Monday, August 11, 2008

Dog on the Blog: Good Bye, Pirate... We Will Miss You

Today we lost sweet Pirate. I know it was his time, but it is sad nonetheless.

Pirate came to us in the Spring of 2005. He was part of a rescue in Kingman, AZ. Some well intentioned ladies had collected a lot of dogs, and could not adequately care for them all. I think there were just over 100 dogs that needed rescue. We offered to take whomever was "left over" at the end -- the dogs who for one reason or another had been passed by.

There were 14 dogs left who came to our farm. (The 15th was Ginger, who came to us after her adoption did not work out. See Blog for July 5, 2008) It was through this rescue that we met our good Arizona friends Dr. Debbie Wilson, Betsy Senn and Ames McGarey.

And little Pirate was part of that group of 14, who had no where else to go.

He was inherently fearful of people, when we first met him. I don't know why. Maybe he had been treated badly by people. Or maybe he just never had enough exposure to people.

I will confess some small feelings of guilt that we never changed his name. I always thought his name was insensitive. Pirate had only one good eye. And it seemed to me that calling him Pirate just emphasized that negative, instead of all his positives.

He would not let us come near him. We put him in his yard, and we would chase him around and around and around to try to catch him for heartworm meds and the like. If we came into his space, his natural reaction was to run the other way. And if we tried to approach him, he would dart to the other end of the yard.

We tried putting Diane Dingo, one of the girls from the Kingman group, with Pirate. But it did not work out. Poor Pirate was as uncomfortable with other dogs as he was with people.

So we introduced Diane to Bing, and they hit it off and are still together after 3 years!

Little Pirate lived his solitary life in the way he chose to live it. It is not the life I would have picked for him. I would have chosen for him to lose his fears of us and take his turn in the bed with us. I would have chosen for him to have a friend, so he would have someone to play with and nap with. But that was not what Pirate wanted, and I had to learn to respect that.

Pirate was a curious guy who watched everything around him, with his single eye. He watched the birds up in the trees above him. He examined the roosters strutting past his yard. He studied our workers at the farm.

Pirate surprised all of us when he decided to allow one of our Texas workers, Robby Mathews, to actually sit next to him and pet him! We never understood what it was about Robby that Pirate trusted and was attracted to. We were just pleased for Pirate that he was connecting with someone, and we encouraged Robby to spend time with Pirate when he was working around him. Sadly, Robby left our farm a year ago and has joined the Marines. He will certainly be an asset to the Marine Corps, but we were sorry to see him go.

After Robby's departure, Pirate started letting my son, Doug, sit next to him and pet him.

Pirate was never able to transfer that trust to all people who came around him and loved him, but we were glad that Pirate was finally connecting, even if it was only with one specific person.

In the three years that we have been in Texas, Pirate has grown old. The fur around his muzzle had become almost completely grey. And his second eye, his "good" one, had begun to cloud over in the past several months. We knew that Pirate was coming to the end of his alloted days.

Nevertheless, even when you know it is time, it is still never easy to say good bye to one of our babies.

Jay Hellerich, executive director
smiling dog farms
a 501(c)3 corporation
wharton, texas

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