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Terri Mudd: Little bundle of fur has enriched our lives

For years, I managed to ignore dog shows, cute puppies, sad-eyed old dogs, pretty dogs and ugly dogs. None of the canine breed had meaning for me.

Eventually my daughter, who lived a comfortable 600 miles away, got a lovely black Labrador. I came to terms with the critter. I’d pet him if he walked up to me and give me a woeful glance. Then, another daughter married a man with a dog. She soon acquired a second dog. Now, when that family visited, we had to batten down the hatches, keep the carpet cleaner’s phone number on hand and lock our shoes out of sight.

I was not even tempted to join the club. I’d raised six kids. Why think “dog”?

But the day came. I lost my husband about three years ago. Even though my daughter and grandson came to live with me, my days were lonely. My sense of aloneness grew. Then one day last summer our village opened one of its many summer festivals. It was a lovely day and the occasion brought many organizations and businesses to town to celebrate. Not the least of these was Hearts of Niagara, a group that rescues dogs from undesirable circumstances or sudden death. Members were spread out on the church lawn, with several of their prized specimens on hand. We walked up to see.

I’m not sure what we expected, but a tiny ball of very white fur found its way into my arms, and settled there. I petted her and she looked up at me. I don’t think she really said anything, but I heard, “I’m yours. Take me home.” Fearing the emotions stirred by this little creature, I handed her to my grandson. Then I heard the fatal words, “Mom, Mom, can we get her?” My daughter, who runs our home with a firm hand, took the dog from Chris. I’m not sure what transpired then, but the next thing I remember is turning over a credit card, and receiving a small item in return that indicated we could pick her up in a week from the vet’s office.

We did just that, after we’d provided the house with needed accessories, dog food, dog dishes, little white paper squares (we were told they were for training purposes) and doggie toys. Finally we brought her home.

The rescue people named her Dory, because she followed her foster family around quietly, but persistently, like the fish in “Finding Nemo.” We kept the name because we wanted her adoption to be as trauma-free for her as possible. She had been a breeder, and lived in a cage for four years with a minimum of human contact.

This was the beginning of a total takeover of our home, our hearts and our lives. She is quiet, as promised on that first contact, although she’s learned to bark purposely – when she wants in or out, or if she determines that her turf has been invaded or danger lurks. She accepts affection, was toilet trained almost without our noticing (we weren’t experienced, but we did appreciate that she made our job easy in that area). She loves to go for a walk or a romp in the park or a ride. She gets along with her cousin dogs.

We haven’t found how to teach her to play yet, but we keep trying to offer her entertainment. Right now she’s saying, “Just a walk, or a romp in the park, please.” But we will keep dangling funny stuffed critters in front of her, hoping she will respond in some way other than turning her elegant little nose up at our juvenile antics.

Most of all, we’ve found our hearts have grown so much bigger, and all because of a 7-pound bundle of fur that adopted us.