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I had to euthanize my beautiful German Shepherd, Buddy on July 27th. If a person can have a soul mate, that is a dog, mine would have been my Rottweiler, Mike, who I had to have euthanized last Oct. Buddy helped me grieve the loss of Mike, but even today when I think of them, I tear up.
I believe I get so close to my pets because the family I grew up with abandoned me, at 13, when I told. I finally turned my back on them, forever, about 16 years ago, when I was 30. A dog needs you, loves you, depends on you, and in my case, would do anything, in their power to make me happy. I have lost several pets over the years, and I have loved, and been loved, truely. When Buddy died, I felt the loss of Mike, again, and in an intense way. My husband goes to work around 5:00, in the morning, and I talk to my pets, while I putter around the house, and get myself ready for work. With Buddy gone, it was too quiet. I still talked to my cat... Love kitties too, but they just don't interact with you the same way a dog does.
The weekend after the 4th of July, events situated themselves in a way, and I talked my husband into driving down to Kanab, Utah (about 6 hours away) to Best Friends animal sanctuary.... Dog town, if you have ever seen the TV series on National Geographic channel. (they have cats, birds, horses, goats, and wild animals they are rehabilitating, as well as about 500 dogs). If you are a dog lover, you can watch episodes on Netflix... Be ready to cry, every episode, but it is a good cry. They take abused, and neglected animals, give them a safe, sanitary, and fun place to live, and try and rehabilitate them to the point they are adoptable. (They are the people who took in 22 of Michael Vick's abused dogs, forced into fighting, and have successfully placed several in forever homes) You can look them up, on line, and see all the adoptable dogs, pictures, and profiles. The place is amazing. They have around 200 adoptable dogs.
Before we went, I was able to narrow down my choices to around a dozen dogs... Had to be good with cats... I wanted a young, physically healthy dog, who could go hiking with me... I wanted a medium size, one that I could carry on my shoulders, if I needed to. Mike and Buddy both weighed over 100 lbs.
The first dog they brought out was a Catahoula Leopard... I had never even heard of the breed. He was a very beautifully spotted dog, in black, grey, white, and brown... And VERY shy. He had been the victim of a puppy mill, hoarder situation in Arkansas. He was excellent with other dogs, but terrified of people. He wouldn't even let us touch him. His name was Tuttle. They brought out another shy dog, a boxer, named Rango, and we took them for a walk. Tuttle did better when another dog was around, and Rango was also afraid of us... He had been at the sanctuary his whole life, was abandoned, with his brother at a few months of age. His brother had been adopted a few months prior, and Rango was still missing him.
The walk went pretty well. I knew both these dogs, needed a family to love them, and I had a lot of love to give. The lady over adoptions, Kristi Littrell, asked us if we wanted to see our next choices. I really wanted a confident dog, but I knew both these dogs needed someone, and I was already having a hard time choosing, wich of these two, I liked the best. (My husband made me promise that I wouldn't try and adopt more than one, before he agreed to go.) Neither dog would interact with us well. Doug took Rango... To feed and spend some time with, and I took Tuttle. Tuttle layed on his bed, facing away from me. The trainer, Cathy, gave me his food and I started feeding him by hand. After taking some of his food, he did allow me to pet him, but I could tell he was still very afraid. When Doug, and I, met back on a bench outside, and I realized he really wouldn't consent to adopting both dogs, I decided to take Tuttle for a sleep over. They allow you to take a dog, back to your cabin, and bring them back in the morning.
Tuttle did warm up to us a little, and I decided to adopt him. I had asked the trainers, if they thought we could help him be more confident, and if he would be capable of bonding with us... he did wag his tail at his trainer, and the other people he knew from Best Friends. It was a bit of a leap of faith. He would walk as far away, as his leash would allow, from us. The name Tuttle, didn't seem to fit him, and as we were interacting with him, we would call him Rango, by mistake.... Still thinking about the boxer... But that name seemed to fit him, and he responded to it.
After a few days, Rango would wag his tail, when he saw us... It took a couple of weeks, before he would walk up to us in greeting. Rango goes on two walks a day... His favorite, he loves to go on walks. Three days a week, we walk with one of my neighbors, and her dog. It took a few weeks, but now he greets them and wants attention from her too. Two months, and he already is doing so much better. We kiss him all the time, and when he snuggles, he doesn't give dog kisses, but he rubs his lips, on our cheeks, and ears... I think he is kissing us the way we kiss him... It is so cute. He is a love bug, and wants hugs and kisses all the time. It is like he was so isolated, within himself, and now that he has gotten a home, with two people, who love him dearly... He has really filled the places left empty, by the loss of our other dogs.
He still tries to bolt, when we see other people, on our walks.... But he is doing better with that too. Today, he got excited when he saw another neighbor, with her dog. We have stopped, and talked with her a few times, over the past couple of weeks, Rango straining to get as far away as possible... Rango greeted her dog, and even slowly inched forward and sniffed the ladies hand. His world, is starting to expand, and he is starting to investigate people a little more. Maybe he can teach me something.
About Stacey Lannert
Stacey is free. In January 2009, Missouri Governor Matt Blunt commuted her sentence of life without parole. She is currently speaking out about sexual abuse and sharing her message of love, healing and forgiveness.