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.
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.)