*This post was updated with new pictures in 2019
Twelve years ago, I swore I’d never get another dog. Our fifteen year-old dog and our seventeen year-old cat died within the same week. Our cat Sebastian, was well-mannered and loved much. I missed him, but I knew he had lived a full, happy life. I was depressed about the death of our dog for different reasons. I had regrets because of the life our dog had lived under our care.
I would like to say that Bootsie, was beloved by me. But, I cannot. She had been a difficult dog, and we were her ignorant, preoccupied owners. She wandered up to the “love nest” (Maw-Maw’s name for our newlywed home) about 27 years ago.
I had never owned a dog before, and my views on the subject were idealistic. I had seen too many Lassie and Old Yeller movies, I guess. Bootsie was a good-natured mix of a German shepherd and a Labrador, but she was also a powerhouse of a dog. Her tail could clear the knick-knacks off the coffee table in a New York minute.
Although she was a friendly dog, she was difficult to manage.
She dug trenches instead of holes, gnawed away the side posts to our back porch, and regularly broke her very thick chain. She barked until our neighbors lost their patience.
Sometimes when we were away people would throw things, like pears, at her. One night, a car pulled into our driveway. With its lights shining into our windows, the driver blew the horn and yelled at us to shut our $&@&!$ dog up.
To compound things, she was afraid of thunder and lightning. She would howl like a wolf anytime it rained. At our love nest, she would break the chain and dig a hole under the shed, and become stuck under it. One time we nearly had to jack the shed up just to get her out.
After we bought our little cottage we were suddenly in closer proximity to other houses than before. My husband had to sit under the carport with her whenever it rained, to keep her from waking up the whole neighborhood. She also broke her chain continually, which made it hard to let her go outside.
I always wondered why she wouldn’t frolic and play outside, or walk calmly on a leash, like other dogs. We tried building her a pen, with an electric fence, but she dug under it and ran away. Why wouldn’t she just ‘do right?’
Like Superdog, she was faster than a sprinting owner, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to dig under tall fences with a single paw. I can still remember her, running down the road, dragging a chain bigger than Jacob Marley’s, behind her.
In the end, she lived a sad life, mostly inside our shed, where she couldn’t escape, or bark incessantly. I tried walking her, but she dragged me instead. My husband worked a lot, and was too tired to deal with her properly.
I am sure that someone else could have done better. In addition to being an inexperienced dog owner, and lacking the strength to handle her, I also had four children during her lifespan. I was busy, to say the least. In hindsight, I wish I had tried harder to train her, or paid for an obedience class. I have always mourned the lack of quality in her life. Scripture is sharper than a two-edged sword, and the following verse troubled me anytime I came across it.
A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal,
But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10
Fast forward 10 years later, my then six year-old animal lover began to ask for a dog. My answer was always no. When my husband was asked if he wanted a dog, he would say, “No, not even a little bit.”
Then, out of the blue, something strange happened to me. One morning, I was minding my own business, doing a craft activity for my friend’s kindergarten class at church. While I was setting things up, she read the class a book. It was titled No Roses for Harry, by Gene Zion.
The book was about Harry the Dirty Dog. In the story, Grandma knits Harry a green sweater decorated with roses. Harry hates it, of course, and it eventually ends up being woven into a beautiful bird’s nest. Harry’s antics made me want a dog again. If you don’t want a dog, avoid reading books about Harry the Dirty Dog at all costs.
I began to research Harry, to find out what breed of dog he was. “We will never get another dog” became “Maybe we will get a dog someday.” I began to pray that God would send us just the right dog.
I wanted a lap dog; something small that I could manage on my own. I also wanted a puppy, because I felt that a younger dog would acclimate better than an older dog to our cat. I liked the idea of a poodle, because of their temperaments, and the fact that they do not shed. Much to my dismay, I found that both the toy and the miniature poodle were quite pricey, ranging from $500 to $1000 dollars.
My husband was funny. Anytime I mentioned a certain breed he would say something to make me NOT want that particular dog. I would say something like, “What about a pug?”
Then he would say, “They have juicy eyes.” He knew how I was, and that ‘juicy eyes’ would be a deal breaker for me.
Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why dogs cost money, but cats are free. We have the most beautiful, amazing cat in the world. His name is Napoleon. He goes outside to use the bathroom, and “knocks” on the screen door when he wants to come back inside. Cats are so convenient, and easy. They should cost more than all the other pets. I think they are simply misunderstood, and under-appreciated. But that is a subject for another day.
Anyway, we ( I use the term ‘we’ loosely) were waiting on the Lord to send us the right dog. Around the 2nd week of December, we were in Verizon buying my oldest daughter a phone for Christmas. The salesperson told me about a couple in Summerville, SC, that breeds Morkies. The price was right, and they lived only an hour and a half away.
I had never heard of a Morkie. I found that the Morkie was an irresistible mix of a Maltese and a Yorkshire terrier. The breed did not shed, and did well with families and other pets. As a bonus, they ranged from only 4 to 8 pounds when full-grown. This had to be the dog for us.
I called the couple, and they had two seven week-old puppies, a male and a female. They sold the female while we were thinking things over, so I had to quickly act on the male. He looked a lot more like a Yorkie than a Maltese, so his markings and coloring were more beautiful than the previously sold female. It was meant to be!
Our new dog Hercules is a welcomed addition to our family. We brought him home to our little cottage on December 15th, armed with food, bowls, treats, a dog bed, toys, a collar, and a leash from Pet Smart. I love that store. It reminds me of a Babies R Us, only it is for new puppy owners, instead of new parents.
Nowadays the internet can educate even clueless dog owners like me. We chose the crate-training method, which is not for the weak or weary, but is supposedly the quickest and most effective. We hold him and play with him when he is awake, and put him in the crate when he sleeps, giving him no opportunity to use our rugs as a toilet. We take him outside to potty about once an hour, if he is awake.
My now 8 year-old dog lover is so helpful. A lot of times children don’t follow through on their promises, but she really has. Of course I was pleasantly surprised because I am cynical by nature.
I love our new dog, and I am so happy to be living the dream of finally having a family dog. Of course we bought him a Martha Stewart snowflake sweater trimmed in fur. It’s a good thing, and I know that my God is a god of second chances.
Then I will make up to you for the years that the swarming locust has eaten,
the creeping locust, the stripping locust and the gnawing locust,
My great army which I sent among you. Joel 2:25
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