About 13 months ago, a little terrier mix found his way into our home. T’s dog was out front. When he went to let her in, this little guy came running into the house, straight to the top of our stairs, and wagged his tail like he was home. He wore a black collar with no tags, but was well fed and had just had his nails groomed. It was the middle of December, so we could not, in good conscience, let him back out on the streets. We put posts on Facebook, took him to the vet to see if he was microchipped, and posted Found Dog signs in the neighborhood. No one responded.
Since he was not fixed and neither was our female dog, we had to lock him in the garage for the night to keep them separated. He whined and scratched at the door the entire night. The. Entire. Night. In the morning, I got Peanut up and off to school, let the dogs outside and back in, and went back to bed because I had slept so poorly the night before. When T and I finally woke up for good, we sat in the kitchen drinking our coffee and T looked at me and said, “I say we name him Westley.” To which I responded, “Goodnight, Westley. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” (We’re both ridiculously huge Princess Bride fans.) A few days later I woke up to our new dog with his shiny new Westley name tag. We were adopting him.
The first few months were difficult – especially until we got him fixed. Westley is a runner. If the front door is open for more than 5 seconds, he’s gone. Strangely enough, though, he comes home after about an hour or so and scratches at the front door. He doesn’t run away as often now, but it still happens every once in a while. The best story happened late that first December. Westley got out while I was driving halfway across the state to get Peanut back from her dad. It was the night we were going to celebrate our Christmas. We came home to every door downstairs being closed (which makes the front entrance feel very claustrophobic), T and his dog waiting at the door, and loud barking coming from the garage. T looked at me and held his bloody hands out to me for help cleaning himself up. It seems that his first reaction when Westley fled was to run after him. In his socks. Over the wet grass. As soon as he hit pavement, however, his now wet socks failed him and he ate it. Hard. He tore up the palms of his hands, his right elbow, and his knees. And he still chased after the dog and got him home. The dog, however, was banished to the garage for the night. That was also the night that he proposed to me and Peanut (yes, he bought her a ring too). As he knelt down on one knee and asked me to marry him, he finished by saying, “This would hurt a whole lot less if I didn’t just eat pavement 45 minutes ago.” I smiled through my tears and kissed him. I love that man and the little moments like that.
Westley has been a part of our family since. He jumps into bed with us at night and paws at the top of the sheets until we let him under, then curls up into a ball and spoons us. He greets me every day as I walk through the door, even if all I did was walk the driveway and get the mail. He even knows that the 2:50pm alarm on my phone means it’s time to walk to the bus stop to pick up Peanut. He gets so excited for it. And, he helped us through one of the toughest times in our lives and our relationship.
When I met T, I was in competition with the other love of his life – his dog, Blue. She was a beautiful Blue Healer/Husky mix with one brown eye and one blue eye and she had the sweetest disposition. The first time I met her, I immediately scratched that spot on her back right above her tail and we were fast friends. She would cuddle with me on the couch and would jump into our bed to cuddle in the mornings after T had left for work. Even though she will always be his dog, I like to think we shared a little piece of each others’ hearts. While T had her for almost 9 years, I only got to share 2 of those. On August 21st, we woke up, but Blue didn’t. She passed away in her sleep that night, watching over my peanut. It’s the first time I ever saw T cry. Thinking of the hole she left in our family still makes me tear up. I still can’t listen to that song, ‘See You Again’ from the newest Fast and the Furious movie without sobbing.
The morning that we found Blue, Westley laid on Sophie’s bed and cried. It was both endearing and heartbreaking. He walked around the house lost and aimless the next few days. We all did. But having him there to cuddle with, going through the daily routine with him, seeing how excited he was when any of us came home… That’s what got us through that time. I am forever in his debt because of that. T latched onto him after that day. He would come home, go in our room, and just cuddle with Westley on Blue’s old dog bed for an hour or more each day. The two of them now have an inseparable bond. T still has his off days where he misses his best friend, but having Westley here definitely made the transition a little easier.
What animals have made an impact on your life? How have they helped you?