The very first dog we owned after we got married was a terrier named Clem. I went with a friend to the Humane Society and fell in love with him. He did a frantic search of the place when we got home and then curled up and napped like our apartment was where he was always meant to be.
Every night after work I'd walk him in the cornfield across from the complex we lived in. Mark was in graduate school and Clem was my company on those long nights when Mark was still in the lab working. So connected that dog and I were that one day for no reason he lifted his leg and peed on Mark's lazy-boy in the living room. It was as if he'd read my mind and knew how much I hated that chair.
And then after a few years things got turned upside-down for me and Clem. I had a baby. Three weeks later Mark started a new job on the East coast. I was alone and I could not figure out how I was supposed to walk Clem, take care of a newborn and prepare to move thousands of miles away. I was overwhelmed.
Mark was equally overwhelmed trying to adjust to a new job in a new city and in his off hours find us a place to live. Finances were really tight and any apartment that would accept pets was too high for our budget.
Clem would have to stay behind.
I place an ad in the paper and an older man came to look at him. "Mind if I take him for a walk," he asked. "Please," I answered. "He has been neglected in that department lately and next to ice cream it is his biggest joy in life." They both came back and the deal was done. No money was exchanged and I gave him Clem's bed, food and water bowls and leash. Off Clem went wagging his tail and I closed the door and cried for hours.
The next night the guy called me up and said, "Ma'm, this is the sweetest dog I've ever had and I feel like I should give you some money to compensate you for him. I'd like to come by with a check." I cried again and told him he had no idea how happy it made me that Clem was going to be okay.
We've had two more dogs since Clem but no terriers. "If we ever get another dog," I announced after we put Henry down, "it will be a terrier." So for the last couple of months I've been scouring the pet rescue sights looking for another Clem. They go fast and a couple of times the dog I went to see had already been adopted by the time I got to the place.
Two weeks ago I found my terrier. A seven year old Yorkie that was turned in by a breeder. "He'll take some patience," they told me.
To say I didn't know what I was in for would be an understatement. He doesn't know how to walk on a leash even after dozens of attempts. He stays in his kennel a lot even though the door is always open. He likes dogs more than people. He has barked once. If you pick him up and put him on your lap he can't wait to get off. The only time I've seen him wag his tail is when he's running in the yard with Maggie and Nate's terrier. When he feels brave he sits by the front door but will run away and back to his kennel if anyone comes near him. He brings anything you give him into his kennel. He is a hoarder .
I sit on the floor outside of his kennel many times a day and talk to him. I look at that cute face, scratch him under the chin and say, "Who's the best dog ever?" I set treats out and coax him from his self-imposed jail. When his food bowl is filled I put the cat outside so he won't help himself to it before our shy, scared dog gets a chance.
He's my rehab project but he's got a shitload of trust issues that so far prevent him from letting go of his defenses and surrendering to all that the world has to offer.
Oh little Wrigley.........welcome to the club.