I have two dogs. Two dachshunds, wiener dogs, doxies. One has long red hair, he’s Rusty. We got him when he was just months old and my daughter was around 5. He’s been through a lot with us. For years all my daughter could talk about was getting another dog. I was going through a miserable divorce, my grandma had a stroke and I became her power of attorney, I was a grad student, and I was a single parent to two kids – one in middle school and the other in elementary school. So the answer was always and forever, “no”.
After much in my life had calmed, she asked again. This time she’d been scouring the internet at petfinder.com and came across several doxies that had been part of a hoarding situation and up for adoption at the local animal shelter. This time I had a little money (because I knew if I went there, we’d be coming home with a new dog). This time I said yes. So we made our way to the neighboring county’s animal shelter and met our little Oli. We’ve had him for 7 years now.
Oli has been badly hurt emotionally and physically. We may never know what happened to him but we do know he had many burns on his body when he was rescued. The people at the shelter think they came from the propane heater. He almost died from septic shock. He was neglected and craves constant attention. I think the dogs had to scavenge for food. Oli will constantly eat, to the point of making himself sick. He knocked over a rather tall garbage can to clean a ham bone and eat whatever else he could find when he first came to live with us. He’s a gulper and will choke himself on his own food. We got him the dog gulp dish.
Anyways, since my daughter went to college, it is just me and my dogs. They both want to be close to me all the time. Rusty is fine being in my proximity, Oli has to be right on top of me at all times. We suspect that Oli is the same age as Rusty within a year. However, he is much more spry than Rusty.
Rusty is starting to slow down. He’s going deaf. Sometimes I look at his eyes and they look foggy. A recent trip to the vet confirmed he has a touch of glaucoma – not how the vet put it, I added “a touch”. He gets tired much quicker and sleeps all day. His playfulness is diminishing. Rusty follows me around almost wherever I go in the house. He is needing a little more help here and there. I worry about coming home and finding him dead.
Anyways, since it’s just me and the dogs, we hang out a lot. They like it when I sing and dance for them. But as soon as I sit down they want to be right there. Oli will budge Rusty away from me when I show him attention. And Rusty just moves to the blanket at the end of the couch. He’s like that. Rusty is no attention hog; he’s not particularly needy. Oli is. Somehow, Rusty knows that Oli needs more attention. Dogs are like that.
Rusty always knows when the kid or I are sick. He sticks close to us when we feel under the weather or when we’re sad. He’s a love bug and I love him for that. He always asks before he showers you with licks (consent is so simple even a dog can do it). Oli on the other hand is always violating personal boundaries.
I don’t know how much time either of them have and am always worried about them during the day when I’m at work or when I’m away on travel. They can be so naughty and it’s usually Oli who sets it off as Rusty doesn’t hear too well. One will take off one direction barking at grass waving in the wind, the neighbor puttering around his own yard, or someone walking by; the other will take off another direction. Just when you get them both to stop, it starts off again. Perhaps the gift of Rusty aging so rapidly is that he’s not so eager to run out of the yard, he stays out pretty well. Oli is the ever curious little dog and while everything scares him, he still likes to explore smells and sounds just beyond the perimeter of the yard.
Once these guys are gone, I don’t think I’ll replace them right away. I want to be able to travel without the worry of finding a dog sitter or worrying about them and their tender little bellies (I often come home to Rusty who hasn’t eaten regular, has a bit of diarrhea, and is vomiting – that’s fun). While they are here, I just want to give them the best lives I can. And I have to say, it’s hard to hold on to a bad day when you come home and have two dogs so happy and excited to see you that they are barking, jumping, nibbling, and just generally ecstatic you’re home.