Throwback Thursday: The Award-Winning Dogs are…


In June 2000, against my better judgment, I let a coworker talk me into taking a neglected, abused 18-month-old Australian Terrier that he essentially stole from the yard of his neighbors, the neglectful owners (who, as it turned out, had nabbed her as a puppy from someone else).

I named her Shane. She had no social skills and had to learn how to play without biting and bruising, how to behave in polite company, and…okay, she never learned that last part. Shane, who I lost last August at age 16, was my wild child. Until I rescued her from each of their homes multiple times after she’d run away, I’d never met my neighbors in New Orleans. By the time I left a few years ago, I knew them all by name. I guess you could say she socialized me.

In September 2000, after Shane and I had been struggling to find a routine for three months, a skinny, straggly, shaggy black stray dog showed up outside my wrought-iron fence and Shane adopted him. I had nothing to do with it. She’d stand inside the fence and he’d stand outside the fence and they’d rub noses. They’d race each other back and forth across the yard. This went on for DAYS.

“That dog is starving,” I thought. “I’ll let him in the fence to play with Shane and give him something to eat.” So I let him in the yard and headed for the house. He almost knocked me over as I opened the front door and proceeded to race through the house with Shane on his heels.

“What are you, a tanker?” I asked helplessly. I was stubborn, though. I did not want this dog. So I called animal control and they sent out a dude in a dog paddywagon. The animal officer looked at the two dogs through the fence, pointed at my shaggy red terrier and said, “That the one?”

Coldhearted moi pointed to the big black dog and said. “That’s the one.”

The big black dog cried when the officer picked him up and put him in the truck. I went inside and cried. Then I called the humane society, told them to not give that dog to ANYBODY and I’d be back to get him. The free dog I’d had hauled away? I had to drive across town and pay $100 to get him back.

I named him Tanker. He was about 10 months old and weighed 38 pounds. He was supposed to weigh 70. He really WAS starving, living on garbage and leaves. He had heartworms and a mild case of pneumonia.

Shane and Tanker would be best buddies for the next 14 years. Two weeks after Tanker moved in, I came home to this destruction. It HAD been my living room. That HAD once been a leather sofa. And the stuffing HAD been inside the furniture.

big mess

I entered the photo in Merry Maids’ ‘MOST DESTRUCTIVE PET’ contest and Shane and Tanker won second place. I got the house cleaned.

Now Shane is gone and Tank is deaf and has arthritis. His life expectancy was 12. He just had his 15th birthday. And he’s still my baby. (The photo at top? My friend Lora and I took “the varmints” to have their photo made with Santa but Tank kept trying to bite Santa, so they had their picture made on a bench. Then Shane went to ground in the fake snow, Tank peed on a big bag of bird seed, and I fled the store before they threw us out.)

9 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: The Award-Winning Dogs are…

  1. Even though I know this story, when I read about those two It brings tears to my eyes. Well I didn’t know about the bird seed. LOL Thanks.

  2. yes even if we knew part of the story this is still so moving and the history about teh photography did make me smile^^;; because i’m sure some santa did not forget those two despite the threat to his representant

  3. furbabies definitely bring color and life to our lives!!! Your “kids” are sooo cute! I’ve lost all shame and self-consciousness for standing outside at night/early morning yelling at my dog to “go POTTY”. But when he curls up in my lap and does that content/happy sigh, it’s all worth it 🙂

  4. What a heartbreaking story Suzanne. My two dogs were abused when they arrived at my home. My boyfriend got them from somewhere, and I never knew how. But when I kicked him out, I kept the dogs. They died of old age. I would love another dog, but my allergies will kill me.

  5. Aurian, I think rescued dogs are the best. I know I’m going to lose Tank soon–he’s gone way past his life expectancy and his mobility declines almost daily. I probably won’t get another pet for a couple of years, but I’ll have to get another when I get to wherever I end up when I leave the day job in (I hope) 2017. Sorry your allergies prevent you from getting one!

    Thanks for the comments, guys. We love our furbabies, whether their canine or feline!

  6. My boyfriend doesn’t want another cat after having to put the last one to sleep after she had a stroke. I think she was about 15. He took her in because his daugter couldn’t keep her – her daughter was allergic. The cat before that one was a stray that a neighbor was feeding. That cat wouldn’t come in the house so she had a heatebox on the porch for the winter. She would let my boyfriend pet her about three times before she’d claw him ( he’s the one who always fed her) but she’d wait in the yard for me to come outside after dinner and be under my feet wanting to get petted all evening.