10 June 2010, 08:25
Tuesday was Hank Williams’ 10th birthday. Happy birthday Hanky! We spoiled him all day, with a party hat, some bacon, & many, many belly rubs. But Hank’s life wasn’t always about party hats & belly rubs.
Nine years ago, The Dish found Hank Williams on the side of a highway at 2am. He was driving along when he saw a dog thrown from a van. He immediately pulled over, picked the dog up & put him in his car. He was in shock & was so limp that The Dish thought he might die.
The next morning he took Hank to a veterinarian. The vet wanted to put Hank down, saying it was a waste of time to try & save him, but the second vet he saw said he would patch it up, though it would be expensive. The Dish sold his car a day later to pay the $8000 medical bill.
Hank had been owned by people who were involved in dog fighting, & because Hank is such a chilled-out dog, had been used as bait. (To this day, he still has hairless patches on his legs from where he was bitten.) When The Dish found him, he was totally emaciated & so malnourished that his fur was falling out in huge clumps.
Despite all these things, Hank is the most amazing dog I have ever met. He is completely content, happy & relaxed — he is like the Zen master of dogs. I love him more than I can say, he brings me unbelievable amounts of happiness. I love him so much that I don’t even mind that every single thing I own is unrelentingly covered in caramel-coloured hair! Haha!
So, ever since The Dish & I started living together (October 2009), he has talked about how much “Hank needs a friend”. Hank is getting older & when dogs have a younger friend introduced, it often helps to keep them active & healthy for longer. We discussed getting a puppy back in March, & after I finally said yes, The Dish changed his mind. He told me that it wouldn’t be fair on me if we had a puppy, because I would be the one who had to deal with the madness 24/7. (I work from home while he gets to escape to the relative safety of his workplace!) Puppies are a lot of work, which is something a lot of people don’t realise!
A couple of weeks ago, the three of us were walking along East 10th Street when we passed an animal shelter which opened fairly recently. They always have cats in the window & usually when I go past, it looks closed. This time, though, there were a couple of people sitting outside & a bunch of crates next to them. There were kittens & puppies, a very noisy dachshund & then, in the cage on the end, was a little dog who caught my eye instantly.
I walked over to her cage & kneeled down to look at her. She was small, about half Hank’s size, & white covered with black speckles, with one black ear. She had the most soulful eyes I’ve ever seen. I looked up at The Dish who was clearly as taken as I was, & I started asking the owner about her.
She had been found down south. Pregnant & emaciated, she had been abandoned by her previous owners. Some people had almost adopted her, then changed their mind. She had been through a few shelters in her time. She was a mix, part pitbull & part tickhound, & at one & a half years old, was fully grown at 30lbs (13kg).
She had given birth to her litter in January, & so had another dog. Sadly, as is quite common in dogs, the other one had killed some of her puppies, & so she adopted the remainders as her own! She looked after them & nursed them just like all her other puppies. ()
Angela asked us if we’d like to take her for a walk. We looked at one another & then at Hank, & said yes. We took her from her cage & walked her & Hank around the block. She was so sweet & excited, & her & Hank couldn’t have been a better match. They liked one another straight away, & when we took them for a walk together, they acted as if they had known one another for years. It was heartbreakingly adorable.
We fell in love with her quickly. We visited her every day to take her for walks & get her accustomed to us & to Hank. We bought her a leash & collar & took her to the groomers for a wash & a pedicure. (Dogicure?!) We took pictures, trained her how to sit on command & not to pull on her leash when we walk her. We also decided to rename her as Dolly (as in Parton — goes nicely with Hank Williams, & how good does Dolly Darling sound?!). It was confirmed. We needed her as part of our family.
To make a long story short, she was spayed on Friday the 4th of June, & The Dish took her home that afternoon. She was a little woozy but has settled in really, really well. I arrived back that night from Las Vegas to an adorable, peaceful puppy palace! Amazing! During the day, she hangs out with me & Hank in the apartment, but has been sleeping in her crate & will continue to do so until she is totally healed & everyone is comfortable. The crate is on loan but we just ordered another one so we can return the original. We think it’s a good idea for her to have a space that is her own, especially since she’s used to sleeping in there.
They told us that the only reason why it has taken such a long time for her to be adopted is simply because she looks like a pitbull. They have a really unfortunate reputation as being these dangerous, psychotic animals, but in the end, whether it’s a poodle or a pitbull, the responsibility for a dog’s behaviour lies with the owner.
When dogs are beaten, abused or abandoned, they are left with major emotional & behavioural problems — just like people. But just like you would never tell someone from an abusive family that they are a lost cause, dogs aren’t either. They just need firm, loving discipline.
You can read more about pitbulls here or check out Pitbulls On The Web. This is a great, easy to read piece on dog psychology & how to discipline a dog. Additionally, Cesar Milan has heaps of great information at his website, including this article on mastering the walk.
Dolly is doing wonderfully. She loves to try & make out with Hank Williams, & he likes to lick her ears. She has THE LONGEST tongue for such a small dog, I think she must be 80% tongue! Her favourite thing to do is to walk over to me & try to kiss me & lick the air ferociously. She is also rather fond of my jandals but is being strongly discouraged from going for the shoe collection!
This is what it looks like at the moment when I try to get any work done… Note Hank in the background, completely placid!
If you’re considering getting an animal, PLEASE give serious thought to adopting one from a shelter. When you take on a dog which has been abused or neglected, you’re giving it a life it would never be able to have without you. These animals need our compassion & love more than you could imagine!
I’ll be writing more about our adventures with Dolly as time goes on. Please let me know if you have any questions!