22 April 2011

Chimette: The Special Man at My Side 1997 - 2007

A friend of mine at the Doghouse-- let the fur fly! blog began something interesting- telling about each of the dogs in their home. I really liked that and thought I would write about my boys. This entry is about Chimette.

After problems with getting a service dog from a program (that's a topic for another entry) and being discriminated against due to disability at the county kill shelter when I tried to adopt a Border Collie mix (more mix than Border Collie), I found myself at an all breed rescue.

A wonderful teacher had recommended them to me. I did not want to be disappointed another time-- you know finding that perfect dog and being told they felt you could only care for a toy breed dog of certain disposition-- ie the couch potato dog. I was told they were a fair organization who truly wanted to find good homes for the animals in their care. I still felt I had to be sure. I called the rescue and explained the situation. I shared how I had my heart set on a Border Collie. Yes, for my first dog! LOL Yeah I was a bit on the naive side to say the least. In all fairness we did have dogs in our life as I grew up, including a Border Collie mix.

The rescue had a Border Collie mix. Was I interested? or Did I want a purebred Border Collie? Was I interested- Oh man alive I was! The animals were fostered in homes and came to the adoption site Saturday mornings and Wednesday nights. I could hardly wait until Saturday came around. When I got there, I found this six month old tri-color boy huddled in the back of the huge wire crate he was in-- ignoring everyone and everyone ignoring him. His card said his name was Archie. He was fully vaccinated, wormed, neutered, and ready for obedience training.

I still think of that song *How Much is That Doggy in the Window* when I think about him. I sat there talking to him for hours. I just could not pull myself away. There were other more suitable dogs including one with full obedience, but there were many reasons why I did not want her. There was one problem with this little BC boy (I'd learn of many more). Our lease required all dogs to be one year old and no more than thirty pounds at full growth. I quite obviously had a problem with him being cross-bred with a GSD. No one there could estimate how big he would get, but if his paws were any indication LOL

Alt Text: Chimette at 6 months showing huge paws

One of the hardest things I did was to leave him behind in that kennel; behind for someone else to fall in love with or for him to return to his foster home.

The next couple of days I could not stand it. I talked with management and was given the green light. I called the rescue where I learned they still had him. I had to wait two more days to bring him home.During that time I stocked my home with as many essentials as I could-- a new crate, toys, bowls, and IAMS dog food. I gag at the very thought of what I did to his poor body with that crap in a bag they called food. I tried to contain my excitement at the prospect that lay ahead for me-- my very first dog who may one day be my ears to the world.

Wednesday night came quickly. A friend and I boarded the bus to go bring my baby boy home. I had no idea what I was getting into really. I knew nothing about dog temperament. I saw Border Collie and I wanted him. This rather reminds me of impulse buying, but only because I was very naive and possibly impatient as well. After all I had already waited eight years on a program that had promised me a Border Collie.

We arrived early so we could see the staff arriving with the dogs that were available. When they opened the doors, we got to his kennel first. While my friend removed his card and went to find some help. I again found myself at his kennel talking to him. He seemed to remember me as he moved a bit forward in the kennel this time.

When the adoption process was complete and he realized he was leaving his foster mom, he tried to jump the table back to her. This was not a good start now was it? giggle Once on my lap, it was the beginning of a journey into the unknown- a journey filled with hope, promise, trepidation, trials, triumphs, and a love between a gal and her dog that was capable of surmounting any hurdle- well almost.

At first, Archie- renamed Chimette AKA Met, seemed to be suffering from lack of socialization. He was timid of men especially and had to learn about everything. He would not go busy in his yard for close to a year- and during a year of floods, I was not too amused by having to walk him when he had a perfectly good yard to use. I did it though and we endured.

Though we experienced a tumultuous time over the years we were together from vaccinosis, he never wavered in his role at my side. He lived for the job of taking care of me-- perhaps, in hindsight, a little too much. For ten years we were together-- either in training or service. He was truly the *very best* of the best IMO when it came to his ability to fulfil all of my needs- from hearing to vision to mobility to medical alert needs-- if I had the need, we figured a way (or he did) to assure a resolution.

In a way, having a dog like Met for one's first service dog, rather raises the bar a bit too high. When Met stepped out of harness and then out of life as well, he left what seemed impossible pawprints to be filled.

If you've read this far and are interested in more about our journey and life together, take a hop over to Pawsitively-K9 where you can read more about our journey (including life with vaccinosis) and the beginning of his successor Thane's as well.

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