Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – January 6, 2004
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – January 6, 2004 – Everyone thinks that they have the “best”dog in the world – but in my case I don’t think it – I know it. Augie is a pound boy, found abandoned on a city street five years ago and taken to The Toronto Humane Society. He had just been released from quarantine into the main dog viewing room when I found him. His was the last pen in a long line of cages, each holding a jumping, yapping, mournful or frightened animal. Sleep was an impossibility!
In June of 1999 I lost my precious British Bull Terrier to liver disease. Boadi had graced my life and kept my heart warm for 14 years. I made the usual anguished oath of “I will never own a dog again – it hurts too much to lose it”. I vowed to never have another Bull terrier and it was a given that I wouldn’t have a male dog.
Now it was August and my home was strangely silent and lonely without the welcome yip yaps of man’s best friend. My brother Eric kept encouraging me to go to the Humane Society to see if there was a pooch who needed a home (as if there wouldn’t be). One afternoon my friend Chris and I decided to visit the River Street location – but just to have a peek. We passed about 50 caged pooches, all longing for affection and desperate to make contact with a person. It was heartbreaking! I got to the last cage before Chris – and there he was – a white British Bull Terrier.
Because he was a stray and nameless, they’d called him Winston – probably to reassure him of his British heritage. It was a totally unsatisfactory name. When I knelt down beside his cage he immediately started to turn himself inside out trying to connect with me. He was utterly beside himself with joy from this little bit of attention. I was surprised to see a pure-bred Bull Terrier in the shelter, but still adamant that this was not the dog for me. Who was I trying to kid? Certainly not Winston. He continued with his acrobatic contortions inside the cage. Chris and I played with him for a few minutes longer, and then she had to go to a meeting, and because I was driving, I had to leave too. Winston was crushed – all that effort and no reward.
I planned to think about Winston during the evening and then go back for another visit the next day, if I still felt this silly white pooch might be a good fit with my life. I dropped Chris off at her car and headed home. For some reason, I couldn’t get his little face out of my mind. If you’re familiar with this breed of dog, Bull Terriers are so homely they’re cute. I arrived home about five o’clock in the afternoon, but felt unsettled. When the Universe gives you a message, it’s always best to listen, and something was telling me to re-visit the shelter. I did. Winston was still as eager to please. Okay, that does it. I went off in search of a counsellor, found one and sat down at a table for my interview. In a matter of two or three minutes a couple sat down at the table beside me with another woman from the shelter.
I went through the usual questions – have you ever owned a dog before? Do you work? Are there other animals in your home? Do you have time to walk a dog? Can you afford to care for a dog? I must have passed muster because she asked me if I had selected a dog. “Yes”, I replied, and handed her a slip of paper where I’d written Winston’s kennel number. She went off to tag his cage as “adopted” and I sat and waited for her to return with the paperwork. I overheard the other counsellor in the room ask the couple she was chatting with if they had selected a dog? “Yes”, they replied, “The white, male Bull Terrier”.
“I don’t think so”.
Young master Winston danced out of that shelter with me, so full of himself you’d have thought he’d won the dog lottery, and in a way, I guess he had. Next came the name – hummm – Thursday (for the day he was adopted), Max, Bugsy, Lucky – hey, what about August for the month of his homecoming? And August it was and is. Of course, over the last five years he’s become Augie, the Auginator, Augie Bogie, the bog boy, Augie Boglatoose and the Boglatoosian – to name a few of his monikers. But mostly he’s just Augie.
He prances when he walks, he grins at strangers, people constantly remark on what a happy boy he is. He snores in a most bothersome fashion. For some reason known only to Augie, he has decided that he’s afraid of the floor so he backs up around the house – going from rug to rug and trying to avoid touching the hardwood. He gets under my feet at all the wrong times and tries to topple me down the stairs in his attempt to be the first to the bottom. He is contrary and irritating and I adore him.
Augie is ten now – we celebrate his birthday in August, to mark the day he came home. His sad times are over and I hope long forgotten. My friends and family cherish him as much as I do. I’m thankful that the great ‘dog god’ in the sky found me worthy of adopting Augie and I’m grateful for his cheerful, silly presence in my life. I know when I lose him I will be heartbroken, but I’ll live through it. As Rudyard Kipling so aptly wrote:
“Brother and sisters I bid you beware,
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear”
Sound advice indeed, but a warning I’m so pleased I ignored. If you have room in your heart for a furry friend, why not visit your local humane society? You’ll never regret loving an animal in need.
I have loved many dogs during my lifetime and I adore the 3 goofy boys who grace my live now – but Augie was my quintessential dog – always in my heart and my thoughts. I held him tightly as he drew his last breath and his sweet heart slowed and stopped beating. The day before he died – still bright eyed and full of love and gratitude – always gratitude!
Augie lost his brave battle with cancer on August 30, 2007.