She, Laverne and Shirley started the whole thing off. Laverne and Shirley was a dog – possibly one of the most unattractive dogs I have ever seen. I think that she was a terrier mix with a hint of beagle and I’m not sure what else. She sat in a way that suggested she was a low class hooker looking to attract a potential trick.
I was out walking my Irish Setter, Tristan when I saw her in the park across the street from my apartment. It was the dead of winter – and although I tried approaching her to take her home with me, she was more afraid of me than the inclement weather. So I took Tristan home, grabbed some dog treats and went back out to see whether she would come to me.
By that time one of my neighbors who had also spotted her, was in the park trying to accomplish the same rescue mission. It took the two of us an hour before we were able to get her to trust us.
My neighbor, said that I had to adopt her. I wasn’t thrilled with the idea. But after ten minutes of debate in the exceptional cold, I agreed that I would consider it and take her to my vet to get her checked out.
At that point my neighbor, a lady originally from northern Italy said in her still rather thick accent, “We call her Laverne and Shirley because she have such a split personality.”
So Laverne and Shirley and I got in my car headed for my vet’s office. It was an early Saturday morning and they would just have opened by the time I drove the eight miles to get there.
As we went down Stony Island Avenue, I saw a little black ball of fur run across the street about fifty yards ahead of me. I thought to myself, “What the heck – I’ve got one in the front seat – why not throw one in the back?” And so Josh, who turned out to be a one hundred thirty pound Belgian Shepherd/Newfoundland mix came into my life. In the course of an hour I had turned from being a one dog family into one with three of them.
But it didn’t stop there. Over the course of the next three months I found thirty-seven dogs and was boarding them all with my vets. Apparently my neighborhood was a fertile dumping ground for unloading unwanted animals.
Even though my vets were great to me and gave me a discounted rate to board them – I think I put three of their kids through Harvard. But eventually I did find good homes for all of them.
Tristan was already an adult and Josh grew very quickly. Laverne and Shirley began looking like a dwarf at only thirty pounds. It was obvious, when I came home and found that she had eaten a love seat, that she needed a home where she could be spoiled as the only dog. So I found one for her and she lived to be seventeen years old.
I have always had a love affair with dogs, (although the couch episode tested this appreciation to its fullest). Dogs have an amazingly wonderful quality.
There’s no equivocation, no posturing, no subterfuge. If they love you they love you without reservation. I think they have some kind of sense that we humans lack. They seem intuitively to know whom they think are worthy of their affection. And I am honored that most of the dogs I have met seem to accept me warmly.
When I move into the great beyond I am going to have to ask the ones I have been privileged to know and loved about that.
I truly hope that Laverne and Shirley hasn’t been eating too many couches in my absence.