of his paw.
Our sweet old German shepherd mix, Ernie, became very feeble toward the end of his life. I kept waiting for a sign from him, but his appetite never diminished. A dog-walking friend described how “the light went out” in her dog’s eyes, and she knew it was time. The light never left Ernie’s eyes: he was always alert, attune to me, the shepherd in him ever watchful.
I took a year off from college once and traveled around the country. For a while, I stayed out on the farm where my grandmother had been born, living with my great-aunt.
I was helping my grandfather paint houses. I came home one day to find that my great-aunt had darned a couple pairs of my socks.
Really: she took needle and thread and created these deft cross-hatchings that patched holes. I remember I was touched.