Meet Red, aka the “Big Red Stinky Dog”
About four years ago Mike and I decided that we had enough animals to last us awhile. We had our chocolate lab (Lucy), a cat (Amelia), a chinchilla (Sr. Swankey) and had recently put down a golden retriever (BO – “Big Oaf”) that we rescued. And then one morning, I heard Mike calling me from downstairs, “You have to come see what is on the back porch!”. I had no idea what to expect. When I got there, I saw a very sickly, starved, near death dog who was also incredibly beautiful. I had to smile. I was thinking several weeks prior, that someday I’d like to get a red coat golden retriever. I just never expected to get one so soon! The poor dog had matted fur and he smelled bad. Real BAD. We gave him some water which he drank immediately. And then he got sick. But he refused to leave our porch. He liked to lay with his head under the gas grill. He would sit up when we left to go out and he would be there waiting for us when we returned. We were preparing to go out of town for a week and were not sure what to do with this stinky dog especially since we had decided “NO MORE ANIMALS” just days before. Mike called animal control and they agreed to hold onto the dog while we were away. And if his owner did not claim him by the time we returned from our travels, we would have the first refusal.
When we returned from our trip, we were anxious to hear if the dog was still available. Sure enough, Mike drove over to find out and as he pulled into the driveway, we could see the red fluffy head in the back of the truck! The dog was still stinky; and his fur was matted. But I could see in his eyes that he knew he was home. He was so excited that he ran into the house and peed on the dining room wall. We had our work cut out for us. The vet checked him over from head to tail and told us he was going to be a “keeper”. Next we had to give him a name. It took us a while. Nothing quite fit. Eventually we went with the obvious – Red.
Red had a lot to learn. The first time we went to the lake, he followed Lucy as she jumped off the dock. It looked like Red thought he could step onto the water. He went head over heels right to the bottom. It looked like he had never been swimming before. So Mike gave him a little help. Red didn’t like that too much.
Just this summer, he decided he finally wanted to learn to swim – for real. He watched his cousin Zenzi in the water and he followed her into the lake. Even though the water was up to his shoulders, he pretended to swim…much like a child in the bathtub. It looked pretty pathetic.
Red seems to be more comfortable in the colder weather. He enjoys playing ice hockey,
Going for walks:
and was a wonderful supervisor last winter when I was shoveling us out:
He has been a great companion. Always near by and checks in with me frequently. He knows when I am having a rough time and he looks at me with those brown eyes and will sit with his head on my lap. We are preparing him for his good Canine Good Citizens test. When he passes, he will be welcome in the hospital for visits to patients and their families. Just last week the new cancer center opened and so I hope we will be able to visit there.
So many times, we asked Red why he chose to come to our house when he had so many other options. It was such a mystery that he just showed up. But I think we now know the answer to that question. And I am thankful.