*This post is part of a series profiling the animals in our lives. Please click the tag at the bottom to view other profiles.
Not long after Richard and I bought our first home in Grande Prairie, after we had finished the painting and re-flooring and most of the unpacking, but before we were super settled, he plopped onto the sofa next to me one Saturday morning and gave me puppy eyes. “Dog?” he asked eagerly.
We had talked about getting a dog once we moved into a house with a fenced yard, which we now had. I’d never had a dog of my own, though I’d loved his childhood dog Jasper very much. Jasper had passed away the previous year. Still, I thought of myself more as a cat person. And a bunny person – we had a sweet dwarf rabbit at that point, who also lit up my days with love. “Um. You want a dog?” I asked him back.
“Dog?” he repeated, still with the puppy eyes. “Dog?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Ok. Lets get a dog.”
I called the local SPCA and asked about small to medium dogs. They had a handful, and told us to come by, so we did. We met each of the animals – a hyperactive border collie cross, an elderly and quiet poodle, a few others, but none really captured us. Then one of the workers came in with a limp little ball of fluff in her arms. She explained that the shih tzu had just come back from being fixed and was still groggy from her anaesthetic. I offered a hand for her to sniff and got a lick in return.
We wanted to get to know her a little so we went into the office and spent an hour on the floor with her as she got her wobbly legs back. She was so affectionate and playful and we knew she was meant to be with us. We asked about applying for her and were told they had eleven other applications. Eleven!!!??? But she was meant to be with us, so we applied anyway, and they phoned the next morning. They agreed – she was supposed to be our little baby.
Ivy had been a street pup, and they estimated her at two to three years old when she first came home with us. She’d had a fairly hard life – had been found with a choke collar nearly embedded in her (who puts a choke collar on a little bit of a thing like her???) But she didn’t seem to understand how to play. She turned her nose up at all the toys we provided. Squeaky hot dog? Couldn’t be bothered. Tug rope? What the heck was that for? Fluffy stuffie? Is this for burying under the bed?
But the first night at home, when Richard went to work – he was on the night shift then – I heard a weird rustling noise. I didn’t think it was Ivy, because she’d been very tentative about leaving my side up til that point. But it was the little puppy bugger – she had gotten into the trash and pulled out a milk carton.
Finally a toy she understood! She took it right to her bed, played and… well… humped away, haha!
It took her some time, but eventually she learned to play, and tug-of-war is now her favourite game. She’s still a little leery of fetch. She still keeps her toys in her bed, but thankfully nowadays they are more “conventional”. She’s particularly drawn to squeaky stuffies, now.
Ivy took to our bunny, Oreo, right away. She has been a nurturing/mothering type from the very start, and any animal smaller than her was immediately claimed as hers to take care of. Oreo had been living with us several years at this point, so definitely wasn’t a baby, but as a dwarf rabbit, she was just a little bugger. Ivy was in love. And Oreo didn’t mind. When Ivy got out of hand, she’d do a weird ninja-bunny move and kick the poor doggie in the head. She knew how to take care of herself, that one.
Ivy found her real soulmate later that year, when a little orange fluffball of a kitten moved in with us. You can read about that story here, on Nala’s profile page.
Over the years, Ivy moved with us several times, and loved to travel with us as well, but as she’s gotten up in years she enjoys only shorter car trips. She still loves to be included in everything we do, and panics if she is in another room and knows she’s being left out. She even sleeps in bed with us, even if she needs stairs to make it up there now! We tried crate-training her when she first moved in with us, but that was a no-go, because Ivy is a Houdini-esque escape artist. She can get out of any crate, and any fenced yard or dog run, for that matter.
People say that dog’s are man’s best friend. For me, Ivy has been woman’s best companion, for many years now. Richard laughs that he wanted a dog but that she quickly became mine (I blame it on the fact that I feed her, but there’s a little something more than that). She’s been my therapy dog through recent anxiety and PTSD issues. She’s an amazing comfort, full of love and happiness and so ready to share her affection and help me calm down when things are rough.
She is very quiet, and rarely barks even on command (if there’s a treat in your hand and she can actually see it, those are circumstances that might merit some yaps!). But heaven forbid if Richard isn’t home and she thinks a stranger is approaching. Richard came home early as a surprise one day and was confused, “Where was all that barking coming from? Did the neighbors get a dog?” No, it was Ivy, protecting her mama because he was here and she wasn’t expecting someone to come in the door so early.
She’s an angel, and I have no idea what I will ever do without her. She taught me about dogs, and about unconditional love, and about what it means to be the most important person in the world to another creature. All she has to offer in this world is herself, and her devotion, and she gives of that generously and shamelessly.