My wife and I are dog lovers. Always have been. We’ve adopted, bought, and even fostered dogs until we found them good homes.
Generally speaking, the last 17 years we have been parents to an average of about four fur babies at any one time. Call it our cure for empty nest syndrome. We have owned a myriad of small dogs: Boston Terriers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Poodles, or some odd mix of any of the above. All were small dogs.
However, two years ago, we embarked on a 7-hour journey to pick up our first Big Dog; a fearless dog, well-natured family dog, but a guard dog, nonetheless. We had just moved from the city to a one-acre plot in the middle of rural Ohio. It was time to upgrade dog size too, right?
Meet Delilah. She is a 77-pound brown and black brindle-colored, almost Bengal-tiger-in-pattern Bull Mastiff.
Let’s just say for those traits, she’s an underachiever. We expected 110 pounds of sentry duty, warding off nefarious doers at all hours of the night, and a protector from dangers yet unknown. What we have instead is the classic cartoon housewife jumping on top of the furniture who pulls up her skirt at the mere sight (or sound) of danger.
In the past, we have mostly rescued dogs from pounds and shelters. This time, our needs and wants were specific. We picked a dog online from a breeder. A specific breed of dog with specific traits. We found her. She was so adorable. For never having made a purchase of a “family member” online before, we tried to do our homework. We found a reputable breeder with terrific communication. Expensive? That’s relative. So, we made a deposit and eight weeks later we were on our road trip.
Things began to turn fishy when more than halfway through our journey the breeders asked us to meet them in the parking lot of a department store in their town for the pick-up. When we got there, it felt like one of those situations where “flash your headlights, let them know the deal is on.” When we picked up our new fur baby, the breeder said our baby bull had just gotten sick but was treated recently with some meds. My wife and I could tell immediately, holding her in our arms, feeling the puppy’s ribs so evidently, that she was also undernourished. We talked about this scenario on the car ride down when the suspect bait-and-switch pick-up location was changed. We paid good money and were driving so far to get exactly what we ordered – nothing less would do.
Reality set in. This is not the dog we ordered. Another reality: as dog lovers we were not returning a dog to a potentially abusive environment, no matter the cost. Did we get hoodwinked by a possible puppy mill? Possibly, but we needed to rescue her. We named her Delilah.
Delilah would soon become acclimated to her new family which included four Boston Terriers. She was at least their same size for a hot minute, and she fit in perfectly.
Delilah is the sweetest creature I have ever met. Is she built like a brick house? No, but she can be dense. Is she strong and stoic? No, but she can play a good game of tug-of-war with her sisters. Will she ward off intruders? Thank goodness, we don’t know. Is she an awesome guard dog? Nah, but she will stare out the window for hours and let us know when our neighbor Sheila walks out to get her mail.
You know who Delilah is? She is a gentle giant. She loves hugs and kisses and must be right in your face! She loves her toys, nurses them, and treats them with great care (unlike her smaller siblings). She likes to play with you even if you’re trying to work, tugging at your shovel or vacuum, and sticking her nose into your freshly painted fence! She loves to lay in our bed like a human, stealing the covers nightly! She comes to work with me daily, even if it is only working from home. She must have her nose in my business, or at least my lap (and laptop!).
More than anything, Delilah loves to go for car rides. Grab my keys and she’s ready to go. Put on my sneakers and she’s ready to go. Put on a hat and she’s ready to go. Stand up? Yes, she’s ready to go! Added to the enjoyment of going on car rides with Delilah is watching the curiosity and excitement in her face. And she is well-received by most everyone. She gets all the praise of a newborn in a baby stroller. She’s so cute, so adorable. And she can work it! When it comes to fast food drive-thru, I’ve never seen someone leverage her appearance for favor as much as her. She’s such a mooch.
Sounds like I’m in love. Maybe I am. My wife shakes her head in disbelief, but in happiness as well. She has never seen me so enamored with a dog before like this. I know Delilah needs me and depends on me. But she is also my constant companion, and a true joy. She is my safe harbor in a world of uncertainty.
Question is: did I rescue Delilah, or did she rescue me?