14: A Really Good Dog

14: A Really Good Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog

A Really Good Dog

Fun fact: Most dogs that are used in TV and movies have been rescued from an animal shelter.

While some friendships grow over time, others happen fast. The first time you meet, it’s like you’ve always been friends. That’s how it was with my friend Cathy, who I met when I volunteered for a canine rescue group.

Cathy had her own tribe — two dogs — as did I, plus two cats. She also had a long-term foster, Gus, who had some behavioral problems she was working on. I had a large yard, so she often loaded up all her dogs to come over and play with all of mine.

One day, Cathy called sounding fairly panicked and asking if I could take Gus, who had bitten a repairman. It didn’t seem to be a bad bite, but the repairman apparently didn’t like dogs and pretty much wanted him shot on the spot. The police were called, and tickets were written.

Cathy had to appear before a judge within twenty-four hours, at which time Gus had to be removed from the village or be put down. The rescue had rules about dogs that bit, so it couldn’t help. My house was pretty full of dogs already, and I had kids about, so I wasn’t eager to take him. Things weren’t looking good for Gus.

Cathy was also trying to reach another friend, Mary, who was especially fond of Gus, but she had been having some health problems lately, suddenly passing out for no reason anyone could discern, so we weren’t sure she would be up for it. Plus, she was at her limit for allowable dogs and had a neighbor that would have liked to ban dogs altogether. She was always watching Mary’s dogs and counting them. As it turned out, Mary was delighted to take Gus, feeling that since he looked so much like her own dogs, the neighbor wouldn’t know the difference!

Not long after, Cathy called to tell me that not only was Gus doing well with Mary, but he suddenly seemed to develop a sense for when Mary was going to have a “spell.” He would nudge her persistently until she sat down. Mary was able to have him designated as a service dog, and therefore he was not included in the maximum number of dogs she was permitted to have. He was also able to go to work with her as an official service animal, further relieving her angst over possibly having to quit her job because of her condition.

As an added benefit, Gus got to accompany Mary’s husband to visit the neighbor, wearing his service vest, to explain there would now be three dogs at their house.

We were delighted, thinking it couldn’t get any better, when Cathy called me again. She had received a call in the middle of the night. Seeing it was Mary’s number on the caller ID, she feared the worst. But as it turned out, it was Mary, not her husband, on the phone. Gus had woken her up, something he had never done. When he wouldn’t settle, she thought maybe he needed to go out. When she got up, he jumped in her bed. For all his problems, Gus had never gotten on the furniture.

It was then she noticed that her husband’s breathing didn’t seem right. She called the paramedics, and in the dead of that Midwestern winter night, they arrived in record time and rushed him to the hospital. Time was truly of the essence. With no previously known cardiac problems, he was in heart failure. They arrived in the emergency room with very little time to spare, saving Jim’s life.

Cathy and I have talked many times about how it seems that foster dogs seem to be on a journey. It’s as if they have a destination known only to them and will do what they have to in order to complete that journey.

In this case, I guess Gus had to be a bad dog in order to fulfill his destiny to be a really good dog.

~Beki Muchow

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