There they were, three helpless puppies hovering close to where their momma laid. She hadn't made it across the busy road and the pups had nowhere else to go.
They were clearly born as strays, to what I'm assuming was a hunting dog. She probably got knocked up and the owner had no way to care for a pregnant dog much less a litter of puppies too. She got the boot. She must have been a bad ass to make it that long, all while nurturing her brood.
Friends of friends found this heart wrenching sight and took action. One lucky pup found an immediate home, one went to a lady who works at a vet with great connections, and last but not least, our sweet friends agreed to "foster" the remaining pup. They were not your typical puppies; squirmy, cute, chunky, soft as down, happy, these three brothers were fighting for their lives. They had, what a vet told me later, the worst tick infestation on puppies that she had ever seen, covered from heard to toe. They were extremely malnourished, had worms, and were all together messes.
I can't turn down a good time and my friend, her husband, Clay (their Chocolate Lab), Magnum (their Bloodhound), Marley (their cat), two pigs, and a sickly foster puppy were packing to get ready to move into their new home. I eagerly offered to help. Packing is generally more fun and less daunting with good friends. And I also created the opportunity to meet the puppy.
He was lazy and completely uninterested in human attention. Perfect, I thought, just like me. He was sickly and mainly focused on eating, sleeping and brief visits outside. He was covered in scabs, almost like chicken pox, from the tick bites. His coat was coarse and dull. Clearly, recovering from his ordeal and unsure of his new surroundings. Bless his sweet heart. It makes me sad just recalling his painful beginning.
I remember my husband telling me not to come home with a puppy. He obviously knew I had ulterior motives for this "packing" trip. I spent the night and remember sleeping very little. This little guy needed a good home and unfortunately my friends knew, that for them, the timing was just all wrong. I was so conflicted as I tossed and turned recalling Pippin's puppyhood. It was so fucking hard. She barely slept, she whined, she hated riding in cars, I was 23 and barely able to take care of myself much less a needy puppy, I could go on. Was I ready for that again? Were we ready for that? I was also nervous because we live in the city and despite making every possible effort to get Pippin adequate exercise sometimes it just doesn't happen. Add an active puppy to the mix and we'd be screwed. I spoke with my husband before returning home and decided to leave the puppy there. However, something snapped in my brain on the way home and I made it my mission upon arrival to convince him that we needed this puppy.
It worked, because the next day we drove back, with Pippin, to get the puppy. We were going to give it a shot and Godforbid it wasn't a good fit, our friends would be in their new place soon and were happy to take him back once they got settled. Pippin even seemed entertained by this cute creature. We sat on their porch and agreed on a name we all liked, Hitch.
We loaded up the truck, dogs in the backseat and were on our way. We hadn't made it more than a mile before Pippin attempted to bite Hitch's head off or that's at least what it sounded like from the drivers seat. Pippin seemed to be confused and irritated. He was a decent playmate but why is he in OUR truck? Is he OURS? All of a sudden, in my gut, I questioned our decision. Hitch curled up in my husbands lap and slept the rest of the way. Puppy love was all over his face, he was beaming. Meanwhile, I could feel Pippin's hatred brewing in the backseat.
The first week was hard. Actually, it was harder than hard. He was feeling better and becoming extremely active which was the easy part. Pippin was a different dog. She refused to eat. She hid out in our room. She stop relieving herself in our yard. She gave herself horrible stomach problems. She moped constantly and lost all her spunk. I wish I was making this shit up. Absolutely devastating for a momma to witness. It was literally breaking my heart. It was a huge adjustment, to say the very least. Besides the fact that Pippin was acting out in the worst possible ways, I knew she would eventually get over it. Maybe she'd never love him but maybe she'd learn to accept him. To add to the challenge, I felt like Hitch needed more space than we had to offer. Like an overwhelming gut feeling that he not only needed more space but he DESERVED more space. I cried every day. I was so sad. And to dump salt in my wounds, me and the hubby were not on the same page about how to remedy our situation. More accurately we were in different books.
Somehow, and long story short, we ended up getting back into the same book. We still weren't on the same page but there had been progress. We decided to contact our friends and fill them in on our predicament and inform them that Hitch needed more space than we could provide. We felt awful. Our friends were disappointed and in a predicament of there own-- the closing process on their new home wasn't going according to plans and they wouldn't be moving for several more weeks. We agreed to keep Hitch until they were ready. Sadly, as reality set in, they realized that the timing was still bad and it just wouldn't work for them either for a host of reasons. That gave me the go ahead to search for an acceptable family for my sweet (sometimes crazed) hound dog.
I knew it was out there... the kind of situation I dream of; a house in the country, a pack of mismatched dogs, wide open spaces, free time, and patience for a puppy. I would find him the perfect situation or I would keep him and somehow make it all work. I followed lead after lead, some seemed so promising, only to turn into dead ends. Who knew it would be so hard to give away a puppy to a decent home? Let me tell you, it was hard. I refused to put him on Facebook, even though I knew that's how I could reach the masses the quickest, I just didn't want to have to sort through more dead ends. Finally, after three weeks of exhausting all other options, I put him on Facebook. And yes, it brought a lot of attention. But it also got me in contact with his forever home.
Hooray! A suitable option for Hitch had manifested. I should've known that not even this part was going to be easy, even questionable at first, when the family's young son had a horrible allergic reaction to what they thought was Hitch. They desperately wanted to keep him but knew they couldn't if their son was allergic to him. I was in limbo for almost seventy-two hours waiting to hear word, one way or the other. Again, I was an emotional fucking wreck. It was an emotional roller coaster unlike any I'd ever experienced or hope to experience again! Up, down, happy, sad, tears, laughter-- straight crazy train. Finally, I got word. Their son had eaten poison ivy. Halle-fucking-lujah! I mean, I'm sure he'll never do it again and this was fantastic news. They could keep Hitch!
Hitch lived in our home for five weeks. It will take much longer to move on. To say that there is a void would be an understatement. I will miss his soft oversized hound ears, his big dark eyes, his tail, his baying bark, his spark. I won't miss his sharp puppy teeth or the evil bitch Pippin was in his presence. FYI- she was back to her "normal" self the minute I walked through the door from dropping him off. She totally knew. I cried when we put away his crate, I still get super emotional just thinking about him. He left his mark in puppy teeth engravings on just about everything we own. I laugh every time I discover a new one. We learned so much from him and are so glad that we had the opportunity to nurse him back to health and prepare him for his new family. It is comforting to know, that despite the void we feel, he is exactly where he needs to be. Godspeed, my sweet Hound-ie. I miss you more than you know. Hitch will always be your better name and what we shared together. Oreo is who you are to them.
Please understand that it was never about not wanting Hitch. My experience raising an active, hunting dog (Pippin) taught me so much. I almost immediately recognized in Hitch that we were incapable of providing the environment that he DESERVED. Sure we could have made it work but that would have been selfish of us and not honoring his spirit.