A Dog’s Love

A Dog’s Love

From Chicken Soup for the Dog Lover's Soul

A Dog’s Love

After two months of my puppy playing tug-of-war with me, one day he just stopped. No matter how much I dangled the rope in front of Rusty, he would not pull on it. The most he would do was take it and chew on it, but the second my hand touched the rope, he would drop it.

Several days later he began to lay his head on my stom-achwhen I sat on the couch. Thiswas cute until he began to growl at my husband or daughter when they approached me. It was irritating, but didn’t seem too serious until he actually nippedmy daughter for jumping onme. After that, my husband and I decided that we needed to find Rusty a newhome, probably onewithout any children. We thought it was very odd because he had been so very friendly and good with our daughter up until that incident.

Weeks later when we had finally settled on a new home for our puppy, I discovered I was pregnant. My husband and I felt that Rusty had somehow sensed that I was pregnant before we did and, with his odd behavior, was only trying to protect the baby growing inside me. I was the happiest I had been in weeks. We called the people we had found to give Rusty a new home and told them we had changed our minds.

Later that day I called our veterinarian’s office and told them what had been happening. Apparently, this is normal for dogs who have developed a strong attachment to females. They suggested that my husband and daughter approach me at a slower pace and try to be gentler when they touched me.

We tried this, and after a week or so, Rusty began to ease up and let them sit by me. He continued to rest his head on my stomach and acted protectively when he felt I was threatened. As time went by he began to bark at me if I lifted anything heavier than clothes or if I started to clean the house. By the time I was three months pregnant, he even pulled on my pant leg if I was on my feet for too long. As soon as I sat down, Rusty would let go and lie at my feet or next to me with his head on my stomach. He often fell asleep this way and would wake up if I moved. Until that time I had no idea that dogs could be so protective or so sensitive to their humans’ needs.

When I reached the four-month point in my pregnancy, Rusty’s behavior toward me changed abruptly. One night, I was sitting on the couch watching TV when he got up on the couch and laid his head on my stomach. Nothing unusual about that—until he jumped back up and started barking, looking directly at my stomach. My husband and I were baffled.

After that Rusty would not go anywhere near my stomach. He let me pet him for a few minutes but no more. He no longer seemed comfortable around me for any length of time. I grew increasingly nervous as the days passed. I just knew that Rusty was trying to tell me something. My husband insisted I was being silly because I was not having any problems with my pregnancy and there were no signs to indicate that anything was wrong.

A week later Iwent to an appointmentwithmy doctor— and discovered that the baby’s heart had stopped beating.

It was what Rusty had been trying to tell me.

I was crushed, left to wait out the miscarriage I would soon have. After returning home from the doctor’s, I could tell that Rusty sensed how upset I was, but he still kept his distance. It was the same wary distance he had kept for the last week.

My husband was still at work and my daughter at school. Miserable, I sat down on the couch and began to cry. Rusty slowly inched closer and closer to me. Finally, he jumped on the couch. I could tell that he was tense. He sat stiffly, making sure to stay away from my stomach. As I continued to weep, he sat beside me, watching me, his eyes full of concern. Then slowly, he leaned over and I felt his tongue on my face, licking away the tears that rolled down my cheek. This released a fresh flood of tears. I wrapped my arms around him, hugging him tightly. He stayed close, licking me and letting me cry my heart out into his warm, furry neck. His body slowly relaxed and soon I felt better, soothed by his loving presence.

It took me two weeks to miscarry. The whole time Rusty would not leave my side. He followed me wherever I went. If I sat on the couch, he was right there next to me, doing all he could to comfort me. Whatever deep natural instinct had kept him away from me had been overridden by his care and concern for me. I was so grateful. Rusty’s love was the bright spot in that dark time in my life.

Kelly Munjoy

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