Monday, January 19, 2009

Another Pack Member

The last dog to join the pack before Gibby was Patches. Patches had a pretty bad start in life, and it was my fault. Patches was one of Blue's puppies. I sold her to some really bad people. A grandmother came to the store when there was only one puppy left and begged me to sell the puppy to her for her grandson. She lived just two blocks away from the store and was a cousin of one of my friends. I was a little reluctant to deal with her because there seemed to be some kind of custody problems with the grandson, but I finally agreed and she gave me a down payment and named the puppy Patches. She gave me another $25 a month later, and then I saw her no more. Almost a year later, I heard some of her relatives telling my friend what a horrible situation it was. The poor puppy was kept in the basement all of the time. The grandmother never went into the basement and the grandson never cleaned up after the puppy. The clincher was that the grandmother was running a daycare center upstairs - and the basement stench was reaching the little children. I had some friendly customers in the store when we heard the story, one of whom had been one of my weaving students, and they offered to go get the puppy. I thought they would bring Patches to me, but they didn't, they took her home. They told me they had decided to keep her.

A year later, I got a really strange call from them. They said Patches was at the county dog pound and was about to be put to sleep. They said they had moved and had given Patches to a neighbor whose little boy was wheelchair bound and in love with Patches. They said they just happened to be walking through the pound, something they did every once in a while like other people visit a zoo - and anyway, they were leaving for Texas in an hour and would I take Patches?

Of course I took Patches. It turned out that they had abandoned the poor dog almost right after they took her. She had been living wild for a year. One of her survival techniques was stealing chickens from the people who finally trapped her and turned her over to the pound. I learned later that they had tried to keep her, that she had a litter of puppies while in their home, but she wouldn't stop being the wild dog chicken slayer.

She was delivered to me within a few minutes of that strange phone call, and has been with me ever since. Her mother never seemed to recognize her as her own. I had given George to Blue to raise and she recognized him as her puppy, not Patches. So, Patches has been back with me now for eight or nine years, and all of that time, Blue has pushed her around. They have had some pretty bad fights that resulted in bloody torn ears, but now they just bark at each other. Patches is obviously not only Blue's puppy, but also Ben's puppy - and that fact made me have an abnormal amount of patience with her. She has gotten into trouble too many times. She has run away too many times to count. She's terrible with the cats and I can't let her near the chickens. If she's hungry, and no one is looking, she finds a way to get whatever she wants. She has eaten bags of Hershey's kisses, foil wrappers and all. She's not exactly house trained. I never take her outside without a leash - a leash with two clips, one fastened to her collar and the other clipped on her harness. I have seen her make herself into a spaghetti that can slide right out of both collar and harness in a split second.

Finally, this year, she has accepted me as an important person. I was stunned the first time, after so many years, she jumped up into my lap. She didn't know how to relax and sit down, she only stayed a few seconds, but it was a start - she has finally been able to lay down in my lap and twice I have even held her and her mother in my lap through a whole tv show. The last time she ran away was the first time she didn't seem to have a place to go - she didn't head down the road, she just ran across the street to attack our neighbors Newfoundland. The poor Newfie was shocked and didn't fight back, so Patches just jumped on her and then actually came to me.

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