Friday, July 18, 2014


I have a dog. Her name is Gypsy. She's black and white; a Border Collie-Black Lab mix. Essentially, a mutt.

I love her to pieces.

She's a bit high strung, and only as intelligent as a dog can be while still being a dog, and she loves Dana more than she loves me. Me who raised her from a puppy and taught her all she knows. But I don't mind that much.

I'd wanted a dog since I was eight. I finally got one when I was eighteen. Gypsy. The Orchards know a lot of people, so when they heard one of their farmer friends' dog had puppies, they alerted us. We went over there a few days later to take a look.

Choosing Gypsy four years ago.
Momma dog watched over a litter of squirming little rascals inside a small fenced in area. As we walked up to say hi, my Momma commented,

"Wow, that's a lot of kids."

Then we counted them. There were nine. Momma laughed.

She and I visited several times before I finally picked the one I liked. She was one of the smaller ones, content to waddle around the outskirts of her many siblings and chew on a piece of red twine she had claimed as her own. She was a little round fuzzball when I got her. She wailed the whooooooollleeee way home. And then wailed some more into the night.

I put her into a routine. Eat, wake, sleep. It worked pretty well. She was house trained in no time, learned her boundaries quickly, and slept a LOT. I made her a little bed out of an old blanket and stuck it in the corner for her to sleep on, but somehow or another, she always managed to wriggle off of it before her nap was over. Completely in her sleep.

Then she grew. Sort of. All the wrong parts of her grew first. Her ears, her tail, her paws. She looked hilarious. One ear stuck straight up like a radar tower, while the other, try as she might, simply wouldn't stay erect. She was a lop eared mutt.

She discovered many things. She discovered that her toy squeaked, now that her mouth had grown large and strong enough to chomp down on it. She discovered a strange dog in the mirror that copied her every move. She discovered it was a very bad idea to bother the cats. They had claws, and were quite willing to use them. Especially on her tender, curious nose.

And boy did she have energy. She got so wound up that she would tear circles around the couch for minutes straight. Eyes wild, tongue hanging out, tail flopping everywhere in an attempt to keep her balance. Usually these events ocurred right when I was trying to get her to do something else. She seemed to think "chase Gypsy" was a wonderful game. I didn't share this opinion. At all. It took some time to convince her such games weren't worth it.

She grew some more. We moved to Florida and discovered she hated travelling. My health took a downward turn, and so did hers. That was an interesting year. We were both a mess. There came a time when we considered that we might have to give her away. I cried very hard, even though it was I who had brought it up. You see, Gypsy is a one person dog. She doesn't care for small children much. And I have a lot of  young siblings. Especially then.

I told her one night, "You're not exactly the best dog in the world, Gypsy."

As soon as I said it I knew I didn't mean it.

"Yes you are." Tears filled my eyes. "I love you so much."

Determined to do my best, I not only worked with Gypsy even more, I worked with myself. No more laziness. Time to push through. With the help of a wonderful dog trainer, and my Mother's steadfast encouragement, both I and my puppy came out of our slump.

I took her for walks in the sunshine. I couldn't walk for as along as I do now, still being somewhat weak, but there was a three mile trail right by our house, and I would take Gypsy nearly every day on that trail. One time we even got rained on. Completely drenched within thirty seconds. But then, that's Florida for you.

Another move, back up to IL. Gypsy did much better this time.

Now she's four. She's more settled, and I'm more active. We have a forest preserve right near our house, and I take her for walks there often. She still loves Dana more than me. I think it may have something to do with the fact that he's willing to throw her raggedy, slobbery yellow tennis ball over and over and over, and I'm not. She really, REALLY likes her ball. Goodness.

But I love her just the same. And I always will.

Dogs aren't sentient. They're not children, they're not friends. They don't understand what you're saying, what you're feeling, what you're thinking. Nevertheless they are something special. They are the most loyal of companions.

You give so much. You look after them so diligently and then one day you look down at where they're standing steadfast by your side, and realize they're looking after you, now, too.


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