Mean Dog, Finale

Safe and Loved

by Terri Florentino

I must admit I felt a connection with Wyatt. He’d look at me with those big, round, dark brown eyes as if he saw and loved my very soul. I had tried not to give him too much of myself, knowing he couldn’t stay. After all, now that Tulley had joined our family, I knew too well that six dogs were our limit.

Morgan at Six Years Old

Wyatt with Karen and Morgan

At this juncture neither Karen nor I were convinced that Wyatt would make a suitable companion for their family. We all went back inside together and discuss Wyatt’s training and feeding and sleeping schedule. While we decided his fate, he trotted through the house, following Morgan and inspecting her every move. Morgan talked to him, “C’mon, Wyatt. This is a stuffed-animal tea party, and you can be our guest.” Wyatt hung on her every word, which pleased the little girl mightily.

As we talked, occasionally Jim knelt and called to him. Wyatt dashed over and wiggled as Jim ruffled his fur all over. Finally, Jim turned to Karen, “I say let’s give him a try.”

Lost in her play-pretend, Morgan had seemed oblivious to the adult conversation, but right on cue she piped up, “Oh! Can we keep him, Daddy?”

Jim and Karen blurted, “Yes!” Then Karen added, “If Wyatt is happy, we would love for him to stay.”

“Wonderful!” I said, but my enthusiasm sounded a bit forced. Puzzled, I looked at Wyatt anew—could it be this was good-bye? What in the world had I expected?

Knowing how intuitive he was, I tried to conceal my sorrow. “Do you have that crate we talked about?”

“Yes,” Karen said.

“Put him in the crate and don’t let him out until after I’m gone.” I managed to hold back my tears. “I don’t want him to see me leave.” Just then, Wyatt walked over and slid his head onto my lap. I cupped his face. “You’re a good boy. . . . I’ll always be with you.” Everyone began to sniffle.

Ed stood up. “Okay, let’s go, honey.” I let him guide me to my feet and put his arm around me.

Karen escorted Wyatt to another room and the crate. At the door, Karen embraced me—no words, just strength, trust, and love.

Merry Christmas, Wyatt

Merry Christmas, Wyatt

Karen emailed me often. Morgan loved Wyatt from the start. He joined in many a tea party, fashion show, and Disney-movie reenactment. At first, he didn’t know what to do with himself, which was saying a lot, because Wyatt had a big personality. With so much attention from a family so happy to have him, he acted like a kid in a candy store. Overcome with glee, he’d race through the house and leap from couch to chair to chair. They realized quickly how right I was about his need for training, and they diligently obliged.

Wyatt was a counter-surfer, and for this, Karen asked my advice. I replied, “Don’t leave things on the counter to tempt him, and he may forget to surf.” That cured it, but one St. Patrick’s Day, Wyatt had a little lapse. Karen had made corned beef and cabbage and left it to cool on the counter. A half hour later she returned to find the entire meal had vanished. Wyatt had sprawled himself out on the kitchen floor, lounging with a look of self-satisfaction. He practically shrugged at her, as if to say, “Hey, you obviously didn’t want it. What’s the problem?”

Morgan and Wyatt

Morgan and Wyatt

At first, Wyatt was haunted by old fears and anxieties. Whenever he rode in the car with Karen and she stopped at the supermarket or strip mall, he’d panic and try to keep her from getting out, as if remembering the day his first owner gave him up in a parking lot. Eventually, he learned to love car rides, but it took time and a lot of reassurance. Summer storms frightened him; sometimes they’d find him hiding in the clothes dryer. When left alone for long periods, Wyatt scratched up the furniture, the floor, the doors. Karen used Rescue Remedy or Anxiety Relief drops, and Wyatt learned when he felt his fears coming on to go to her and sit obediently, as if to say, “Please, please, please may I have a few drops of the stuff?” He’d lift his lip and wait for her to squeeze the medicine into his mouth. Over time, he learned he was well-cared-for, and his fears subsided.

Morgan, Jim, and Wyatt

Morgan, Jim, and Wyatt

Last fall, while Morgan was asleep in bed and Jim was outside spotting deer, Karen decided to make a cup of tea before bed. Her heel slipped off the top step, and she went skidding down the wooden stairs on her tailbone. There she sat at the bottom with a dislocated shoulder, a concussion, and a likely broken coccyx, so painful that Karen heard herself wailing in a way she never had before. Wyatt dashed over and ran his eyes and nose all over her. Then he rocketed up on the couch in front of the picture window and barked and barked and barked. Jim was was spotting deer about thirty yards away and heard Wyatt’s bark. Afraid Wyatt would wake up Morgan, he came running to scold him, but instead found Karen injured and badly dazed.

You're safe, and you're loved.

You’re safe, and you’re loved.

Wyatt and Karen had grown very close, in part thanks to the three-and-a-half-mile runs. At one particular point halfway up a hill, Wyatt would stop dead in his tracks and sit right in front of the “SPEED LIMIT 25 When Horse Rider Is Present” sign. He refused to budge. Karen spoke firmly and tired to get him to heel, but nothing worked. Karen stood there thinking, “Seriously? Just move your tush up the hill. This is not hard!” She usually had to get back home to get Morgan on the bus and Jim off to work. Finally one day, as Wyatt sat by the sign like a cement statue, she leaned down, patted his head, and said in his ear, “Everything’s okay. It’s all fine. You’re safe, and you’re loved.” He relaxed, he wriggled all over, and then zipped up that hill like an Olympic athlete.

Wyatt still oversees all the movement in the house, off to work and school, over to the barn, out to bound in fresh snow, and up to bed, when he listens attentively to bedtime stories and often stays to sleep in Morgan’s room. Whatever’s going on, Wyatt is happiest when the family is all together.

Karen works from from home, and every afternoon like clockwork, Wyatt comes to her and whines. Engrossed in her work, she tells him to hush and lie down. He settles for a moment before fussing again—right around the time Karen looks up to see the school bus coming down the road. The house sits almost 800 feet from the road, and he starts to whine and pace about five minutes before she even sees the bus. Karen still can’t figure out how he knows Morgan is on the bus and it’s time to go get her.

Morgan and Wyatt in the snow

Morgan and Wyatt in the snow

Karen emailed me the other day, “I just said to Jim tonight that we’ve had Wyatt longer than we’ve had any dog. Hard to believe he’ll be ten years old in a few months.”

So many things had happened since their dear Raine had died. The whole world had changed for the mean dog who had become our own dear, old Tulley.

Karen wondered, “Where does the time go?”

I believe that there is an explanation for everything, so, yes, I believe in miracles. ~Robert Brault

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15 responses to “Mean Dog, Finale

  1. Loved your Mean Dog stories! I laughed and cried.

  2. Ditto, Carol. Thank you for commenting. Many, many more stories to come.

  3. Danielle Simmons

    What a wonderful series! I’m still crying!

  4. you are a very special writer,, I am just sorry this chapter is done,,,you need to write a book.

    loved this
    thank you for sharing

  5. Terri – loved every section of this beautiful story. Thank you for writing and sharing. You are a gift to so many of God’s creatures in so many ways.

  6. My co-writer Lisa and I are determined to make the book happen Joy. Thank for your vote of confidence and commenting. More incredible stories to come!

  7. Judy I am touched by your words, thank you very much. I feel that it is my responsibility to follow through with the gift the God has bestowed upon me.

  8. Terri – this story touched my heart in so many ways – happy and sad!!! What a beautiful ending to all involved!! In so many ways I see a lot of Chase in this story as well and your words are helping me continue to help him thru his issues!! You have such a gift with animals along with lots of love for them as we’ll as the people you come in contact with!! You are truly an inspiration to not only me but others!! Thank you for sharing your life stories and am looking forward to all that’s yet to come! 😃
    Debbie

  9. Debbie, it is people like yourself who have entrusted me with your canine companions that I need to thank. Without any of you this journey would not have been possible.

  10. Terri, wonderful finale! Thank you for sharing these stories. Wyatt is a very smart boy…it’s no surprise he loved you from the start! You were the angel who saved and loved him. God bless you! We are truly blessed to be his forever family.

    Throughout the Mean Dog series I couldn’t help but feel tremendous gratitude for your presence in my life and all you’ve done for my family and me…and for three furry family members in particular. From our very first conversation many years ago, it became quickly apparent that you were the angel I had been praying for to help guide us when we had no answers. We share a special kinship…I will always think of you as extended family. Heartfelt thanks to you, Ed and your family for loving Tulley and for giving him a wonderful life!

    Many thanks again for your interest in sharing our story with the world. Through your beautifully written words, you captured many memories and feelings. Some of the more difficult ones had been silenced by time. The tears flowed as I read. Emotions ran high. I kept reminding myself that after the rain…the rainbow.

    And finally…thank you to the many readers who have enjoyed and commented on the Mean Dog series. Without Terri so eloquently giving voice to this story, it would have simply remained in the hearts of few.

    Good luck Terri and Lisa on your continued journey. Success and happiness always!!

    Looking forward to what’s next on the BCI horizon. Staying tuned in!

    With love and gratitude,

    Karen

  11. Great stories – just caught up with the last 3 episodes. I agree – expand into a book. Marvelous!!!

  12. Beautiful stories. I love a happy ending. 🙂

Whatcha thinking? Gimme that! Grr! Grr!

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