A Dog’s Day Part Four

*Whew!* – if you read the last installment, you know we had quite the decision to make.  If you skipped it, to catch you up – the dogs killed one of our cats and now we have to determine – what to do with Eli the rez dog.

So many things go through your mind.  No shelter could help us.  Taking him back to the rez to die was out of the question.  Kill him?  Oooofaaaa…………I’m sure you can imagine the heated discussions that occurred during this time.  We felt very isolated and alone.  Friends said, KILL HIM.  Shelters said, sorry you are on your own.  The family couldn’t believe we brought ANOTHER dog home.

The biggest issue was with our daughter.  How did she REALLY feel about this dog?  About what happened to her cat?  What was really going through HER mind?  We had many talks.  She didn’t want to keep the dog but she didn’t want to kill him either.  I  understood.  I felt the same way.

Somewhere in between his first walk and Ivy’s death, I fell in love with that dog.  He had such a gentle spirit.  His eyes were deep and his way of being is THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE of what had happened.  I could not wrap my mind around it.  How can you kill this dog who lived for 2 years alone, as a wild animal over killing a cat WE SHOULD HAVE KNOWN to protect?  How can you just “make it all go away?”

Life lesson for all of us.  You can’t.  It doesn’t go away.  It literally is staring you in the face.  With beautiful sad brown eyes.  I swear some days he was apologizing for what he was…..a hunter….a killer.  But it’s instinctual.  And, he had help; it wasn’t as if he was the only dog standing over the body.  He wasn’t.  Three out of four did it.  We weren’t there.  We didn’t see it happen.  So we wait.  Because when there is a life at stake, you want to be sure of your decision.

Our daughter understood that no shelter was going to help us.  I posted on Facebook and Craig’s List to give him away.  We had one bite from a student at the high school, they just needed to move…I haven’t heard from him since that day.  It was nice though, to think that someone might keep him safe.

Days went on.  Eli continued doing his thing.  Looking amazed at the smallest comforts.  Toys, food, cookies…..were truly amazing things to him.  He and Max (the other rez dog) were growing closer.  They wrestled in the back yard daily.  And Eli was always the submissive one.  There wasn’t any sound coming from either of them.  The play was play.  There was no roughness.  Just two dogs having a grand old time.

Nala, our mother dog, took care of him as we went through a yeast infection with Eli.  He was covered with yeast from head to toe.  He was losing his hair and itching ALL THE TIME.

Walks were getting more fun for him as he relaxed.  He would not walk on a leash but would freeze up stiff as a board when the leash went on. However, he didn’t flinch when we walked by him and his confidence grew as he passed us.  He didn’t fear getting hit any longer.  It was good to see he came around so quickly.

There was one walk, in particular, I will never forget.  We were hiking on what we call the fire trail and on the way back he hid behind a tree and just stared at us.  I told Dave I thought he was deciding whether or not to stay with us.  He loved his freedom when he was out walking with us.  He hadn’t taken off but he looked as though he might.  We kept walking and he stayed behind that tree.  He heard or smelled something and took off into the woods.

We waited and then walked up to the trail.  No sign of him.  Our other dogs were with us and we waited.  We discussed the reality of him being a wild dog.  We had given him a collar and tags.  But if he wanted to be free, he should be free.  He would make it longer on the mountain than on the reservation.  He could find water and food.  But it was breaking my heart.  We waited for a half hour.  Calling every once in a while.  Just waiting.  We were about to give up.

We were gathering our dogs up and putting leashes on them when you wouldn’t believe it, he comes out from the woods smiling.  Max ran to him and they licked each other.  He walked right up to Dave.  Dave put a leash on him and he walked next to Dave as if he was the proudest dog.  I believe he decided at that moment, on that day to become part of the pack and the family.  Since that day he doesn’t take off except to chase deer and rodents.  He comes right back and beats us back to the truck, he loves his water and snacks, and he listens and comes when he is called.  You would never know he was a wild dog if you met him today.

The answer.  He’s part of the pack.  He is part of our family.

We do have another cat, Dolly.  We have a dog door so we split the time with dogs and the cat.  She lives separated from Eli.  The three other dogs sleep with us in our room and Eli has to stay in the living room so that he does not attack Dolly.  It’s working.

It’s our rez dog story.  I love that darned dog.  I love all of our dogs.  I’m sorry for Ms. Ivy.  I wish I had been A LOT smarter.  🙁

Life isn’t easy.  Life and death decisions come at us and it’s never easy.  I’m really glad that we didn’t jump at our first response.  He’s special.  He is so appreciative and so loving.  He is a good dog.

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