The horse's pasture to the East...

Sunday, May 8, 2011


When I was a kid, we didn't have a television. My Mom wanted us to be readers and thinkers. (Just between you and me, she was right! TV really does suck the brains right out of your head.) Of course, I thought I was the most deprived little girl on the face of the Earth. On every other house in the neighborhood, there was a TV aerial. If you walked to the top of our block, set on a hill, and turned to look back down the street, it was a forest of aerials one bigger than the other. Except for our house. We lived in the "open meadow", the place where there was no forest.

One of my favorite things to do was to play in the water hose on a hot Saturday afternoon, then go inside one of my friend's houses for cookies and one of those little six ounce cokes in an ice cold bottle. We'd sit down in front of the fan (no one had air conditioning...oh, the horror!) and watch a Saturday afternoon movie on channel 4.

The movies were, every single one, from the thirties and forties. One of my favorites was a movie made right in the thick of things, 1943 I think, titled "Mrs. Miniver" starring Greer Garson. She was beautiful, elegant, brave and the perfect Mother. I always thought of her as the eye in the center of the storm, where the sky clears and the colors are brighter. Since there were only so many movies formatted for TV, it was on fairly often. I loved all the characters, especially the train conductor who named his prize rose after her...the Mrs. Miniver. And when her son would fly over their house and cut the engines so she would know he was safe, I always cried. I wanted to be just like Mrs. Miniver when I grew up!

I never did achieve my goal of being like Mrs. Miniver. I was like most of the Mom's I know...disorganized, worried, tired, proud, happy and worried one more time. Most of the time I wore blue jeans smeared in paint and my hair in a braid or a barret. But I did make a heck of a chocolate chip cookie and I know I loved my sons WAY more than any fictional character ever could have. I never gave up on the idea of Mrs. Miniver though. Today, I came close to achieving my goal by bringing her home to live with us!

That's Mrs. Miniver in the front seat of my truck and Joe (Crazy Joe Cocker) in the back seat. We adopted Mrs. Miniver from the Humane Society in Lawrence. We couldn't really afford to adopt the horse that I wanted so we brought home a 1/2 St. Bernard and a 1/2 Golden Retriever. She's big enough we ALMOST have our "horse"! (And after the healthy deposits she left out in the yard today, it's probably a good thing we already have a poop rake too!)

I met her a week ago. I woke up after having a dream about Gypsy, early on Saturday morning. In the dream Gypsy and my Golden Retriever Lightfoot walked into the bedroom and up to my side of the bed. Both of them stood there next to each other, tails wagging back and forth in unison. They rested theirs heads next to my pillow and smiled at me, waiting for me to pet them. I reached out and rubbed them, one at a time, in their favorite itchy places while they licked me in the face. I can even remember the smell of their breath on me. When I woke up I was crying and laughing. It was like I'd been told it was time. There was someone waiting for me. All I had to do was go find her and bring her home. That was the day I spent more than five hours, meeting one dog after another at the Humane Society.

I was completely impressed with how clean and well run the Humane Society is in Lawrence. If I were someone doing a consumers review, I would give them a 10 out of 10 rating. They were very patient, kind and willing to show me around. The whole place was spit spot and ship shape. It's surrounded by all of these big, fenced in yards for people to take the dogs to so they can be off lead and run around. And there has to be someone who does nothing but clean up the grounds too. No poop anywhere. Blew me away! Everyone there was very nice, very professional and obviously devoted to finding homes for all of the dogs and cats housed there. I was so impressed with the way the place is run that I'm going back for volunteer training. I'd like to be one of the walkers and/or holders (for the cats). If you're looking for a dog to add to your household, I cannot say enough good things about the way the Humane Society in Lawrence is being managed. And there are all kinds of dogs and cats there too. It's definitely worth the time to go out there and look around!

Mini (I know. Can you believe I'm calling the largest dog I've ever had Mini! I crack myself up!) was the last dog I took out. We'd walked into the second building and back into the kennel area where nearly every kennel was full. The noise was deafening! There were big dogs, little dogs, young dogs, old dogs and nearly every single one of them was barking for attention...except for Mrs. Miniver. She was sitting at the front of her kennel, tail wagging and a smile on her face. When I leaned down to look at her (didn't have to go too far to do that either), she very politely held her paw up, cocked her head to the side and said "I think we should meet!" Not a bark out of her, not once during all the times I went back to see her last week and not since we've come home.

The young woman helping me took the leash and hooked it onto Mrs. Miniver's collar (her name there at the Humane Society was Olive) and out we walked, into the fresh air and sunshine, across the parking lot with cars coming and going, dogs and people everywhere, doors slamming, engines starting, people talking and laughing and not once did she pull on the lead, try to go ahead of us, barge into anyone's space or bark. When we got to the large fenced yard, I asked how long it had been since she was outside. J said that she hadn't been out since she was brought in more than five weeks ago! I thought "Uh oh. This dog is going to come out of her skin with excitement when we take her off lead."

Nope. Never happened. She was just as polite and calm outside as she was inside. She wanted to stay with us too. And then it happened. She choose me over J, came to me and sat on my foot, leaning into my leg and rested her head there with a sigh. As far as she was concerned, she was home. Every dog I've ever taken home with me has done just that...leaned on me and sat on my foot.

But none of them has ever rested her head on me like that. It wasn't her begging for attention. It was her saying " I choose you. I'm ready to go home now." And that was that.

I went back to see her several times this week while all of the processes were finalized so we could take her home with us. There she was, every time, waiting at the door to her kennel with her tail wagging and her paw lifted, head cocked to the side with a smile on her face. And when we went in to pick her up this afternoon, it was the same again. She knew where she was going and was ready.

We took Joe in with us for a dog meet first. But that was as easy as everything else. They smelled all the things dogs smell to identify each other, jumped into the truck and off we went towards home. It was like they knew each other... like we'd gone on rides together for years! Some things defy explanation, and this was one of those times.

When she met Newman, she was very gentle. He was interested but, even in his final days and as frail as he is, still aloof as is his wild nature. The horses were interesting, but their poop was the star attraction. Willow took one look at her, the first time she's looked a dog directly in the eye since they're nearly the same height, and pretty much made it clear " My side of the fence is mine. No dogs in my paddock. We'll be just fine as long as you remember that." Mini looked at me for conformation of that, so I let her know that I had agreed to Willow's territorial rights long ago.

Lucky and Apache were amazed by her and their reactions were exactly the way I thought they would be. Mini leaned on me, uninterested in touching noses with horses. Lucky hid behind Apache, ready to let him get hurt first if Mini turned out to be related to a Saber Tooth Tiger. And Apache leaned way over the gate, trying to put his nose on Mini. Classic!

Our first day home is done now. Joe is asleep on the floor to one side of the desk, Newman is under the work table and Mini is laying here with her head resting on my feet. The room is redolent with the smells that dogs make in their sleep. I'm sure I don't remember any scenes like that in "Mrs. Miniver", but it's as close a second as I'm ever going to come to.

My sons both called me today, and they sent the perfect gifts, gooey chocolates and a gift certificate for LL Beans, my favorite place to buy my work clothes. The weather has been windy and warm, the frogs are singing and the stars are out. It just doesn't get any better than that!

My dog is home, here with us in OZ, living in the dream time.

I am ever yours, Nancy, smiling at you REALLY big time!


Judi said...

How lovely, Nancy. She is one lucky dog (literally & figuratively)and I think you are very lucky, too. Love to all. Judi & Cami

Nancy, smiling! said...

Hi Judi! It's been interesting today, watching her begin to relax and show me her real dog-anality.

She's been pretty needy. But she's also been more open with us and has even offered to play a bit. The meeting between her and Willow was really funny too. Willow didn't know how to react to her since they were looking each other in the eye...a first for Willow as far as dogs go.

I'm glad you stopped by to read about her! Love back at you! Nancy and her hairy clan, smiling

Ron Schorr said...

Very nice!