This is the story about my hundred pound puppy, Dude. I rescued Dude from the pound last January. I had lost my sweet Nikki, a ten year old Lab/Chow mix the previous October and was still mourning her loss. Then on a Friday afternoon in January, I swear my dog Nikki told me to make a trip to the pound.
I looked at the twenty-four dogs offered for adoption. They were all mature, older dogs, not what I was looking for. I was sure Nikki sent me to rescue a puppy. I started to leave and a man came out of the back building and walked up to me. Hmm! I decided to ask if they had any puppies. He told me no, none available for adoption. Then he asked what kind of puppy I was looking for. A big one, I explained.
I told him about losing Nikki following two and a half years of diabetes, then kidney failure and uncontrolled seizures. Nikki had been on Vetsulin, twice a day for two and a half years. The last year she was totally blind, but had no problems getting wherever she wanted to go. Nik was a happy dog right up to the very last day. The kidney failure came on over her last few months and the seizures only in her last few days. She was able to recover from her first grand mal seizure, but a week later she seized again and it couldn't be stopped. I took Nik to the vet's and was with her to the last moment of her life. That was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.
Just the previous year in November, I'd lost Maggie, my ten and a half year old Lab/Chow. Maggie had been with me since she was ten weeks old and I had a really rough time dealing with her loss from Hemolytic Anemia, a type of blood cancer. She was doing fine one day, sick the next and passed away seventeen days later. It's very difficult recovering from such a sudden loss of a very dear companion and family member.
So as I talked to this man at the pound, I explained all this. I only had one of my three dogs left, Shani, an eighty-five pound, fluffy, Collie/Chow mix. Yes, I love Chow mixes as they tend to have wonderful temperaments and are very sweet and lovable. I wanted a puppy who would be a companion to Shani and I. We were both still mourning the loss of Maggie and Nikki.
The man at the pound thought for a minute and then said that he had my puppy, who had been brought into the pound just a half hour before. He said the pup was around four months old and nineteen pounds, that an elderly woman brought him in (to be euthanized) because she couldn't afford to feed him. He was just too big. So this man took me into a back area and showed me the pup.
The puppy took one look at me and started wagging his tail which wagged his whole body. The man said the elderly woman thought the pup was a Lab/Burmese Mountain Dog mix and he asked if I wanted the puppy. Well, of course. So he went to talk to his supervisor. While the pup and I were communicating through the chain link gate, the puppy slid his front white paws under the gate so we could meet properly. I was sold. There was no way I'd leave that puppy in the pound facing an uncertain fate. The life or death decision was to be made that night.
When the man came back, he took the pup out of the pen so I could hold him, which was quite a fete with a wriggling bundle of fur, nineteen pounds in size. The man said that if I wanted the puppy I'd have to adopt him right then, because the shelter was closing in thirty minutes and the pup might not be there the next day.
I went to the front desk and paid the $76 adoption fee. I was told the puppy would be neutered the next morning and I could pick him up in the afternoon.
I went home and didn't say a word to my husband, Ben, who had decided we weren't getting any more dogs. Hmm! What did he know? The next afternoon, Saturday, as I was heading out the door, I told Ben about the puppy and he wasn't too happy. Too bad, I was getting him anyway.
At the pound I took custody of my new puppy. He didn't have a name, the elderly woman hadn't told them what name, if any, that she'd given the puppy. This pup was a wiggly, golden bundle of fur with four white feet, a white chest, and floppy ears. All the way home I tried to pick out a name and then decided I'd leave that up to Ben.
As I walked in our front door carrying the wiggling puppy in my arms, Ben said that was the biggest puppy he'd ever seen. Shani, on the other hand, took one look at the puppy and decided she didn't want him in her house.
I went into the back yard and we walked around. Shani ventured out and decided to get a closer look. The puppy was excited to have a new Mama Dog, but Shani wasn't sure she wanted that role.
Ben stood on the patio and looked skeptical. He knew there was no way he'd get me to take this puppy back. So he gave him a name, Dude, and the name stuck. First off, we discovered that Dude liked to retrieve tennis balls and chase and retrieve a Frisbee. He also had a penchant for my flower pots on the patio. He'd empty out the flowers and potting soil and then roll around on the grass with the pot. He'd also toss the pots around (never broke any) and carry them with him everywhere. Well, I'd never seen a puppy or a full grown dog who loved pots. We also discovered that Dude didn't bark, he "ah-rooooooed" instead. And boy was he a talker. He would "roo-roo" and "ah-roo-rah" and had quite a vocabulary of sounds. Well, I love talking dogs. Nikki had been a talking dog too.
A couple days later I took Dude to the vet and was told that the puppy wasn't quite three months old, instead of four months. That meant he was going to get really big, eighty to one hundred pounds. Oh well! Like I said, I love big dogs. The vet also said he didn't see any Burmese Mountain Dog in Dude, but thought he was some kind of retriever mix. When we came back home, Ben pointed out that it would take a lot of food to feed this pup. Well, we'd just buy giant bags of puppy food, the kind for large puppies.
For all the months since January, Dude has been a wonderful, enjoyable, goofy, wiggly, lovable bundle of fur. Now we couldn't ever imagine him not being in our lives. Shani reluctantly decided to be his Mama Dog and the two are now inseparable.
Dude hit the hundred pound mark at around nine months of age. Now, at ten and a half months, he's well over one hundred pounds. I need to take him to Pet Smart to get weighed, as Pet Smart is closer than the vet's office, which is twenty miles away.
Dude carries a tennis ball in and out of the house. He even sleeps with one. He still loves Frisbees, but he ate the last one (spit out most of the pieces). So he doesn't have a Frisbee right now. Most of the new tennis balls I've given him, he's buried in the backyard. The one he carries around is an old tennis ball that used to belong to Maggie. Maybe he knows that Maggie left it for him?
Dude outgrew his love of my flower pots and now leaves them alone. He gathers sticks and leaves and brings them inside the house and puts them on his bed. He goes outside after dark and chases tiny frogs and moths. However, he always wants a bodyguard/escort when he goes outside. That's because a few months back a Mockingbird thunked him on the top of his head and then some bats chased him. Dude has a long memory and wants Ben or I to go out with him to chase off the birds or bats. Hopefully he'll outgrow that. After all, he's a giant puppy and should be able to take care of himself.
Surprisingly, Dude is now red in color instead of gold. He has a beautiful coat and a long, powerful, fringed tail that he wags like a fan. We think he's probably a mix of Golden Retriever, Irish Setter and Rhodesian Ridge Back Hound. His fur rises in a ridge whenever he get scared and he "roos." Both are traits of Rhodesian Ridge Backs. He has webbed feet which means he's some kind of retriever. His coloring is definitely Irish Setter and he has the height of an Irish Setter, but he's more solid like a Lab or Retriever. He requires lots of ear and belly rubs. He's a really sweet puppy dog who loves everyone, including our three grand kids, our neighbors and everyone at the vet's office.
Our grandson asked not long ago if Dude bites. I assured him, no. "But Nana," he said. "Are you sure about those teeth?" Yep, Dude has really big teeth.
You'll be hearing lots more Dude and Shani stories, plus a lot of pictures.