Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Second Best Isn't So Bad

Charlie came into my life almost one year ago. I'll just say he was abandoned by his owner and I rescued him. I will admit I was reluctant at first. As I've said before, I'm definitely a cat person and not a dog person. In my 20 plus years of working with animals, I've brought home many, many kitties but only one dog and he was extraordinary. But Charlie chose me as his person and there's nothing I can do about that. I tried to ignore it at first. He went to live with my in-laws but that lasted for about a week and he came back. I considered taking him to the no kill shelter or trying to find him another home but I  knew he'd keep coming back to me. I didn't really want to keep him but I didn't want to not have him either. I have faith in The Universe and figured there was a reason he had showed up. In the back of my mind, I realized that Charlie was much younger than Ritz and therefore would be a comfort to me when my old friend eventually passed away. It took a lot of adjusting on everyone's part: Charlie didn't know how to eat out of a bowl or play with a squeaky toy. He knew his name and that was about it. Ritz was less than pleased when he realized this new guy was staying but he took charge and made it clear he was the boss. The cats hated him but that's not surprising and they stayed out of his way. We existed this way for several months.

Every once in a while, I'd wonder if I should try to re-home Charlie but it never seemed like the right thing to do. After Ritz passed away in late May, I knew Charlie's purpose for coming to me was clear. I'm sure I'm not exaggerating when I guess  Ritz was bullying him into a submissive role in our home. However, I also think Ritz was training him on how to be the companion that I need. It just so happened that the week after Ritz passed I became unemployed. Charlie stepped up in a way I never expected and has kept me company literally every second of the day. If I needed to spend the day in bed being sad, he was at my feet. If I wanted to walk four miles, he trotted the whole way. He lays on my yoga mat, rides in the passenger seat and eats the tops from my strawberries.

I'm thankful to have Charlie yet he's a constant reminder that he isn't Ritz. He barely lifts his head when the doorbell rings, greets the pizza delivery guy with a wagging tail and doesn't mind strangers strolling by on the path next to our fence. I hate to admit it's a relief to have a dog who isn't chronically ill. I traveled with Charlie last weekend and didn't have to take any medications or medical supplies. I put him in the back yard with our niece and nephew and never worried that he might bite them.

 I lovingly refer to Charlie as my "Hobo Dog". He definitely is special in his own way. I'm glad he had some time with Ritz to learn the way to be a dog in our house. Otherwise I would have gone out immediately to get a new dog and that wouldn't have felt right. But for all the times I look at him wanting him to be someone else, there are just as many times I look at him and feel sure that he is the dog I need by my side right now.

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