Heart Pawing Tales
By Teri & Jerry Maxwell
On a hot summer morning in 2005, two Great Pyrenees puppies showed up in our miniature donkey barn. They were about 10 weeks old and both
By Teri & Jerry Maxwell
were boys. The leader of the two was white with darker markings on his face and ears and the smaller one was solid white. The pups were full of burrs and dirty, but so happy to follow us to our yard. Late that afternoon after we cleaned them up, a neighbor showed up and said they were his and had dug out of his fence. He took them, they returned the next day and we brushed them out again and the neighbor came and picked them up. After the third time, our neighbor said he was going to stake them out in his yard so they wouldn’t run away and my husband said “no, we want them and they want to be here”…and so they were. We already had three dogs and my daughter wanted the larger little one and named him Brodie. The then smaller one became Gus.
When Gus was three, he had to have knee surgery and we took him to a surgeon that had done superb work on one of our other rescue dogs. Gus, who fully grown is 130 pounds and now larger than Brodie, had every complication one can imagine. To sum it up…after five operations and a three month stay at Texas A&M Animal Hospital, Gus still could not walk. The vets recommended that we put him down, but my husband told me “Teri, just bring him home, he’ll figure it out”. And he did. He is now six years old and gorgeous and gets around by scooting using his ultra strong front legs and his one semi good back leg to push. He navigates our entire house, goes outside and down a ramp to do his “business” and is a real pro at it.
We call Gus our resident “Aggie” because of his stay at A&M and the money spent would have gone a long way towards graduating a young student!! He is the center of our now five dog household and is an inspiration to all that know him and keep up with his story on our website. Brodie lives with our daughter in town with his two much smaller “siblings” but visits often and is referred to as our grand-puppy. Gus is a dog of a lifetime and the love in his eyes for us is only matched by our love for him.
By Victoria Harris
Here is Spanky an 18 month old Shih Tzu. I got him when he was 14 weeks old, he’d saved my life! I was going through an extreme shift in my personal life. My partner and I ended our relationship, after 19 years. Though I know it was for the best, it still was devastating to be “alone” after so many years. Spanky came into my life a few weeks afterwards, and it could not have been sooner! He is a lover, a friend, and now, part of my family.
By Diane Garcia
On our Rottweiler puppy’s first day home, Ripley trotted straight to the family room where we watch TV, jumped up on the 3-seat sofa and made herself comfortable on the middle cushion where we had placed a blanket and pillow for her. We put the toy that came with her next to her. It was a pink stuffed toy shaped like a big ring that had a rattle and squeaker inside. It was made to look like an elephant with ears, a trunk and four short legs so it came to be called “El-fant.” Ripley was so small that she only occupied one-third of the center cushion.
Ripley filled the emptiness left since our last Rottweiler had passed away. We spoiled our “only child” by giving her lots of toys for her toy box. Quickly she learned to retrieve a toy by its name from the toy box. I taught her the name of each toy and a sound associated with each. Her stuffed cow said, “moo,” of course. Once we were watching a movie in which there was a scene with a cow mooing. Her ears perked up, she ran down the hall to her toy box and brought back her toy cow.
Although she enjoyed all her toys, El-fant could not be far away from her and she slept with it every night. That was one toy which she would not put in the toy box and would not bring on command. Although she had her own pillow, we gave her a second pillow for El-fant and that
She would take her position on the center sofa cushion between us to watch TV in the evening. She grew larger than the second cushion and had to place her head in my husband’s lap for maximum comfort. Often she would bring El-fant to watch TV along with us. Close to bed time we would tell her to take El-fant to bed. She would gently carry it in her mouth, place it beside her, curl up and go to sleep. Several rituals were developed over time revolving around walks, rides in the car, trips to the forest, staying in motels but Ripley made her own rules regarding her special pink companion.
During the day I would often hear sounds of her squeaking or bouncing a toy in another room. On several occasions I was surprised to find that she had taken El-fant to the room and placed it on the floor while she played with a toy. I observed her when she was unaware of my presence and it appeared as though she was entertaining her special friend. Sometimes she would get El-fant and stroll all around the house, exploring each room, as though she were taking it for a walk.
One day I was curled up on my side of the sofa, miserable with head pain from a migraine episode. While Ripley stood staring at me, I told her that I was sick. She watched me for a short time then left the room. My eyes were closed when I felt something touch me. I opened my eyes and saw that she had placed El-fant in my lap. She walked away to a favorite spot near the front door.
It was impossible to bribe her to give you that toy. If you picked it up when she was out of the bedroom and made it rattle even slightly, she would come running, appearing anxious until it was put back to rest on its pillow or given to her. However, over the years, if my husband or I were sick with a cold or flu, recovering from surgery – whatever made that sensitive dog determine we were in need – she brought that toy. It apparently was a comfort to her so she would bring it to comfort us.
Once I discussed this with our veterinarian who had never heard of any dog’s behavior with a toy quite like that. We wondered if Ripley maybe considered El-fant a litter-mate since it had always been with her.
You could not ask for more from a companion dog than Ripley gave. She was generous with her affection, efficiently guarded the house, never had “accidents” in the house and never chewed or damaged anything. She took pleasure in human company, had a friendship with a dachshund and a cat as a puppy, liked to visit nose-to-nose with neighborhood horses and watch them on television (she recognized their sounds). She was gentle, curious and full of love.
Two weeks before Ripley’s 10th birthday, she lay with her El-fant, chin resting on her pillow and closed her eyes for her last nap.
We miss her terribly but are so grateful to have lived with this precious being. El-fant is with us, little faded and flattened from years of Ripley’ kissing and cuddling.
Rest in Peace, Ripley.
By Kylinn Engebretson
Our lab, Kimber, is our little princess. My parents raised labs all of my life, and she is one of the smartest I have known. When she’s hungry and her bowl is empty, she will bring it right to my feet. When she’s thirsty but there’s nothing in her dish, she will find a cup and bring it to me (hint hint mom!). We only say things once or twice and she understands right away. When giving her a treat we tell Kimber to be “nice” and she will very carefully slide the treat in between her teeth, without touching our fingers at all. Some people say she is lucky to have my boyfriend and myself as her owners, but I say that we are lucky to have her in our lives.
By Elaine McKinny
A week after our beloved Siberian husky, Shoshone died, my boyfriend and I went out looking at Siberian litters. We had no intention of purchasing another dog when we arrived at the breeders place. He had three different litters from three sets of Siberian parents. All of the puppies were adorable and very well socialized, but the little white girl with a wad of poop on her flank seemed to take to us immediately. We picked up puppies, played with them, met the parents, and took up three hours of the breeder’s time. During all that time all the puppies left us for other pursuits, all except the little white girl. She went off to play and explore, but always came back after a few minutes of being away from us. To my hesitation, my boyfriend and I talked and decided we would purchase one of the puppies. My only stipulation was that we could not get the black and white one (too much of a reminder of Shoshone). I didn’t even have to make that stipulation because we had been chosen by the little white girl. We brought her home and named her WaSuka (meaning Snow Dog in Lakota). That was four years ago and she is the light of our lives. She is happy, athletic, a little squirrely, and she loves us unconditionally. Sometimes we talk about the day we got her and we always refer to her as the “puppy that always came back.”