Do We Choose Our Animals or Do Our Animals Choose Us?
Many years ago while I was on a trip out of town, I received a telephone call from one of my daughters. She excitedly told me that she had gone to the barn to feed the horses earlier in the afternoon and had made a great discovery. She said that the cutest little white dog ever had magically appeared at the barn. We already had three dogs in the family so the first words out of my mouth were, “DON’T PET HIM!” My daughter then reiterated that he was indeed the “cutest” thing. I replied by loudly barking, “No, we can’t keep him!” When I returned home, guess what was still lurking about the barn? Yes, you guessed it, the little white dog!
During that time period, our family was crammed into a small rental house across the street from the barn as we were building our permanent home. As any true horsemen would do, we had erected our barn before the house was even begun. Although I had no intention of keeping the little dog, I dutifully fed him as I endeavored to find his rightful home. He wore a collar but no tag, so I had no clue where to begin. I asked my neighbors if they knew where he might belong. They all said they had seen the dog but none knew where he lived. One neighbor reported that she had witnessed an interesting scenario. She had seen the little white dog sitting beside the road as a Ford van pulled up and stopped near him. She watched as the driver got out and walked toward the dog. As the driver approached, the little dog walked to the opposite side of the van. When the driver walked to the passenger’s side of the van, the dog walked to the driver’s side. As the driver walked around to the driver’s side, the dog walked to the passenger’s side. My neighbor watched as the person and the dog completed three complete circles at which time the driver gave up and simply drove away.
Each time I went to my barn, the little white dog was already there. I fed him at the barn as I tried to be to be somewhat aloof. I did not even think of petting him because I did not want to encourage him to stay. Each evening as I left the barn to walk home, the little fellow would try to follow me. I would admonish him to go back to stay at the barn and he would begrudgingly comply. But, each morning as I gazed out onto the porch of our rental home, there he was AGAIN! Each day I would step over the dog, go do my errands, and return to find him still on the porch. The little white dog followed me to the barn in the evenings where I would once again tell him to stay. He would abide my wishes until I went inside the house. The next morning, of course, he was back on my porch again. We continued to enact this pattern for several weeks.
Everyone knows that I love animals (especially animals in need), but I had convinced myself that owing to our hectic lifestyles, we simply did NOT need to be a four dog family. In less than a month’s time, we had sold our 3400 square foot home of seventeen years and had moved into a 1200 square foot rental house. This temporary home only had one bathroom and the shower emitted a barely visible stream of water. The house itself was so tiny that one of my children had to sleep on a sofa in the living room. To make matters worse, one of our lovely dogs mistook some of the landlord’s furniture for chew toys and our other dog had just accrued a $3500 vet bill. In addition to all the changes, we were in the process of building a house, for heaven’s sake! I felt justified in not wanting another dog at that point in time. Each morning I felt no guilt as I stepped over the little white mutt who had taken up residence on my front porch. “NO” was my final answer; or so I told myself until that fateful night. It had begun to rain and was getting colder by the minute. I told my daughter to peek outside to see if the little white dog was still there. He was, of course. My daughter and I brought him in, dried him off, and within four days he was sleeping in my bed and growling at my husband as he tried to come to bed too.
What can I say? Obviously we were meant to be a four dog family. The little white dog knew this all along and simply would not take no for an answer. Not only did he choose us, he chose his name as well. As we were rattling off a series of names, someone mentioned the name Rascal. The little dog responded so strongly that we all agreed his name had been chosen. That was seven years ago and Rascal is still with us today. He likes to make cameo appearances in my equestrian videos. I work countless hours with my horses to capture quality footage while Rascal wanders aimlessly around the arena. Additionally, I spend endless hours editing the videos to showcase our work. No matter how hard I try, the first thing that people say when they view my videos is, "That sure is a cute little white dog in your horse video". The little Rascal is true to his name for sure!
Although we would like to think of ourselves as the decision makers, we do not always choose our animals. Frequently, it is the animals that do the choosing. Like Rascal, they have it all figured out before we do! I would love to hear your stories of similar experiences.
Have a great rest of the week as you give thanks to the animal friends who have chosen you!
Linda & Rascal