In a one-year memorial marking the loss of my dog companion Yeager, all articles running from June 1 through June 3 will reflect that subject, including the last two of three dogs I recently foster-cared from the same rescue shelter where I met Yeager. The first such article in the series on foster-care dogs, “A Dog on the Verge of Loss: Fostercare Weimaraner #1, Paddington,” was published May 9, 2012. Here is the link to that story, http://carlanthonyonline.com/2012/05/09/a-dog-on-the-verge-of-loss-fostercare-weimaraner-1-paddinginton/
You want to know the poster-dog of fun?
The boy with bliss in every bark?
A Weimaraner who literally smiles, yes smiles?
Well, that’s Weimy, the second Friends for Pets (FFP) Weimaraner I had the privilege of foster-caring, this time for several weeks, in November and December.
With her acute intuition for matching the personalities and evolving needs of people and adoptable Weimaraners, FFP’s Diane Monahan had a specific friend in mind when I returned Fostercare Weimaraner #1, Paddington. “He’s one of my favorites around here, always happy for everything and for nothing,” she told me, with the caveat of a curious warning: “When he bares his teeth at you, don’t worry – he’s smiling.”
Weimy jumped into the car and seemed to bark in unison my very own philosophy about it all: Let’s Get Going.
First, there was a rigorous but brief hike. When I’ve foster-cared a dog, while I have an instinct to allow them to run a bit with the freedom they’ve so long lived without – I never do. The truth is, you never know what a dog will do or how they’ll react to a bird or squirrel, let alone another dog or cat. When I clasped his collar in the park, Weimy leapt up happily, perhaps thinking I was about to unlatch him from the leash – but I wasn’t. He sat a moment, pondering this a moment. And then – he leapt again, still happy just to be out for a walk.
He, like all the dogs I’ve shared my life with, be they permanent or foster-care, slept with me. When I stirred, however, Weimy simply got up and found himself a place in the living room. One day it was on the big old blue Yeager Memorial chaise lounge, another time it was on the hard brown sofa, the next time it was on the soft brown leather sofa. When I got up in the morning, he poked his head into my room. What’s going on? Can I be involved? he seemed to ask. Once I had to head out to the dentist. And he was fine with that after his morning walk and feeding. He sat, looked up at me – and showed all his teeth, beaming a grimace sort of smile. Once (many more often times than once) it was his feeding, and then a long, long walk to Larchmont Boulevard so I could get coffee. Every time we got to a corner, this 1o-year old sat politely, then raised his right hand and held out his paw as if to take an oath – of friendship. That led to a fair trade. Once we got to a place where there was two endlessly long stretches of sidewalk and never once a person on them, we busted out into a good, long race. At ten years old, or seventy in dog-to-human conversion years, or thereabouts, Weimy always outran. In fact, it was really hard to believe he was 10 years old. The same feeling pervaded once we got to Larchmont where a lot of the hail-fellows-well-met who remembered Yeager were all too eager to meet this new chum of mine.
And Weimy made friends fast, lifting his right paw and holding it out, and offering them each a brief, toothy smile. Even Liz, the woman who works at Chevalier’s Bookstore, which still keeps dog biscuits under the counter to give out to visiting dogs as they did in the days of Yeager, took to Weimy. In fact, never known for a love of dogs, she went head over heels for Weimy. I began getting the lifted brows and silent smiles suggesting that maybe Weimy would be more permanent than a foster-care. And I turned it over, time and again, as a possibility. In my gut, of course, I knew that the circumstances weren’t in place for me to make the sort of commitment I feel compelled to make when I assume the care and responsibility of another living being, to the end and regardless of ensuing circumstances.
Weimy himself perhaps sensed this, never proving territorial or barking much when other dogs passed the house. He seemed simply happy to be existing – be it in a shelter as an “old” dog, in a home as a foster-care, in a bookstore gathering biscuits, or making friends from the coffee-shop fellows sitting outside.
And therein, I realized afterwards, was the brief but no less important lesson granted by Mr. Weimy. It’s not so much our circumstances, regarding home, companions or age, that matter, its how persistently we are capable of responding to everything by choosing to simply be happy being alive.
I felt less of a degree of worry when I returned Weimy to FFP than I had when doing so with Paddington. It was just before the holidays and I was going back East for Christmas, having not done for several years because I knew I couldn’t leave Yeager for long, even with others caring for him. Weimy was just as curious going back to the shelter as he had been leaving it several weeks before. When we posed for a picture on the sidewalk just before I dropped him off, Weimy offered one more handshake and smile, but he left me with a lot more.
A smiling dog may not be really bearing his teeth in aggression but, in fact, just smiling.
(Postscript: As for those dogs deemed “unadoptable” due to special needs or their numerical age, word came shortly after our time together, that Weimy had been adopted by a wonderful family which included another dog and some little girls. As they dress him in hats, Weimy keeps smiling.)
- A Dog on the Verge of Loss: Fostercare Weimaraner #1 Paddinginton (carlanthonyonline.com)
- Maybe a new doggy or two (seeknuance.com)
- Metropolitan Diary – Celebrity Weimaraner and Other Reader Tales (nytimes.com)
- My Dog, My Self (psychologytoday.com)
- Dog Park (kristy209.wordpress.com)
- Sorry, He Looked Just Like Kibble (cuteoverload.com)
- Introducing Sherlock (juliasartmark.blogspot.com)