He’s my guy, and I love him.
Petey tumbled into my life in December 2015, a gift from God that Christmas. A wild pup at four months old, he challenged every limit of patience and training a grandmother, widowed woman could invest in a living being. Every effort was made to bring him around to my way of thinking. When he turned three (21 in dog years) that very thing happened.
He’s my soldier boy, always on alert for me. On our back country hikes in the wilderness, I may not always know where he is. But he knows where I am.
He’s my defender. If someone (or something) enters our space unannounced, this little tornadic fireball goes on the offensive, even chasing bears away.
He’s my angel. Intuitively knowing when I’m missing my family or worried about those I love, he’ll come from the farthest reaches of our property and sit on my lap.
He doesn’t say anything. Just being present is all I need. And though he weighs just over 22 pounds, he’s more than enough.er 22 pounds, he’s more than enough.
In all his sweetness and devotion, he’s still a dog. He’ll roll in poop or a fermented carcass given the opportunity of my back being turned. Then he drapes his stinky self over my shoulder as I’m driving us home. It’s then I’m inspired to write a country song, “Don’t Come Lovin’ On Me.”
I awaken in the morning to sounds of his morning hygienic grooming. Opening my eyes to the scene of his nose between his back legs does not lend to a pleasant beginning of the day.
He’ll obey my commands until his short attention span has ended, or yet, when he has better ideas. He always has better ideas, which lead to perils in which I must rescue him, or clean up the mess, or give exhausting explanations to his victims.
From moment to moment, I rarely know who is for whom… him for me, or me for him. Yet there’s no question about one thing- we’re stuck with each other, and we like it that way.
Two years ago this night, Santa Claus (aka Allen Voortman) met me at Janie Tippett's to deliver Petey, a Portugese Podengo pup. He was four months old.
I have not laughed so much and so hard as I have with this little guy. Nor have I cried such tears of frustration.
He is so expressive...
This boy has tried me to no end. "Who's the boss?" seems to be the running theme. The answer is whoever has the controls of the shock collar he's been wearing for 9 months. What a game-changer! Half the time I don't know where the controller is now. But just putting that on him each morning reminds him, and me, that he is still a terrier.
Babe was with us for a year. She was a great help teaching him dog manners in a way I never could. She's not with us anymore, but I'm grateful for her help.
During our two years together, he was charged with two felonies of fowl play. When the statute of limitations runs out on those charges, I will share those stories.
Petey had a homecoming of sorts a few weeks ago. Guess which one is his mother, Toto? She was easily annoyed by his wanting to PLAY, but she soon let him know she wasn't interested. Of her litter of six pups, Petey is the only one colored like she is.
A friend who recently saw Petey after a year's absence asked me, "Katherine, is Petey on Valium?"
Nope. The boy is growing up and calming down. I'm so proud!
Many writers are observers. That is, they watch people and situations more than engage in them. This describes me. My new little pup was the same.
January 2016, winter, I would let him out and then watch him through the window. He was content to sit at the end of my sidewalk and examine his surroundings, without running off.
Parking himself to see what was going on became such a routine for him, I began to call him "The Mayor of East Street." I was so pleased that he was content to stay in the yard, on his own.
"We're going to get along fine," I concluded.
But trouble again introduced itself. A red flag was raised when I took him for a walk. Having been born and raised his first four months on a ranch, where he had freedom, the leash idea was a puzzlement to him.
We stepped outside and he pulled on the leash. For the first time in his life, he was not in charge. At least for a few minutes. Then he regained control of the situation...
For any parents among the readers here, remember pushing your toddler in the stroller, and then one day he (or she) wanted to get out and push the stroller himself? You held onto the handle while he wrapped his pudgy hands on the side bars. You had to straddle the kid to keep up while he repeated, "I want to do it! I want to do it!"
That would be a good picture of how my first walk with Petey went.
Right from the beginning, I witnessed Petey making choices that showed he is pretty smart. In riding with me, he could not see out from the front passenger seat. So he figured he could see fine while seated upon the console. His style of doing this includes leaning on my right arm while I'm driving. When he gets sleepy, he drapes his head over my arm, while still sitting up, and snoozes. (Remember how Snoopy drapes his head over the top edge of his dog house? Same kind of thing.)
If you look closely at his markings, you will see a white spot on top of his head and white blazes at each shoulder... Halo? Wings? Being enamored with the little pup, I exclaimed, "Why, he's a little angel! And a smart one, too!"
His personality bounced back and forth from being clingy, and at other times, being headstrong and independent. It was winter- not the best time to teach housebreaking, but we muddled through it.
At first he went with me everywhere, but one evening, it was so cold out I had to leave him at home. I left him in the warm bathroom so he wouldn't have an accident on the carpet. Water, dog food, pee pad on the floor- all good. "He's such a little angel," I happily reminded myself as I drove out the driveway.
A little while later, I came home to this:
"Well," I concluded. "Maybe 'angel-in-training.'"
A joyous me and a concerned puppy headed home, and I told him right off, "I have a cat. I heard you're okay with cats, so this should work."
Petey has this thing he does (I don't know what to call it) where he raises his shoulders, his tail is erect and the whole body posture communicates "I'm in charge." (This is why I'm inclined to call him "Sgt. Pete.")
He approached Mosie like this, and I warned, "Good luck with THAT!" Mosie and I have gone 'round and around about who's in charge of this household, and I've always come out the loser. So at first meeting, I kept Petey on the leash in case I needed to grab him up if Mosie felt inclined to assert her authority with a painful swipe. First encounter went well.
Then I discovered he loved her cat food. So up she went until I could come up with another plan.
Mosie didn't speak to me for the month after Petey arrived. He tried to play with her, but she's too sophisticated for such. The more he tried to play with her, the more it irritated Mosie. It took a while for Mosie and me to adjust to this little yellow "twister" who would blow through the house with sharp barking, throwing himself at the door (BAM!) to go out, or volumizing his favorite squeaky toy I named, well, "Squeaky."
As I stated earlier, my expectations were to own another calm, obedient, orderly dog.
Janie had called and said Allen was bringing the new pup the next day. I couldn't sleep that night, planning all the things we would do like Brownie and I did. How he would be just as obedient and loyal, smart, and a joy to have around.
When Brownie died, I was certain I could never love another dog. Post-Brownie, I had tried loving again by treating my cat Mosie like a dog. My attempts at petting Mosie, inviting her to join me on walks, wanting her diligent company as Brownie had provided were all unsuccessful. With several scratches and a cat bite, Mosie convinced me THAT was not going to happen. As I reflect on this, I realize Mosie was grieving her own loss of Brownie. Many times I had found Mosie resting on Brownie's "spot" on the bed.
I had confided my problems with a close friend while I rode with her in the car. She is a cat afficiondo and nearly ran the car off the road as I described how I was treating Mosie.
"Katherine, YOU NEED A DOG!"
So that restless night, and for most of the day that I waited for Allen, my emotions rose and fell, playing with hope and mentally orchestrating how this would all work out.
As evening's darkness began to descend, Janie called and said Allen would be at her house shortly.
After arriving at Janie's, she and I enjoyed gazing at coyotes galloping across a field in the snowscape outside her window. Then we took photos of the Christmas tree lights reflected on the glass pane. My anticipation may have reached the similar apex as Mary awaiting the birth of her Son. It could be said, sort of, that she had been told the baby would grow to become a "game-changer. Did she wonder, "How am I to do this?" just as I wondered the same about little Petey on his way.
The dim image of a pickup truck came down the road. Slowed down...AND TURNED. I jumped into my boots and threw on my coat and waited at the head of the driveway. When the blue truck parked before me, a big man dressed in red and with a white beard bounded out of his truck.
"Ho, Ho, Ho!" he smiled and gave me a hug.
"Is this really Santa Claus?" my imagination flashed the question.
I enjoyed the friendly greeting, yet kept trying to peer around Allen. He stepped aside, and there was a little yellow pup curled into a circle on the passenger seat.
"He traveled really well," Allen said while reaching through the lighted interior. He turned and placed little Petey in my arms.
"He's so cute!" I exclaimed, fighting back tears.
Of course, it was too cold to stay outside for chit-chat.
Janie welcomed us both in, and I showed her husband Doug my little dog. He was enjoying this event as well. Even to this day, when I see Doug, he asks, "How's that dog of yours?"
We sat around talking. Janie and Allen caught up on news. She told him I was a writer and gave him the recent newspaper so that he could read my column. His chuckles warmed my heart.
Janie said, "Look at how Petey keeps looking at you, Katherine." I looked at him and he licked my cheek. His ears were laid back as though he was scared. I held him tighter.
What I know now is that when Petey's ears are laid back, most of the time he's thinking about how to take control of a situation. And perhaps that's just what he was doing in the picture below. Different people. Loud people. In a different place. Of course it was scary for him. As for me, I was too overjoyed to have any concerns over our future.
Like it was at the birth of each of my sons'. All I wanted to do was savor that moment of each my babies' arrivals. To just hold him and examine every nuance. To feel his softness and know that above all, he was mine to take care of, to teach, to enjoy, and most of all, to love. That's how I felt with Petey in my arms.
What do parents do when they adopt a child? For his birthday, do they celebrate the traditional day he was born? Petey was actually born in August 2015.
Or do they celebrate the date he entered their family? If it's the latter, then Dec. 22 we celebrated Petey's arrival one year ago, for that is the day he was born into my heart.
Love you, Little Guy:)
I do not wish to make a big issue of "signs" that foretell of something to come. In fact, I still struggle with believing such things can happen. But I had so many unusual things happen to indicate another pup was coming my way.
And as I sort out the story of this, I ask you to bear with my "backing" up once more, to the time between the dream and when I initially saw Petey's photo.
One day in September 2015, when the leaves were falling and being blown by crisp breezes, I visited friends at the EM&M building. The door to the hallway was left open, as it often is on comfortable weather days. I waded through leaves at the entry to reach my destination.
Realizing I forgot my keys, I waded back through the leaves, lightly kicking something underneath, yet not paying attention for I supposed it was a twig. Returning to the building, I again lightly stepped on something out of the norm, but my intent was visiting my friends, so I did not stop.
Once seated with my friends, I realized I had forgotten to bring in something my friends had requested. Another trip to my vehicle, another "slosh" through leaves, another bump under my boot. Having retrieved the item, I walked through the hall door insisting to myself this was the last time. I nearly tripped over that "thing" this time, and stopped.
"What is this I keep stepping on?" I asked out loud with exasperation.
I kicked away the leaves and found this:
"Strange," I mused. "This isn't colored like the puppy in my dream." I became somewhat nervous, wondering if this ragged, dirty and worn book was not to foretell the color of a future dog, but the personality. I brought the book home and left it out for me to see daily. It motivated me to pray, "God, if something like this is coming my way, please make me into the kind of person who can deal with it. Because today is not that day."
Perhaps that crack to the door of my mind is what was needed, to consider the possibility. For a few weeks later, in August, I awoke from a dream that had me smiling. It's rare when I dream, or perhaps I should say, remember a dream. But in this one, I dreamed that Godshowed me a puppy that was to be mine.. It was yellow with white markings, and as I laid my eyes upon it, a wash of warmth, pure love enveloped me and I felt peace. The first peace since Brownie died.
I was so happy when I got up and went online to google "yellow and white pups." The photo below was the closest to the puppy in my dream.
Of course, it would be a little Aussie, a girl, so much like Brownie. I rehearsed in my mind how I would train her, just like I did before. I imagined all the places we would go...
"What should I name her?" I wondered. "I will name her Goldie."
I printed out this photo and taped it on my refrigerator, Law of Attraction, you know.
My heart was ready now. I waited. And waited.
The snows came. Ever thinking of the pup, I walked up to my front door one afternoon after running errands and spied these:
Two sets of paw prints, one small, one large. "God, the dream only showed one dog. Why two sets of dog prints? Is there another one coming, too?"
Janie called. "Allen said he will be here tomorrow with your puppy."
I couldn't sleep that night.
Like I said earlier, my Brownie girl meant everything to me. She was beautiful, obedient, compliant. She anticipated my next move even before I thought it. She gave me an alarm when something was wrong that I was unaware of.
She had my back, and I had hers. No one and no thing could replace what she meant to me.
Yet a few things occured in the weeks that followed her death that opened my mind, and mostly my heart to the possibility of another dog in my life, with the caveat of course, that it be just like Brownie.
I was visiting Janie's cabin a few weeks after Brownie's passing. While walking around the yard, this dog appeared.
I did a double-take with my heart leaping inside. For a flash- "Brownie?"
It wasn't Brownie. It was Ken Hunt's dog which kept bringing me sticks to throw. "I don't want to throw a stick, " I told him. But he was insistent, bringing me stick after stick. This was just like Brownie- wouldn't quit until I acquiesced. Well, I did, and of course, that led into more sticks which probably would not have stopped had Janie and I not walked into the creek to cool off.
This dog (I can't remember his name) was so smart. As I chatted, this dog kept responding to my comments to Janie, such as "I need a stick to keep my balance." He brought me one, but I told Janie, "This one is too flimsy." In a minute he was dragging a big stick, almost a log, up the creek to me. We cracked up laughing. For the rest of my stay, he stayed close to me.
He was such a joy, such a pleasure, such a gift. I appreciated the few hours of dog-and-me time we had. Until he came, I had no idea I could enjoy another dog. My heart cracked open, just a crack mind you, to the possibility...
It's coming up on a year since Petey Podengo entered my life. I thought in the next few posts I'd give an account of our time together.
In my first phone call with Allen, he made the following very clear:
"He is a boy, not a girl."
"His name is Pete, not Petey. My wife calls him Petey, but it's Pete."
"He's a boy."
I assured Allen that I knew about boys. I had raised two sons who were well-adjusted adults, responsible citizens who contributed to society and were raising families of their own. Upon this information, Allen relaxed in knowing he had made his point.
A phone call, a connection, and I received an email with this:
"Sgt. Pete" I thought when I saw this. I cried tears of laughter and joy, mixed with sorrow over Brownie. "I've got to have this dog," I determined, and as December 2015 settled in, I watched the weather for a clear window for me to make the round trip to Washington.
As I worked on this traveling plan, Allen notified Janie he was coming to Wallowa County with the pup. More tears of excitement as I counted down the days and wondered about this little guy... (to be continued)