We’ve welcomed a new Fuzzy into our home and she wants to say hello:
She’s a 4-year-old spayed female. Her breeder calls her Afton, after Afton Cooper from the original Dallas series, but our lips &/or brains can’t seem to spit out that name on a consistent basis. We seem to be calling her Ashton more often than not, and she responds very well to Ashton. So…yeah. Probably Ashton.
Although her coat is considered undesirable for breeding or showing, her heart is perfect for loving.
That said, she does have a few behavioral issues, including a quirky little phobia related to persons of the male persuasion. It’s not a constant problem, mind you. Just when the scary two-legged male persons move around without her permission….or cough…or, you know, do man things. Apparently, this troublesome phobia has made it difficult to place her in a permanent, forever home. Until now.
The man of THIS household is decent, kind, patient to the core and infinitely gentle with nervous dogs.
Technically, we only have Afton/Ashton for a trial period right now, but I am in love, love, LOVE with this fuzzy love monkey. Michael is slower to declare his feelings, but I believe he is also hopelessly smitten.
In order to fully explain how over-the-moon thrilled I am by this unexpected turn of events, I’ll have to tell you a star-crossed love story from my past….
Once upon a time (almost 20 years ago), I took a job as a full-time dispatcher for the Cruelty Investigations and Animal Rescue unit in a large, metropolitan humane society. (I LIVED Animal Cops before it was a TV show on Animal Planet). Looking back now, it was one of those “best of times, worst of times” experiences but I’m not going to get into all the nitty gritty details from that period of my life. I just want to tell you about one particular case.
(*cue Dragnet theme music*)
It was a sunny, sweltering hot summer day. I received a call from the Airport Police Department. They had an animal cruelty case involving two dogs in a locked car…only one was responsive. The officers on the scene needed a humane officer to take custody of the dogs and advise on the charges to be filed against the owner. It sounded like an ugly situation, so I radioed the officers on duty to get out there as quickly as possible. They returned to the shelter with a deceased Rottweiler and a sweet little bundle of anxiety who looked a lot like this:
“It’s a Veeezuuuhluuuh,” Officer Manion told me, squinting at his case notes. “V-I-Z-S-L-A. Hungarian hunting breed.” The refugee in question had her whole body pressed against my leg with her head glued to my lap while I entered her information into our intake computer using my right hand. My left hand couldn’t stop stroking her velvety ears and smoothing the worried wrinkles on her brow. Even as her tail thumped the floor, she continued to cast nervous looks back and forth between me and Manion.
“She’s a very sweet doggie,” Manion said, (Hello, Captain Obvious.) “but she’s had a rough day. If you want, keep her here with you for a while before you put her into a kennel for the night.”
One of the best, most wonderful perks of being a humane society dispatcher is getting to bring some of the rescued pets into the back office for some one-on-one time. I couldn’t afford my own dog at the time, so spending time with these temporary companions was important to me. During the few short weeks she was in our custody, I brought the Vizsla into the office as often as I could. (Notice I have not mentioned her name. That’s because I don’t remember it. We were all enchanted with the word Vizsla and she responded when anyone called her Vizsla, so that was the only name we used during her entire stay.)
Everyone warned me not to get attached to her, but I couldn’t help falling deeply in love our darling Vizsla…even though she could never be MY dog.
This is not a tragedy, at least not for the Vizsla. I feel certain that dog lived a long, happy, healthy life. But after she walked out of our shelter, I never saw her again.
Skip ahead a few years to an all-breed dog show where I was watching the final Best in Show contenders file into the ring. Sitting alone on the cold, cement floor, I suddenly became aware of a gentle warming pressure along my back. Turning my head slowly, I came nose-to-nose with a face that looked a little like this:
Her owner/breeder could not stop giggling. “I think she thinks you’re related,” she said. “Your hair…” As she broke into another fit of giggles, I gathered my hair into a side ponytail and draped it over the dog’s head. Back then, I used to color my hair a coppery red that matched the dogs coat. I mean it matched EXACTLY. We sat like that, the Vizsla’s head on my shoulder with my hair falling over her ears while her owner took some pictures and I quizzed her about the personality and temperament of Vizslas.
I walked away from that encounter absolutely convinced that a Vizsla was my dream dog, the perfect companion for me. Energetic, but willing to cuddle for hours. Intelligent and sensitive without being neurotic. Obviously gentle and affectionate. But my lifestyle choices and finances still would not support dog ownership at that time. So it was a dream that I would have to put on hold indefinitely….
[To be continued...]