Six PM. Usual feeding time. Nassau--so named because that empty lot where she lived, if living it can be called, is on the way to Fort Nassau--came out as soon as she heard my car, approached me as fearlessly as the day before.
Wish I could say the same for me.
Fear makes us tentative, hesitant. Fear stinks of adrenaline, the scent-tag of aggression. I had to get rid of the stink, or I'd get bitten again. Worse, I'd never get Nassau in the car.
Yoga breathing (with Nassau staring through the window--strange animals, these humans). Pep monologues. A cigarette (Nassau backed away, disgusted). When my hands didn't shake quite as much, I stepped out of the car.
First things first. Food.
In view of my
|Sniff and stretch, sniff and stretch.|
Come on, ladies, one more set!
I propped the crate door open, got her dish, filled it with kibble (yummy kibble, mmm), and put it in the crate. (Yum yum yum, Nassau!)
Epic fail. And I've got the photos to prove it.
I even tried with liverwurst. She did the same thing--sniff, stretch her body forward as far as she could into the crate, but all four legs stayed firmly out.
I didn't have a plan B. I never thought the crate would fail. But I had to come up with something. For pride, sure, but mostly because it killed me to drive away and see this thin, lonely dog watch the car leave and then disappear back into the bushes.
She looks like a pittie. 99% of the people she might run into would, at best, throw a stone. I was the 1%. Her safety depended on me.
I gave her pieces of liverwurst. Friends? I petted her, more to calm me than her. She didn't need it. She seemed comfortable enough, not totally at ease--who would be, with these evil humans roaming the land--but she wasn't skittish or obviously nervous.
Maybe I could get a leash on her. I showed her one. She sniffed it and lost interest (didn't smell like liverwurst), but she stayed next to me. So I took the leap. Hooked the leash on her collar. And she didn't even flinch.
But she refused to walk. No melodrama; just sat her little butt down and wouldn't budge.
What if I open the back of the car, maybe throw some liverwurst in there? Maybe she'll--
She did. Jumped in, made herself at home. On the driver's seat, once the liverwurst was all gone.
|Cue dramatic music, please.|
(NOTE: this is a 2-mo puppy playing with his mom.
Behold, the magic of Photoshop.)
I opened the driver's side door. "Nassau, honey. I need to... Could you maybe...?" She looked at me with a self-satisfied grin and slobbered all over the steering wheel.
I closed the door.
Cars zoomed past, some even honked--I assume they were people I know, but I had no headspace for embarrassment or anything, really, except getting over the stupid fear and getting in the damn car.
Nassau didn't make it easy. I had to bodily pick her up and move her to the passenger seat. My heart was beating so hard. She was confused (whaddyamean I can't drive?) but she never growled, never snapped.
|We take sailing into the sunset literally here.|
Well. I need you right back.
On that Thursday evening, with dusk in its last minutes of life, Nassau left the empty lot. Her stray days were over.
And the hard part was just beginning. Nassau was far from a clean bill of health. Tick fever (ehrlichiosis), heartworm, a growth on her liver, eyesight at only 50%, skin problems, digestive problems... Really, you name it. And she's a senior, probably around 8 in 2012. But her worst issue was her lack of social skills. When she bit the perfect fosters, it was time to make a decision. I just never imagined that decision would affect my life so profoundly.
(To be continued.)