Spouse (aka "Mandy's daddy") took this picture of his doggy girl the other night. She knew he was getting ready for bed so she decided to get ready too. She uncovered one of the bed pillows, rearranged it, and claimed it for herself. She's on HIS pillow of course. The sun rises and sets on her daddy as far as she's concerned. Notice she left my pillow alone.
I've never shared Mandy's "story" so here it is. One rainy spring Saturday about three years ago, I was driving to the grocery store but was stopped in my tracks when I noticed a big black dog walking down the middle of Main Street. It was very obvious she'd been nursing puppies so I was sure someone must be searching for her. Cars were swerving to avoid hitting her but she seemed unconcerned about being in the middle of the street in the rain. I turned the van around and drove into an alley where I hoped to confront her.
The alley was behind a bank and here came the dog, walking across the bank parking lot toward me. She stopped and I stopped. I got out of the van and began to talk to her, asking here when she belonged, as if she could answer me. The rain was coming down harder and we were both getting soaked. I finally told her if she wanted some help, to come with me. She looked at me with a blank stare. I opened the van door and said, "I'm your only chance today sweetie, so if you're coming, let's go". To my shock, she sauntered over to the van and jumped into the driver's side. I gently nudged her into the passenger seat and there she sat, dripping wet and looking as if she'd understood exactly what I'd said to her. I forgot all about the grocery store and drove home with the big wet pooch.
Spouse and I dried her off, gave her food and water, and prepared a temporary bed for her in the garage. I was sure someone was looking for her. I called the Animal Shelter and Humane Society to ask if anyone had inquired about a missing dog that was nursing puppies. Apparently, no one had reported her missing. She seemed like a nice enough dog, so where did she belong and why was no one loooking for her?
On Monday, Mandy and I spent the whole day down in town walking door to door and shop to shop, asking if anyone knew anything about her. We traveled to three vet clinics in the hope someone would remember treating her or vaccinating her. No one seemed to know one thing about the poor dog. I was upset because I was sure there were some frantic puppies going without their mama's milk. For days I placed posters, advertised that I'd found the dog, and rang more doorbells. I didn't receive a single call about her.
I decided to take her to my vet to be examined. In the short amount of time we were together, she had bonded with me and had become protective - so much so, that she growled when the vet approached her. He noted she was about 2 years old and had a long nasty-looking scar on her left front leg. He also observed she was missing a toe on her left front paw. Her left foot was very sensitive and she winced when he examined it. I'll never forget the vet looking up at me and telling me to stop looking for her owner. He said she had possibly been abused, or at the very least, neglected, since it was apparent to him her injuries had not been treated, but left to heal on their own. My heart hurt for her and I knew I was never going to find her pups.
We'll never know to whom she had belonged, what happened to her puppies, or how she was so badly injured. I grieved for the puppies, not knowing if they'd come to harm or had good homes. Had they been abandoned too? Were they even alive? I had many questions but no answers. All I could do from there was take this poor dog home and try to make up for the wrongs done to her in her short life. We didn't need another dog. We didn't want another dog. We'd peviously had two dogs (also strays I'd rescued) and loved them dearly. They lived long and happy lives with us and after they left this world we decided to not have any more dogs. We'd had our dear Tasha and Molly for 19 and 20 years, respectively, and we wanted to be "out of the dog business", as Spouse expressed it.
As the adage goes, life happens while we're making other plans. We kept the dog and named her Mandy. She's not without faults. She chases the cats as if they're prey so we can't let them out together. Our other dogs were fine with cats, so Mandy's intolerance toward them did not make me happy. Mandy is very protective of Spouse and me and while that's not such a bad thing, she can be overreactive around strangers, small children, other dogs, moving bicycles, motorcycles, and on the list goes. She loves the grandkids and other family members though, and that's a good thing. She and Granddaughter are especially good friends.
We don't know what Mandy went through before she came to be with us, but we're teaching her that people can be loving and kind. She's still fearful around those she doesn't know and after a few not-so-positive experiences, we learned to avoid situations where she might feel the need to react. She is not a perfect dog and we're not perfect humans, but we have vowed to give Mandy a home and be her loving family for the rest of her days.