I never planned to have a dog. I’ve had cats most of my life, and always thought I preferred their self-contained demeanor. Cats don’t need much. Dogs, on the other hand, can be extremely needy.
My familiarity with dogs was limited to a few canines that belonged to neighbors. So when my son and his girlfriend brought their new canine family member to visit, I was nervous and ready to jump out of her path. Would she bite, or chew my shoes? Would she make a mess in my living room? Would she smell…like a dog?
My nervousness was increased by the dog’s size. Whitney was big – at least she looked so to me, since I was used to eightpound cats. Her age was estimated to be around four years. We don’t know what breeds are part of her heritage. We have guessed Lab, German shepherd and Doberman. But we’re not really sure.
Whitney was adopted from the Humane Society. She’d been sighted running around in a fast food restaurant parking lot. Something was wrong with one of her back legs. An employee called the Humane Society and the injured dog was picked up. Her left back leg couldn’t be saved, and had to be amputated.
My son and his girlfriend were at the Humane Society a few weeks later, interested in fostering a dog. This three-legged underdog seemed the perfect target for their compassionate hearts. Employees at the Humane Society had named her Whitney, in honor of Whitney Houston who passed away the day the new dog was brought in.
Whitney gradually won me over. As I said, I was used to the aloof independence and indifference of my cats. I was completely unprepared for the affection and attention that a rescued dog can offer.
Over the summer, my son and his girlfriend came often, bringing Whitney. As I realized later, this frequency of visits was due to more than family togetherness. It also had a great deal to do with the fact that this dog could not be left alone. Ever.
She was affectionate but docile, which my son and his girlfriend belatedly realized may have had more to do with her pain meds than her temperament. As she recuperated after her surgery, her robust vitality and excellent voice returned. She terrorized their three cats with her friendly outbursts, and crowded the Sheltie who shared her food bowl.
And then there was her separation anxiety. After a few months, the out-of-control panic and shrilling proved too much for my son and his girlfriend, and for their other animals. They tried a number of things to try to deal with it, but her grief was unending and over the top whenever they had to leave her alone.
Faced with the possibility that Whitney could wind up back at the Humane Society and given to someone else yet again, my husband, our younger son and I put our heads together. Our youngest had formed a bond with Whitney after spending considerable time doggy-sitting so she wouldn’t be alone when his big brother needed to go out.
It seemed wrong that a dog who had been so traumatized, and had lost her original family, should be sent away simply because she loved too much, missed her people too much. And after all…she was family now.
So we took her in. And she took us in as well.