Mean Dog, Part 8

Why Not Wyatt?

by Terri Florentino

For the first few days, Whiskey seemed depressed. He never left my side and barely ate a thing. Time passed, he started eating again, explored a little, and romped around with Tulley. When people came to visit, he greeted them with his whole body, wiggling with delight. It turned out that Whiskey was a delightful character, full of adorable antics.

I decided that a new name might help him progress. Because he was such a clown, I’d nicknamed him “Cowboy,” but thought the new name should resemble the old. Wyatt Earp was a cowboy, so why not “Wyatt?” It didn’t take that cowboy long to learn his name, and after a trip to the vet for blood work, vaccinations, and neutering, he got a clean bill of health. I started training right away.

The worst thing about Wyatt was serious: he lifted his leg on everything in sight. My biggest fear was that neutering wouldn’t change it. If he couldn’t be housebroken, I probably couldn’t find him a loving family of his own.

I kept him on a leash indoors and gave him a firm “No!” each time I saw him sniff and lift. Fortunately, he was easily shamed. Basic obedience moved swiftly; he wanted very much to please me. He learned so fast that I soon looked for a permanent home for him. The longer it takes to find a home, the harder the transfer is for the dog—and for me. Sometimes, after I’d placed a rescue dog I’d had for a long time, my husband, Ed, caught me crying. “Self-induced misery,” he’d tease.

Wyatt was a lively, loving dog and needed a home where he could get plenty of exercise, perhaps with children and other animals for company and fun. He’d also need someone willing to keep training him. That got me considering Karen, Jim, and Morgan. Karen was a runner and wanted a running partner. Jim was an avid outdoorsman. They would train him. What cinched it, though, was seeing how Wyatt loved children. He was sure to put a smile back on little Morgan’s face.

I wrote them an email: “How are you since losing Raine? I know it must be hard. I’m writing to tell you about Wyatt.”

“We’re still grieving,” Karen wrote back. “Thank you for letting me know about Wyatt. I need to talk to Jim. I’ll be in touch.” The very next day she wrote to ask a few questions about Wyatt. I answered her and offered to bring him to meet her family. “We’d love that!” she dashed back.

Tulleygoingride (1)The following weekend Ed and I packed up the truck with our two black-and-white buddies, Tulley and Wyatt. We headed out for the two-hour ride to New Jersey. Both dogs got along well, but liked to have their own space. Wyatt jumped all the way into the third seat, and Tulley camped out in the middle. After a long, companionable ride, we passed a large farm that brought the scent of manure rolling through the windows, and Tulley began to whine and pace from window to window.

“We must be getting close,” Ed said. “He remembers.”

“It’s been four years,” I said. “He can’t possibly know where we are!” How could Tulley remember a place he’d only seen flash by a car window at fifty-five miles an hour?

Sure enough, Ed was right. A few minutes later, as we pulled into their driveway, Tulley wailed with joy. He flung himself from window to window scrabbling to get out of the truck. Karen, Jim, and Morgan heard us arrive and came out to meet us. When we opened the door for Tulley, he rocketed straight at Jim and Karen in glee, almost knocking them over. They threw their arms around him. The worst had been forgiven and forgotten, and all they remembered was love. As for Morgan, who had transformed from a baby to a four-year-old girl in his absence, she kept her distance. Tulley paid her no attention.

When it was time, Ed kept Tulley busy with a tennis ball while I got Wyatt out of the truck. Wyatt met them eagerly, all wiggles. Morgan giggled and patted her new friend. So far, so good. Greetings over, we put Tulley back into the truck and brought Wyatt into the house. I kept him on lead and walked him through the main area of the house, room to room. He sniffed everything and never even considered lifting his leg. Then, we let him run off-lead in the fenced yard while Morgan sat nearby on her swing set. He zigzagged every inch of the yard, nose down, and thankfully did his marking there. Every few moments, to Morgan’s delight, he’d check in with her for another wiggle and kiss. She began to swing on her swing and sing to herself, improvising a song about wiggly Wyatt. Karen and I exchanged glances and smiled. So charming, so peaceful, so perfect.

She and I stepped back into the house to speak privately, leaving the men to watch over Morgan and Wyatt. No sooner had the door closed behind me than Wyatt was jumping and yelping against it. When we returned to the yard, he leapt on me in joyful relief and planted himself beside me. He wouldn’t let me out of his sight.

Apparently, Wyatt had grown very happy to consider himself mine. Now Karen and I exchanged worried looks.

How could we help Wyatt feel happy to belong to them?

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20 responses to “Mean Dog, Part 8

  1. Loving every episode, so well written, so professional…the writing has me feeling as if I’m there and has me clamoring for the next installment. Your website is very well done as well!

  2. I’m thinking it was a great story and admire your skill at coping with dogs who need that little bit extra to put them back on the path to happiness

  3. didn’t want it to end!!

  4. Nice piece….That Tulley looks handsome…

  5. Working on the finale as we speak!

  6. Loving this story!!!! Keeping me on the edge of my seat – hoping and praying for a happy ending for this family and that they found their forever companion!!!!

  7. I promise the ending will be a must read!

  8. My favorite part about the Mean Dog series is that although we are following the stories of other dogs like Wyatt and Raine, Tulley is the ever-present fixture tying each tale together. Really wonderful writing, can’t wait for more!

  9. What a moving series of stories! Very well written. I too am praying or a happy ending – has to be!

  10. I am pleased you are enjoying the series, Judy. The final chapter will come out this week, stay tuned and thank you.

  11. I share the opinions of the other readers – loving the story and your writing style. I, too, am hoping for a book to be in your future. I’m just curious – there is so much detail here…Did you write things down as they happened or recall them at a later time? Either way, it is successful!

  12. Beautifully written Terri! I am recalling these events as if they happened just yesterday. Truly remarkable all we have been through together. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you have done for my family and me… and for your unending devotion to these amazing animals. Can’t wait to read the finale!

  13. Thank you for the question and the compliment, Terry. I have kept a journal throughout my entire journey. There is actually much more detail to the story that I am saving for the book.

  14. Can’t wait for you to read it, Karen. I can’t thank you enough for all of your support through this process.

  15. Terri, the finale was great!!! I somehow missed this comment of yours. You are so very welcome! It has been my pleasure. You did such a wonderful job on the Mean Dog series. I so appreciate you choosing our story to write about and feature on BCI. Many thanks again!

  16. Terri,
    I am sitting up at 4 a.m reading your stories ! How beautiful. I am waiting for the finale of what happened to Wyatt .
    I really wish you knew my Bella and our story before we brought her home. I think you really would have enjoyed it. Although it was a real tough experience for me. As you know now she is failing . My heart is breaking every time I have to give her a pain pill. I hope I gave her a happy life. I love her for sure.
    We have to get together after the cold . I can’t wait to come and see your dogs again. You are such a sweetie.
    I have to go back to the top of the page and read mean dogs . Bella started out that way. I am dying to read those. I enjoy your writing so much.
    Thank you
    Sharon Valvano

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