All right, so where was I? When last we left my story about Husbands, Wives and the Pets They Divorce Over, I had just brought home Rusty, the impossibly tall shepherd/giraffe mix who loved me to distraction.
Remember, now, he was a foster dog only, on leave from his stay at a no-kill shelter due to a leg injury and the fact that the other big doggies were being unkind to him.
So, even though my husband had requested (picture a 5-foot 11-inch male walking toward me on his knees with his hands in prayer position) that I wait one year after the passing of my beloved collie girl before I grace our home with another canine, I figured a foster dog in need would be okay.
I introduced my husband to Rusty.
“What is that?” he asked.
“It’s Rusty. He’s sweet and injured and in need.”
“Where is he injured?”
“His left front leg.”
“He’s not limping.”
“I know. He masks his pain.”
My husband invoked the name of the Lord several times.
“How is Rusty with cats?” Tim asked, though, honestly, I have no idea how he got any sound out with his jaw so tight.
I recalled what the gal at the shelter had told me: Dunno.
“Honey, look at him,” I said. “You can tell he’s a gentle being. A gentlemanly dog. He’s innately calm. And our cat is used to dogs. Besides, he’s injured. He’ll be resting a lot.”
“He doesn’t look injured.”
“That’s because he—“
Tim waved his arms, and I took this as a signal to quit while I was ahead.
So. Rusty and cats. Well, we’ll never know for sure how he would have behaved as our cat took one look—way up—at him and decided that summer was a fine time to camp outside.
My daughter and I (Rusty loved her, too) got the dog settled in, and everything seemed to be going quite well until Tim went down to the basement. He was only down there about fifteen minutes, but that was enough time for Rusty to display his short-term memory disorder. Rusty and I were in the kitchen when Tim started up the stairs. I was facing away from the basement, but a sudden and intense growling made me whip around.
Tim was frozen on the staircase, stopped by Rusty whose every hair seemed to be standing on end, his impressive teeth bared and his growl most sincere. The dog meant business. No one was getting up those stairs.
“I think he doesn’t recognize you,” I explained above the snarls. “Try to look more like yourself.”
“Are you out of your mind?” Tim looked from me to the dog. “That dog goes back to the shelter tonight.”
“But the other dogs intimidate him.”
I wish I could describe Tim’s face when I said that.
Anyway, Rusty was returned to the no-kill shelter where he quickly found a permanent home with someone who appreciated his body-guarding skills.
“No more foster dogs,” I swore/lied when I told Tim I was still going to volunteer. “I’ll just walk the dogs. Little ones. With no teeth.”
And I did. I walked a schizophrenic Jack Russell terrier, a one-eyed obese beagle cross whose head was bandaged from the fight he’d started with another inmate (probably Rusty), and a sweet elderly mutt that liked to stop every few feet and look at me as if to say, “Who are you? How did we get here? What are we doing? Are we walking?”
And then came Buster. Oh, Buster. Buster was a BIG DOG. In fact, he had the biggest canine head I’ve ever seen. And big…something else, too. I mean, really impressive. He’d been recently neutered, but instead of deflating as expected, his…um…area formerly known as testicles had actually increased. Lest you think I exaggerate, on one of our walks (he walked just fine, thanks) a car stopped a few yards ahead of us. The driver turned around, pulled up alongside and exclaimed, “Are those real?!”
Please. Assuming I knew where to get fake canine ones, why would I? And yet this was not the only time the question was posed. Buster started conversations.
It turned out that Buster was in need of a temporary medical foster home. Honest.
To be continued…