My Life with Angelina

As I carried the near-lifeless body of my Havenese Tess from the car to the vet’s office, I vowed never to get another dog. I can still see her eyes — the only thing working and alive — as we said our goodbyes.

Well, that was a few years ago in a different life. Not only didn’t I want another furry friend, I just plain didn’t have time for one.

Tess was a sweetheart. Actually, she was my wife’s dog, but somehow it was always my lap she found. After Karen died, she was my comfort, her soft silky fur absorbing many of my tears. She loved to travel and often beat me into my little red truck. She was my sidekick during my frequent trips to Maine, Ohio and New Jersey. So, when she died, I wasn’t up to another.

That was then. This is now.

A few weeks ago, I noticed a pup in the shelter’s “Pets in Need” section. Although not a Havenese, Angelina was a shih tzu with the same apricot coloring. Take away her always present tooth, the two dogs could be sisters.

I called right away to be told Angelina had been adopted already, so when I stopped at the shelter for another matter, I thought I would give Dallyn “a hard time” about not letting me know the dog was available. She smiled, told me the adoption fell through and had one of her summer interns bring Angelina to me. Next thing I knew, she was sitting next to me in the car.

To be honest, we didn’t get off to a good start. I let her get used to my house in New York, but she wouldn’t come to me when I called. My daughter even tried the cheese bribe trick. Nothing. Nada. Instead, little Angelina literally backed herself into a corner under the cookbook shelf in the breakfast nook. When I reached for her, she took a chunk {okay not a chunk, but drew blood} out of my thumb and pinkie. I thought for sure our “test night” would be a one-nighter.

I knew she was scared, so I went out to my Jimmy, pulled out my leather gloves and went to get her again. She bit and fought but with the leather barrier I was able to get her out and calm her down by holding her. I haven’t had a minute’s peace since.

Little Angelina follows me around like a lost puppy, although she is about three. She’s not a cuddler, but is rarely more than 10 feet from me. She loves the car. On our trip from New York to Maine, she perched herself on top of the folded down passenger seat and just took in the scenery before curling into a ball with her head on my lap for the duration of the nine hour trip.

The little shih tzu is smart as a whip and learns quickly … when she wants to. We weren’t at the apartment more than two days when I accidentally let her leash go. She bounded away … stopped when I called her … then ran to OUR apartment door and waited.

She’s been good for me. I take her out about four times a day … morning, noon, suppertime and night. She’s not a quick piddler {or pooper} so I usually find myself walking her to the furthest point on the complex. I step counted the trip the other day — about 600 steps each time plus a flight of stairs down and up. That’s 2,400 steps give or take — about a mile or so — and four flights of stairs more than my normal walking routine. And that’s if she doesn’t get sidetracked by the pigeons, bullfrogs or other residents and their dogs. After our walks, I’ll often sit on the bench overlooking the Piscataquis River or take the extra steps to the common patio overlooking the dam. Angie sits right down and enjoys the quiet with me.

She’s a morning dog. In Maine, that’s a problem. First light is in the 4 a.m. range … and I can count on Angelina to let me know she’s awake. I have taught her “No, go back to sleep!” which she has learned. She’ll go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Of course, that’s changed my sleep patterns. I’m now up and about earlier … and ready for bed earlier. It’s a good thing I’m retired.

With the help of my friend Ja, we’ve been working on socialization. When I first got her, Angelina would bark at anything that moved. She now realizes my neighbors are not strangers as she pulls her leash to visit … especially if they have their dogs on lead.

We’re still working on separation anxiety. I’ve gotten her to go into her kennel when I leave for a bit, but as soon as she realizes I’m out of the apartment, she starts yapping. Each day I try to kennel her to get her to realize that’s quiet time. Sometimes it works … more often it doesn’t. But we’ll get there!

I think Angie and I are good for each other. She’s getting some well-needed attention. And I’ve noticed my glucose levels and blood pressure have “normalized”. Part of that is the tranquility of Maine, but I think Angie has contributed.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Not the fruit of experience, but experience itself, is the end.

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
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4 Responses to My Life with Angelina

  1. Reading this set a wonderful tone for the day. Thank you!


  2. I was blessed to read about your new life with Angelina and I am so glad that things are heading in a good direction for you both. Our pets bring such joy (and sometimes challenges) into our lives. I thank God for the blessing of these little creatures !!


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