August 20, 2010


About a dog

I have not written much about Rennie yet. A few things about him: he’s really fast; he’s always making this face, like he wants to say something to the effect of “Why?”; and his butt never touches the ground when he sits.

But I don’t know much else, as I am actually still getting to know him. I have only really had him for a month and a half, because while I adopted him in late-May, I only had two weeks with him before I had to go back to Mexico and then I got stuck there for six weeks, so my sister (and sometimes my parents) took care of him and only when I got home at the end of July was I able to take him back in, and so we are just becoming acquainted with each other— as this attempted self-portrait sums up rather perfectly.

For those of you who do not know the entire story, my “Charley” was going to be Pedro. I got him back in April and then took him with me to Athens, Ga., where I was going to be housesitting for six weeks, and well, he got really sick and I had to put him to sleep. About two weeks later, I forced myself to look for another companion, looking on the local rescue networks in Athens. It’s heartbreaking work, for those who have never perused the animal shelter pages and gone to meet various pound puppies, having to ignore some to find that One, even though you want to just take them all in. But I finally met Rennie through this particularly well-run group, whose director warned me beforehand that he was a little shy but then added that he was going to bond with his owner pretty hard.

Quiet, unsure Rennie. Something just melted inside me when I met him and even though his hesitation towards new things (and his reported reputation to get carsick) gave me pause, there was just something about him. I couldn’t place it. But I was pretty sure I wanted him.

Fast forward through all that time I was in Mexico, hearing reports about him and how he was being a good boy indeed, and now it’s just the two of us, which is the moment I have been waiting for— and thinking about with some hesitation, as I did not know how he would like all this change. My sister assured me that it would be okay; he is an adaptable dog, she said. Yet his zodiac is Taurus, a sign known for being hesitant about new things.

He is just that about some things, as you will find out in a few moments. But as for everything else, he has been so, so good thus far. The day we arrived at Chad’s, he slipped out of his harness and ran away a few steps, because he was scared of Chad’s cat, Kitty. (Yes, scared of her.) But then we got him back and coaxed him inside.

“Dogs and cats get along in this house,” Chad had said.

I was not sure at all about that statement. I had already seen Rennie try to lunge at cats, while on his leash for walks. And there was one day that he would have likely devoured my mom’s cat, had there not been a pane of glass between them. But Chad was insistent that they would cohabit peacefully, so I kept my opinion to myself and watched the two of them warily, ever ready to dive for Rennie and hold him back from destroying sweet, beautiful Kitty.

Well, wouldn’t you know it? That bewitching little feline sweetly blinked her eyes a few times, and swelled up her shoulders and tail in warning a few other times, and then nothing. Rennie started ignoring her and she was able to lie in a chair inches from him.

He adjusted well in that house, where another dog, Bandit, accepted him (in that he more or less ignored Rennie) and the other roommates would give Rennie little pats and words of encouragement. If he was ever just wandering aimlessly, he would eventually go upstairs and put himself in his crate, his safe place, which will likely continue to ground him throughout this entire journey.

On Wednesday, though, I kind of pushed the envelope a tiny bit. I can tell you now (because we have since moved on to Stop No. 2) that we were in Chattanooga, which is surrounded by mountains, so Chad suggested we take Rennie for a hike and then end at a swimming hole. Until that point, my only experiences with Rennie and water were baths (which he very, very stoically endured before shaking himself vigorously for about 10 minutes afterward) and rainstorms (which he very, very petulantly endured by shaking himself vigorously every few steps), so I was pretty sure he hated being wet. But he’s a dog, so I was hoping that he liked swimming.

Well, here’s what happened. We made it to the rocky clearing in good spirits and hung out on this huge overhang, where you can jump off and into the water, Rennie all the while looking like he wanted to jump right off the edge.

Then we went back down to water level, because he was stressing me out, standing so close to the edge, and Chad waded in for a dip.

Rennie went crazy. He wanted to go in after Chad so badly, he could hardly keep it together. He was running back and forth on the bank,

doing his little puppy yips, falling all over himself to get in the water, trying different angles,

and then just staring after Chad.

But when he finally worked up the courage to splash in after Chad, he totally hated it.

So he splashed back out again. And retreated.

And came back for more.

And gave it a good go.

And then freaked out. (Look at the panic on his face.)

In the end, he resigned himself to the rocks. And he seemed pretty well depressed about it,

until Chad got out and we put our shoes back on and then we all three went running, running, running through the woods, where Rennie seemed to forget all about that embarrassing episode.

When you see him then, try not to talk about it and perhaps along the way on this trip, he will get over his fear at his own pace and plunge right in, because we all have to do that eventually.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mindy
    Aug 20 2010

    Poor, sweet Rennie. He’s a brave boy for giving it a shot.
    We live near the beach and our dog is sort of the same. He’ll nip and chase at the waves but if they cover more than his toes, it’s a quick retreat to the safety (and grime) of the dunes.

  2. hillary
    Aug 20 2010

    This is EXACTLY what happened to Mar. Do you remember? When we swam at Panther Creek and he FREAKED? I will make sure not to bring it up either episode next time I see Rennie.

  3. Sandy Mabery
    Aug 20 2010

    Great story. We have a great dog park (we call it a Bark Park) near us that we will have to take the two of you to visit while you are hear.

  4. SirenaSteve
    Aug 21 2010

    doggie drama. We should hear the story from his point of view 🙂

  5. Critt
    Aug 22 2010

    Poor Rennie. He so wanted to make his momma proud !

  6. Anna
    Aug 24 2010

    I love Rennie and hope to hear more about his adventures. The photo play by play of his swim attempts broke my heart. 🙂

    • Aug 25 2010

      Thank you, Anna. You will certainly hear more and then you get to meet him soon, too! He’s even better in person.

  7. Joan Boyce
    Aug 28 2010

    Hi! Your mom e-mailed me this morning and gave me your website. It’s terrific. Rennie is so cute! He’s a nice size as well and can be intimidating, so that’s good!

    Glad you’re having happy trails thus far, and will check in now and then to see where you are and what’s happening.

    Safe travel and have fun!

    • Aug 31 2010

      Thank you, Joan! It’s nice to see you here! And yes, Rennie is a great companion.


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