Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meet Cheyenne

Okay, it's not my kind of name, but she is my kind of dog. 73 pounds (33.2 kg) of Labrador love. I picked her up just before lunch yesterday, and we spent a rather hectic afternoon together once I signed the adoption papers and forked over $50- cheap at twice the price in my opinion. The Florida Keys Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has it's work cut out for it; I don't recall seeing a sign like this at any other animal shelter: There were lots of dogs to choose from but my wife spotted Cheyenne at the Holiday Parade Saturday night and my heart was set on her. This was her neighbor, cute and full of life. They are trying to raise five million bucks to build a hurricane proof air conditioned shelter here on Stock Island and they do a great job with what they have, cobbled together pens and kennels and a surprising amount of love: Volunteers walk the dogs and spend time with them. Cats roam free in a large cage, if they are suitable for the communal experience while some of the dogs get to hang together in groups and play madly. Cheyenne was alone in her pen when I arrived:Neither of us needed it but we got a get-to-know-you-walk together and she was as ready to go home as I was.She's a cheerful dog, wagging her tale on her way to saying goodbye to her former fellow inmates. She was dumped at the pound on October 27th 2009 by a military family from Louisiana, who, to my horror got rid of her, their older dog, and kept their younger animal. What a mistake they made. I cannot imagine the cruelty of dumping your family pet because she is old. And Cheyenne is a very young eight. She's never coming back here, that's a promise.
Cathy checked me out and told me about her issues, the usual skin problems caused mostly I suspect by stress, ears itching and so forth. No big deal. She was spayed by the pound (eight years old and not previously spayed- who are these idiot people who dare to own dogs?) and she got a vet's check out before being put up for adoption. No heart worm which is nice and a bit surprising.Before we could leave my wife had to come by and bond with the dog so the SPCA is sure the animal would be compatible in the home. They checked county records to be sure I owned my house, and then all the shelter workers came by to say good bye to their favorite Labrador and we were off.The plan was to take a quick walk, go home and relax. The day did not go as planned. Cheyenne walked straight to the car and climbed into the back seat like a pro. This was going to be easy I said to myself.We stopped by Little Hamaca city park and Cheyenne was off, sniffing and checking every little piece of greenery out. She looked like a dog in need of stimulation, and I think she found the right home because I know every wild dog walk within 30 miles of my home.She rides like a dog raised to be in a car, settled in the back seat, never bothering me at the wheel. I left her to do a little light shopping (brushes, bowls, some food etc...) and she sat quietly in the car while I was gone. It was heartwarming to come back to the car and see the little yellow head peering out looking for me.The beach brings out the juvenile in a dog and I met a couple of my friends who wanted to see my "new" dog on the waterfront. We ate our Badboy burritos at a Rest Beach table (and I was delighted to see no begging!) and let her loose on the sand. She started to run like a newly liberated dog.
Cheyenne doing her pit bull imitation tearing up and down the beach ears flat back:
She apparently has never been trained to enjoy the water and she didn't do much more than paddle around a bit before fleeing back to dry land:Noel thought the water was too cold so I had to explain a little about the Labrador breed's heritage as boat dogs raised in the cold Canadian North. They were first recorded as a distinct breed in Britain arriving off a Canadian fishing boat in 1820. In England they were trained to retrieve birds shot down in brush and bog. They thus have thick oily coats and Key West's balmy waters even in winter are nothing to them.
It really was time to bugger off home and do some settling in. So off we went, Cheyenne doing her duchess thing in the back after a firm rub down with a towel......before settling down for a nap while I did the chauffeuring thing up front. We got as far as Sugarloaf Key when my wife called requiring my presence back in her classroom on Stock Island. Heavy lifting is my specialty. She was in a meeting so I figured young Cheyenne might as well get some more of the great outdoors she had obviously been missing for a while. We went to the Bat Tower.It's pure speculation on my part and I doubtless have an over active imagination when it comes to dogs but I spent apart of the afternoon wondering how long she had fallen out of favor before the bastards dumped her. I wondered about being supplanted by a new younger dog in the family and being sidelined. I wondered even if they had had the gall to breed her and kept one of her puppies to replace the aging version. I really don't understand the prejudice against older dogs. To me they are more deserving of care and love and security. And Cheyenne is great company. She found an abandoned lunch on a utility trailer bed and amused me for a few minutes as she circled and tried to figure how to get it. She leaped up and almost nailed it but gave up.I am a lot less fanatical than some about what a dog puts in their mouth. Emma, my last Labrador sailed with us through central America along with our husky mix. They ate anything and everything they could find in every harbor we stopped in, and along every beach. Chocolate, chicken, greasy nastiness, whatever they found they ate and no way was I sticking my hand in their mouths. I met another cruiser who freaked every time his German Shepherd so much as looked at the gutter. I found my style of travel was much less stressful and the dogs did fine. I have no doubt Cheyenne will too. Though I do want to try to keep the weight off as much as I can in our calorie filled world. Labradors don't age much and I want her as long as possible.The last I saw of her before I went in to work for some late night overtime was a big yellow mound next to my wife's shape under the covers. She stopped snoring a moment and raised her head off the bed. Then she flopped down and I tip toed out and fired up the Bonneville. A home isn't a home without a Labrador and a rescued Labrador is the only way to go. Why buy a dog when there are so many abandoned animals looking for love and appreciating it when they get it? I just don't know why you'd encourage people to produce more dogs when there are more than enough already available.I won! No, my wife and I both won! No the SPCA won! No really, Cheyenne won the lottery (look at her on the bed for confirmation). Now we just need to figure out a new name.
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Post Scriptum: This is, quite coincidentally my 1000th post on this blog. Who would have thunk? I expect there will be quite a few more concerning the maintenance of dogs in the Keys now.