Since my idea in writing this blog is to focus on the things that I care most about, I have to talk about Reynolds. He’s a Jack Russell terrier mix, and as far as we can tell, he’s about 4 years old. He’s been with me for a little over 2 years now. He’s the first dog I’ve had as an adult, and while I never intended to get attached and end up keeping him, I can’t imagine where I’d be right now without him.
This is where Reynolds was when I first found out about him. A woman I already didn’t particularly like posted on a local Facebook group that she needed a ride to take her sister’s dog to the pound. The shelters here have an extremely high kill rate, and this was an unaltered adult dog with no shots and no training of any kind. He didn’t stand a chance. At the time, I was renting from a family friend and had two cats, but my lease didn’t allow dogs. I figured that I would foster him for a couple of days while I found a longer-term solution for him. So my friend Mike and I met up with this woman at 10 PM in the parking lot of the TJMaxx where she worked, and her sister had brought the dog. She said she’d cleaned up his crate before she brought him, but it was still so covered in feces that I could barely handle it to get it into the trunk. She called him Max, and I knew from the first time I saw him that he wasn’t a Max. He was nervous and underweight and trembled when Mike picked him up.
This was Mike’s first foray into animal rescue, and on the way back, we had a conversation about the rush of being able to save a life. I can’t remember which of us quoted the line from Firefly about being “big damn heroes,” but as soon as it was said, I realized that Max was really a Reynolds, as in Malcolm Reynolds. Over the next couple of days, he didn’t stop barking except when he was asleep, and he about drove me nuts. He had been so neglected that he didn’t even know what peanut butter was, and he wasn’t housebroken at all. I found a home for him, but she started texting me the day after I dropped him off, saying that he had attacked one of her dogs and that she couldn’t keep him. (First, why was he in with the other dogs the first night? Second, I have NEVER seen Reynolds attack another dog, so I’m pretty sure he wasn’t the aggressor there.) She agreed to keep him until I could come get him, but then the next day she started texting me again about the barking. I got to her front door and told her, “I’m here for my dog.” He heard me and came running from the other side of the house. He jumped higher than I’ve ever seen him do since, and I had to catch him right at my chest level to hold him.
It’s taken a long time to get him to a point where he’s functional and socialized, with the basics of training. The fact that he spent so much of his early life closed up in his crate 24/7 put him significantly behind. He had been so neglected that he had no concept of peanut butter–the first time I gave it to him, it took him a good five minutes of sniffing before he gave it a very careful tiny taste. (He then realized it was the best stuff he had ever tasted and made very short work of it.) He had clearly been abused to some extent, because it took months of working with him before I could throw the ball overhand without him shrinking back in fear.
I used to laugh at the bumper stickers that say, “Who rescued who?” Grammar aside *cough*whom*cough*, I could not have gotten through the severe depressive crash last year without Reynolds. There were times when the only thing that kept me going is that if I killed myself, no one else would be willing to take on the challenge of my stubborn, hyper little dog and love him like he deserves. There were days when I hurt so badly that I couldn’t bear the thought of getting out of bed, but I got up and got dressed because Reynolds needed to go outside. I’m doing better now, but I owe this goofy little guy so much.