October 12, 2020

Josie Wales: The Outlaw Dog who Rescued Me.

Author's Own

My love for this girl is unlike anything I’ve ever known.

I found her through a rescue company four short years ago. It seems unfair that a dog lives seven years in one. It is simply not a favorable timeline. I would need more like 100 years in one to explore each day with her by my side and feel it was enough. 

To be light on our feet, full in our hearts, playfully enjoying the natural landscapes of Fairfield, CT. The wooded trails that provide us shade throughout the humid summer months, abundant with small animals to chase. The joy I receive witnessing her alert stance and eagerness, poised with her head held high, her tail outstretched long, and an open-mouthed grin. She knows it is just a matter of seconds before a chipmunk dare leaves the safety of their home of an old stone wall. They weave for miles throughout these trails, the remains of old property lines now the shelter of the small creatures who thrive in their abundance. 

While at the beach through fall and winter, she tops out her highest speeds running through the soft sand. Eager to harass the seagulls, she charges them while barking, forcing them closer to the water’s edge. She is cautious to keep her paws from touching the lapping water, preferring to remain dry, she is quite prissy when it comes to water. 

She is a mutt—a combination of perfection. She is mid-sized and agile. Quick on her feet, yet graceful in her mobility, she isn’t just following animal instincts, she is calculated in what she does. With her freedom off-leash, she always returns. Will forcefully take the lead, but won’t go too far ahead, to make sure I’m not falling far behind. 

When not out exploring, she sleeps quietly, rarely upset by passersby. Could care less about the mail delivery, or a knock on the door, she prefers her slumber to seek who enters the house. But from wherever she is cozied up and snoring, footsteps on the kitchen floor, or the sound of the fridge opening will surely entice her out of any resting spot. 

Her soft amber fur is smoother than satin and her upright ears make her look like a wolf, fox, deer, or horse depending on the angle she holds them at. She is wise and sassy. Happy to be saved from her past abuser, she is not shy to express what she prefers doing and is stubborn to get her way. It’s as if she knew she deserved better than what she had, and can’t let any situation for adventure, joy, or food pass by.

I keep her collar loose when on the leash, empathic to her being chained up at her previous residence. We suspect she was always tied up since her collar wore all the fur off around her neck. I don’t fear she will escape; she only wants to be with me. And when she is testing my will, she may twist her head out of the collar but immediately sit and stare at me as if to say, No! Not doing it your way. 

I don’t mind most of the time—this is how she tells me things like she would rather walk the other direction, go home instead of further, avoid danger lurking around the corner, or request for a ride in the car instead. There are times where a power struggle begins, but finally, after four years, she has learned I am actually the alpha and will concede to my stern look and deep tone using her full name and she’ll follow my command. 

While hanging out at home, there is an occasional burst of energy and we will play tug of war. Of course, she always wins, the stuffed animal being her prize. She meticulously rips it open from the stitching, bit by bit, pulling all of the fluff out, then sucking on the limp fabric until she falls asleep. 

When not being playful, she rests. In any sunlight to soak in the warmth, or one of her many beds to sleep. When afraid, she finds a hiding spot to feel safe and secure when the upstairs children are being extra loud, teenagers are shooting off fireworks, or worse, the dreaded booms of a thunderstorm. She can sense them 15 minutes in advance.

Wherever she is, I will take time to lay with her and stroke her whole body, head to hip, and tell her how lucky I am she’s here. How much she has brought to my life, and the doorway she opened in my heart to love so freely again. She locks eyes with me and tells me she knows, and that it is her divine purpose, and that all I have suffered, she has too. Our pasts are oddly paralleled and she knows we were meant to be with each other to feel safe to love again. 

An embedded member of my pack, forever bound with respect. It doesn’t matter if we encounter a known neighborhood dog or a dog of a dear friend, her kind demeanor takes a back seat to a nasty beast who is quick to bare her teeth. Her ferociousness alarms everyone and is worse while on the leash. I think she is reacting out of her conditioning, feeling insecure, or needing to show her fierce protection of me, proving her loyalty. 

There is one dog she adores, Johann, from across the street. His mom and I are close, and we stay with him whenever she goes away. I don’t recall how we introduced them, but thankfully, it worked. It would be a real nuisance if they didn’t get along. I believe he just tolerates her; she isn’t the nicest friend. She is one of those bossy b*tches who takes toys right out of others’ mouths and will eat any food around if left unattended. 

Now, I’m new to this dog relationship thing, and I know they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I call bullsh*t on that. Just as we all are a work in progress, she is too. She has wounds from her dark days on the chain. Just as I have mine from how I was brought up. When her eyes lock with mine and we gaze through those distant memories, we understand how we came to find each other and how we will heal and make it better together. 

It took her a while to fully trust me—only recently she began to cuddle up and pervade my personal space, something I didn’t realize I would enjoy so much. Her sweetness to me is unparalleled, which she proves with unlimited kisses. Her teeth are missing in places and barely there upfront; all are browned by past neglect, so her generous licks leave behind a smell resembling low tide. I don’t care though; that’s how deep our love goes. 

She only gets in my bed on cold winter nights when she needs the extra warmth of my down comforter and body heat. I am appreciative of her need, as it is mutual. I appreciate even more that she loves sleeping in her bed most nights, nestled in the corner of my closet, dressed with her own fleecy blanket as I selfishly enjoy sleeping diagonal, alone in the absence of fur on my blankets and pillows.  

She is my perfect companion.

She will make her way up on my bed to let me know a new day has begun. If I am not ready to rise, she will happily make herself comfortable until I am. And when my alarm sounds, I don’t snooze, I shut it off, roll over, and welcome her stinky, sweet kisses.  

Before her, I would snooze multiple times and awaken with a heaviness that wouldn’t lift until after my morning rituals of coffee, yoga, and meditation. Now I have an instant smile and warmth in my heart, eager to greet a new day. From bed, we jump up to make my coffee before we take a loop around the neighborhood—that is if she feels up for it. 



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