by Betty Zubritsky
Oh, the Kennel Boyfriends, they come and they go. It’s the nature of the biz, and I’m used to it, sort of. I still get all mushy when they leave me, even knowing that this is what I want for them, to go home and have toys and yards and big shady trees. I want them to snuggle down on the sofa and watch movies and eat Chex Mix and be loved all up… better than I could do. I want all that, and I get mushy anyway, because I’ve loved them, and I’ll miss them. So probably I shouldn’t even pick ’em, but I can’t help myself. To do this here job, Kennel Boyfriends are required.
So I walked JackJack on over to the adoption kennel this morning. Well, he didn’t walk so much as he leaped and hopped and bounced and .. you get the idea. I love this guy. And I planted a kiss and fought the tears that I KNEW were coming. Yes indeed. But I had work yet to do, and time stands still for no-one. Not even JackJack.
Fred will be leaving me next week. This one will be tougher. If I had a home, Fred would already be living in it, and Gilly would just have to cope with this.
So it’s a very good thing I have Faingers. (That’s not fingers, although it’s a good thing I have those too, else I couldn’t type. It’s Faingers.)
He’s a nice 73 pound dark red guy, with what could be described as a black “mane”. It’s not fluffy like a lion would have, just a different color around his neck. Quite handsome. But I don’t pick ‘em for looks. No, of course not. There has to be something else.
The first time I turned him out with the rest of the dogs, he came runing back inside and hid his face in the corner. Swell. I have a dog with confidence issues. Like I needed another one of those. I’ve already been something less than successful with 2 of them, and here we are again with this one. Come on Faingers, let’s go face the music. Don’t let my bad boys bully you. You’re a fine big boy and you can do this.
I found early on that it wasn’t the dogs that worried him, it was me. If I fussed at anybody (and it was never him), he took it personally and went to his corner, hiding his face and making himself as small as he possibly could. Alright, THIS I can fix.
In no time at all, the fix was made and Faingers never hid in the corner again. He became, in fact, my second skin. Where-ever I was, so was he. “I love you Lady!” I love you too, dear. Go pee.
Now, there are things we do in the kennel that some dogs just don’t like too much. Most of them pick just one thing to not like. Soaking cuticles or rubbing out or getting on the scale or clipping toenails or any of a dozen other things… and the cool-out hose. Faingers hated them all. But he liked me, and he trusted me. And I cooed him and cuddled him through every single one of them. “You know I won’t do anything to hurt you, right? Here now, just be a nice boy and stand on the scale, step into the bucket, lemme peek in your ears, gimme your toetoes, I’ll be careful…..” and he’s come to be very good at everything.
Except the hose.
That, my friends, remains a rodeo ride, and no amount of cooing will get him under the spray.
Alright then. I have to cool this dog somehow. There are 2 dip tanks at trackside, filled with cool water for precisely this purpose, and I made a special point one day to collect Faingers after his race. (Usually, I don’t pick up races. I have a pick up guy for that.) “Here honey, let’s go get in the tub”.
Um… no. This is unfamiliar territory Lady, and I’m not going there. Not with you, not with anybody.
With a little cooing, and all the strength I have in me (I’m all of 115 pounds), I lifted his 73 pound self carefully into the tank. There now, isn’t that better? I swished the cool water over his hot body, tickled him in all his favorite places, and heaved him back out of the tank. And I couldn’t read the look on his face. He was either hating me and all of mankind, or he had just had the most wonderful experience of his life. Time would tell.
I can’t always be there to pick him up, and I’ve asked my pick-up guy to please put him in the tank if he can. Sometimes he can, but if he has more than 2 to collect… he really kinda can’t. So the next time I was able to, I hurried to collect my Faingers from his race, so I could tank him.
Faingers strolled along with me to the tank, and didn’t hesitate. Yes indeed, the tank is just fine. I lifted him in and swished the water over him. He was happy. So was I.
Meantime, back at the ranch, Faingers has shnoogled his mighty fine self into Boyfriend status. Turnouts are delightful while he is in them. I let myself into the boys yard, and here by golly he comes. Wagging his face and laughing. Oh yes, he laughs. Plants his face on my hip and … oh I’m such a sucker.
So on Saturday, I went along to collect my Faingers. My pick-up guy had 4 dogs to collect, and there was no way he’d be able to tank him. Not a problem. I’m enjoying this.
“Here dear”… and I walked my brand new Boyfriend to the tank. With my hand on his collar, I could feel him bunching up. Readying for… something. I wasn’t sure what. And he threw his front half into the tank. All that was left for me to do was hoist his rear end in.
I think if I’d let him go, he’d have made the leap all by himself.
Fred and JackJack, I will love you guys forever. I promise I will. But Faingers.. you’re The One.