For a year as Big Dog grew weaker and older Kevin the neighbor's dog try to stay at our house. He would even run down to my driveway and bark at workers that pulled up in trucks. I would have to say - This is Kevin - He's not my dog.
The neighbors left for days during the coldest of cold and Kevin was on his own. We looked out to see him lying on the frozen ground, head hung down over the rock facing the kitchen window. I built a barricade from the wind on the porch, put down blankets, took food out behind Big Dog's back. Spoke soft words. When I confronted the neighbor when they returned about this they said - oh, i"m so sorry and thanks for taking care of him because so and so was supposed to do that and - blah blah blah.
Kevin was about 3 or 4 years old. A furry mutt. Part Pyr and part Golden Retriever by the looks of him. Every afternoon he howled the saddest song of his people. Like a lone wolf. I came in one night from the bookstore and my mother had tears in her eyes as she told me - there's something about that howl. It's the loneliness sound I know. He is lonely.
Kevin was a chain dog for the first years of his life. Then I suppose he was supposed to be a fierce guard dog and keep people at bay. He did that. He was also apparently supposed to fend for himself and survive the elements no matter what they were. He'd never had a bath in his life, smelt like a furry dog that had never had a bath and wasn't allowed inside. They have a little dog that lived inside. Kevin just stood and looked at the door as little dog went in.
We had Big Dog Titan who went in and Mom's dog Little Duncan. Kevin stood in my driveway and watched them go inside. He began to lay in the leaves by the house out of the wind and because they were soft. I didn't have the heart to make him leave. I started giving him milk bones through the gate in the morning. No matter how hungry he was he would take it and stand there and look at me, the light of appreciation in his eyes. A serious thank-you. He wouldn't leave with it until I said, You're welcome. Then he would take off and lay on the rock in the sun, hold it between his paws and eat. Or go hide it covering carefully with the dirt with his nose. A fun process to watch.
One day the man in the cap was angry that Kevin was down at the house and began screaming his name and demand that he come there. Kevin put his tail between his legs and went up the hill a few steps, then he would turn and run back towards me. Then turn and obviously frightened of what the result might be if he didn't obey, try to go back up the hill. The man kept screaming and he kept coming back toward me. I yelled up the hill that he was fine. We didn't mind. Let him be. Mr. Angry got in his truck with a huff and left.
We live in the country. I have a million dollar view from my little, old house on this hill. It's blue ridge beautiful. It comes with a price of having a mix of neighbors who are friendly and some who are other.
When the women were there alone Kevin would relax and visit a little with them. Still when I was outside and they called him up there as night was falling he would stay near me and pretend not to hear them. A man working on the house asked if those people were calling my dog. I said - That's Kevin. He's not my dog.
Having a small house with me and Mom and a little dog and mom's fifty pound cat and one BIG Dog one hundred twenty pound alpha dog on medication didn't leave a lot of room for any kind of blending. Although one day Big Dog was on the porch as I was sneaking Kevin a bone through the gate and he looked at me and looked at Kevin and looked back at me and it was that weirdest thing. I knew what he was thinking. If I leave now she won't be alone.
Then a few weeks later Big Dog passed over to the other side. While I was in Florida my sister went to have a conversation with the neighbors who may have just said it was okay for her to get him washed since he was matted to the skin and full of ticks including the ones I pulled off his face.
They had to shave him down to the skin. He didn't mind. A vet came out to the car and gave him his first rabies shot ever. Then he came in the house and lay very still in a corner as if we would throw him out. They someone let him on the sofa. In just a few days he understood what being a house dog was all about. Food, tv, sofa, air conditioning. Petting and brushing. When he was first shaved his skin was so sore from all the matts and tick bites that he couldn't be petted. He's well over that. His only problem is not wanting to go outside to the bathroom (although he doesn't go in the house) because he has a fear he won't be let back inside.
We took him for all his shots and to be chipped and have blood work. He was doing just fine with it all until a man walked in with a ball cap about the same height and shape of his former 'owner' then he began crying and thrashing around. The vet girls asked the man to please step outside and when he did Kevin not my dog was just fine.
My sister has been Kevin's angel. She has come to his rescue. I think maybe she has been trying to rescue her sister from Big Dog heartbreak in the process. She's made certain He's had all this shots, been chipped, had blood work done. Unfortunately, the heart-worm test came back positive. We've started him on antibiotics and steroids. The treatment is very expensive and we are discussing options with the vet.
If anyone knows of an organization that helps with this kind of thing for rescues that would be great information to know. Please share. One organization could help but we have to give up the dog to get the help.
I thought about the fact that Mom says he puts his paws on the counter, looks out the window and howls when I drive off. She says he loves me. I tell her that can't be possible. He's just a rescue. He just trusts me and needs me and feels better when I'm in the room. Then I thought about that and it sounds like something that might be love.
"Give him up? How could I do that?" I told the people, "Kevin's my dog."