Sunday, May 22, 2016

Super Dog - Georgia

This is going to be a tough one, but Super Dog's story is too good not to tell.  And hopefully writing it will be both a good memorial for her and a reminder to me about the good times.  I'm ridiculously paranoid about preserving my anonymity but I'm going to use Super Dog's real name, Georgia, because it doesn't feel right to type anything else.

The story of Georgia actually starts two years before she came into my life.  After the divorce but before Cat moved out, she adopted a terrier puppy for her impending marriage, Pepper.  They were looking for a place together but hadn't found the right one yet, so the puppy stayed at our place.

Pepper was the first terrier I ever had, all the others were bigger breeds, but she was awesome.  She was an amazing little dog, by far the best runner I've seen, and lived with me for about six months before Cat moved out.  Even when the pup was living with Cat and them, I would take her out for runs and hikes on the weekends.  She's in great shape and still lives with them.

Fast forward a couple years, Cat and family moved half way around the world.  I knew it was going to be a lonely couple years and had just moved into a better place so I decided to adopt a dog.

On the Humane Society's website there were dozens of dogs to look through.  There were all varieties, shapes, ages, but I was looking for a terrier.  I wanted a dog with similar athleticism and personality to Pepper.

I picked out a couple that looked interesting, among them was Georgia.  The site was a little confusing, there were two photos of her, one with both eyes and another where you couldn't really tell if she had both, and the text talked about medical stuff.  It didn't matter to me either way, but I remember noticing.  She kept coming to mind.

About a week later I walked into the Humane Society, trying to go see the dogs, Georgia at the top of the list, and was surprised to see a poster by the volunteers:

"Come check out our one-eyed wonder dog!"
With a large photo of Georgia.

I told the lady at the counter that it was a sign.  And it was.

Georgia had come to the society as a stray that had been in serious need of medical attention.  She was about five years old, had to have an eye removed (it had been infected), and had heart worms.  They had been trying to get her adopted for a long time but due to her medical and aesthetic issues no one was interested in her.

They actually incentivized it, if I adopted her it wouldn't cost me a dime.

I'd already been interested, obviously, so it was like all the stars just lined up to make the adoption happen.

And yet, rarely are things that simple.

She was interested in me, but she was interested in everybody and every thing.  That's one of those things about adopting an adult dog that's had some tough experiences, they aren't the same as dogs that have been socialized and grown up normally.  They might like you but it isn't the same thing.

But that was okay, I knew it would take time to build a bond.

On the way home, Georgia with her head out the window, I noticed how much she shed.  It was insane.  At the time I figured it was just stress and maybe the conditions at the shelter.  (Nope, she shed more than dogs three times her size.)

The first months were interesting, we were more like roommates than anything else.  She did her thing, I did mine, we'd go for walks together.  We were feeling each other out.  To her, I was just another human, taking a turn at feeding her.  She had some behavioral issues, especially with other animals, so we worked on that too.

A couple times a year I travel for work and every time I had to board her I felt awful.  I'm sure in her head she was back at the shelter.  I'd pick her up a week later, get half a wag of a tail in response.  She wouldn't sleep in bed with me, first dog I ever had that did that.  She liked me, we were roommates, but that was about it.

Then, and I'm going to cry as I write this, one day, I got back from a week long trip and she was excited to see me.  That time she had stayed with a friend, and when I got there to pick her up she went nuts.  She was jumping and spinning around in circles and wagging her tail and was sooooo excited to see me and go back home.

That day, I cried.  My friend did too, she knew Georgia's story.  That was the first time that either of us saw her act like any other normal, happy dog.

I mean, imagine that dog's life.  She's a stray for so many years, all scarred up, lost an eye, spent more than a year in the shelter waiting to get adopted...  It took her a YEAR to let her guard down with me, to allow herself to become attached.

We had to earn each other's respect and love.  It took such a long time and so much work but it was worth it to see her do all the stuff that regular, happy dogs do.  It wasn't easy, at times it was very frustrating, but we both put in the effort.

I adopted Georgia about three years ago, she was basically a wild but well-intentioned dog then.  When I got her we couldn't go anywhere because she didn't know how to act with other animals, how to be on a leash, anything.  It took all of that time to get her to where she should have been; happy, healthy and socialized.  Two weeks ago we went to our first dog park and it was amazing.

In fact, if she hadn't come so far in the last three years she wouldn't have died quite so suddenly.

Jane and I have stayed friends since our short spell as FWBs, and she was always head over heels for Georgia.  We've joked that the only reason we stayed friends was because she wanted to spend time with Georgia.

Anyway, Jane got hurt in a recent accident and was unable to work.  She asked if Georgia could go stay with her for a day while she was on sick leave.


Well, on that day, that specific day, Georgia found some way out of the fenced yard and was hit by a car within about fifty feet of the house.

I got a call from the Humane Society and was very confused when they were asking me about a car accident.  I called Jane who was 100% convinced I was pulling a mean joke on her when I called to ask what was going on.

Turned out, it wasn't a messed up joke.  Georgia was gone before I got there, though I got to see Jane's boyfriend carrying her away from the scene and hear Jane's wailing.

What a fucked up way to spend an afternoon, taking care of your dead dog with the two people who blame themselves for it (even though it's not really their fault).  I don't recommend it.  I'm just going to say here that it wasn't Jane's fault, I don't blame either her or her boyfriend.  When I look at how everything happened that day, I just shake my head.  It was such a ridiculous, improbable chain of events, it was even re-scheduled, (I'm not going to go into detail, but it's like the odds of getting struck by lightning), all I could take away from everything was that shit happens and that day was just a really shitty one.

...But the thing is, that was one of the best days ever for Georgia.  She woke up with me, our regular routine, but instead of being left home alone when I'm at work she got to go have a bunch of adventures.  She went to a coffee shop with Jane, went to the dump with Jane's boyfriend, and she was about to have take out for lunch.  And then, (best guess) the gate broke, she got to go out and explore a new neighborhood...

Jane was even posting that stuff online, taking pictures and everything, unintentionally documenting Georgia's last day.  (Which kind of sucks the next morning)

So, as shitty as that day was for me, Jane, and her boyfriend (and, really, everyone that knew Georgia, because she was awesome), at least she went out on a really good day.

And really, the last three years of Georgia's life she was happy, healthy, and loved.  She might have spent most of her life without having a home or a family, but the last three years she had them.

And with all of the little coincidents, the little nudges, the improbabilities... It just makes me feel like I was supposed to find her when I did, we were supposed to have exactly this much time together, and then it was time for her to move on to her next good works.  Like a little doggy angel moving from lost cause to lost cause.

I keep telling myself it's okay to be sad, just don't let it go too far.  That seems to be helping, grieve but don't totally lose it.  I'm sad for myself, I miss her so much, but I'm also sad for all the things that I won't be able to share with her in the future, like she never got to visit my home state, or meet my daughter (though they met by skype).

She was my best friend, partner, roommate and buddy all rolled into one.  For the last three years, she has been the most important part of my day, every day.  And now she's gone.

I thought of an analogy last night.  I talk all the time about moving to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, I've been asked if I ever see anyone else there with me.  Usually, no, I don't see any other humans there.  But up until this week, there was always at least one dog.

She was cremated the next day.  Her ashes are at home with me.  I've been asked what I'm going to do with them, I'm going to keep them.  She spent a lot of her life without a home or family, she will always have a place in mine.  And one day, we'll be put to rest together.

So, Rest in Piece, Georgia.  She was a good girl.  She was happy, healthy and loved, and died having a really good day.  I suppose any of the rest of us would be lucky to say the same.


  1. Awwww, I'm so saddened to read this, but wow what a fantastic tribute to Georgia. It sounds like you both landed in each others lives at the exact right time. *hugs* ~Gina

  2. I'm at work, of course not working. I look forward to reading your emails, they seem infrequent and I guess that's part of the draw. I'm crying my eyes out and trying not to let anyone see me in a group of 3 other men. Ugh. I'm so sorry for you, yet so happy for Georgia. She had a good life with you, and she left on a good day, but I'm guessing every day was a good day for her since she met you. Hugs.