On the 8th October, I went down to my local RSPCA. I took my friend Tara who is a vet that I work with. She was going to be my voice of reason and stop me from getting carried away ie getting a Great Dane or getting an 8 week old puppy. Spoiler alert… she failed miserably but I’m so happy she did :)
There were a few dogs that I liked the look of but nothing really stood out. I really, really wanted to walk away with a dog. I was going to have five days before heading back to work and that was going to give me enough time to settle the dog in- so in my mind, it had to be that particular day.
We had another walk around the pens and spoke to a volunteer who was making polite conversation. She said that “Jules” was an absolute sweetheart and pointed at a cage that we had passed but assumed was empty. I peered in again and a face with big eyes peeked around the corner of her kennel. It was love at first sight and her tail wagged cautiously.
There were two other dogs that I wanted to have a look at but they are irrelevant to the story. Jules was brought out to a nice open space to say hello but she was absolutely terrified. It was suggested that we should maybe meet her in her pen instead. We all went back inside and I crouched down in the corner and she went and hid behind me. She snuggled into me while peering out from behind me at the other two people in her pen.
It was the fact that she seemed to recognise that I was her human and that I was the one that was there to protect her that sealed the deal. And she had a fluffy beard like a wolfhound which is a breed I would love to have but can’t due to the size.
Tara murmured “You don’t think she’s too big..?” but I was getting carried away and nobody could stop me.
As we signed the paperwork, I had a moment of “WHAT HAVE I DONE?!” but I quickly tamped that down. When we walked her out of the animal shelter, a large guy was walking towards us. The way the dog had an absolute panic at the sight of him confirms to me that she was mistreated.
She continues to be incredibly nervous around people but especially around men. I’m like “Same, girl. Same”. She’s a bit of an introvert and will take herself away from a crowd if she’s had enough. But usually she isn’t found too far from me. And I realise that this is because she has separation anxiety, something I don’t want to encourage, but I secretly love it when we meet a new person and she snuggles into me, like a toddler when forced to meet a new person.
I renamed her Ally and she is unbelievably the wrong dog for me.
She is the most slobbery dog the world has ever seen. Luckily no shoestrings of slobber though. The beard was the thing that drew me to her, the beard is now the thing that I hate. If she’s nervous (which is quite a bit), she pants excessively and the drool collects in her beard. If she drinks water, the excess water collects in her beard and drops all over the floor. If she rests her head on me, there is usually leftover drool on her beard which is transferred to me. I hate it!!
She is a young boisterous big dog. I should probably give her two big walks a day. With my work schedule, I can really only manage one big walk a day. And that makes me feel incredibly guilty. If she was a different dog, I would hire a dog walker but at this stage in her life, that is not an option as she would be absolutely terrified.
I wanted a big(ish) dog because I like to go for runs when it’s early and often dark so I’d like her for, at least the appearance of protection. Realistically, If there is someone coming towards us that she doesn’t like the look of (ie everyone), she cowers and sometimes stops in her tracks.
Her stupid tail really hurts when it wags. Because she always seems to be standing right next to me, I get whipped by her tail. And it really really hurts.
She frustrates me to no end. Like when I come home and she has chewed something to pieces. Or when I took her outside to go to the toilet and she didn't;t do anything but then came inside and did diarrhoea all over my housemate’s white carpet.
In her moments of fear, there is no aggression. I have seen the sweetest animals turn into feral monsters because of fear. There is none of that in my dog- and that makes me really proud of her.
She’s smart. She doesn’t pick up any of the useful commands I try teach her, like ‘come’ and ‘heel’. But she very quickly picked up ‘wave’, which she does with such goofy enjoyment, that I just love to make her do it.
You haven’t witnessed joy until you’ve seen her bound after a toy. Or the lamb-like gambol that she does when we go for runs and she has to make a leap for the sidewalk. Or the way she throws her toys (that she has lovingly nibbled all the stuffing out of) about and then pounces after them. She has the weirdest quirkiest personality and I love getting to watch it shine.
She went and sat in the pool up to her waist by herself… just because.
The way she just oh-so-casually gets up on my bed when she knows good and well that she is only allowed up when she has been invited. And there is no sneaking up when you are nearly 30kg big! I’m like “Dude, I noticed”. And the way she just rests her head on my bed when I wake up, like ‘'oh boy, you’re awake. Hey, do you think I could get up now??” Her tail starts wagging and the look in her eyes, you can totally tell that she’s smiling.
I went to the bathroom, and she was sleeping on her mat on the floor beside my bed. Came back to this lady-like display.
When we’re sitting at the dinner table, she is big enough to nudge your elbow as you hold your knife and fork. Just to remind you that she’s there… waiting… all night if she has to… in case you wanted to give her something a bit extra.
And how good she is with other dogs. She loves bounding around and being goofy and jumping all over every dog and racing around like a loon! And if another dog is grumpy, she just drops and rolls over on her back and goes “whatever, you’re the boss. I’m just here to run around and have fun. Smell ya later”
Ally and her BFF Bandit, Tara’s dog. Dressed up in our work uniform after a big run outside.
So yes, Ally is a pain. But she’s my pain. And in the two months I’ve had her, she has come forward in leaps and bounds. We went to our first obedience class today and she was a STAR!! I know it’s because she wants to please me and make me happy, and you can’t ask for more than that in your dog. I can’t wait to see how she turns out in the years ahead.
To Ally’s previous owners… I don’t know your story, Ally was found as a stray. You never came forward to collect her. Maybe you didn’t care that she was missing, maybe you dumped her, maybe you searched and searched but never found her. Thank you for taking care of my dog while she was a puppy. Thank you for teaching her how to sit and shake paws. I will always be grateful to you for taking care of my best friend for me.