A year earlier, our beloved, allergy-ridden, dumb-as-a-box-of-rocks, Labrador had passed away. Opus. The canine by which all others would be judged. Opus was our gold standard in the pooch procurement category.
That being said, I was played. By my wife! By a friend! And lastly, by a dog. Her name was Mavis, and she waltzed right in, and stole our hearts. Well, stole Katy’s, maybe. My heart was a stone. I had no reason to take in a dog I hadn’t chosen.
Of course, that was of no concern to anyone but me. I am a good soldier. Did I mention my wife scares me? So, without anymore discussion, it was decided. We were going to foster a dog. My wife should be Speaker of the House! Oh, wait a minute. Technically, she is!
The back story of our ‘foster’ pooch was sad, but true. Abuse. And abandonment. Those two things that should never happen to children, those who cannot defend themselves, and animals. What was done to our soon-to-be-adopted pooch, shouldn’t happen to, well, a dog.
Mavis came under the watchful eye of the good folks at the Copper Country Humane Society when she was found chained to a tree on their property. Mavis, not one to be tied down, promptly escaped and led them on a merry chase up and down US 41, weaving in and out of traffic, daring anyone to catch her.
Several hours later, having burned off enough energy to light Mid-town Manhattan, she finally found her way back to the kennel, allowing herself to be caught. Those trying to catch her, and keep her from causing a pile-up on US 41, may have looked upon that a wee bit differently. Not, I'm sure, what anyone had it mind when they had their first cup of java in the morning, whilst planning their day.
Mavis, I'm sure, felt the same way.
Immediately she switched gears and began to give birth to a small army of adorable puppies, and settled into being a stay-at-kennel mom. She and her brood were transferred to the North Woods Pet Lodge, where they would begin a new life, free of cruelty. Unfortunately, Mavis was as weak as her puppies, and they needed to be weaned early, so mom could regain her strength.
That's where we came into the story.
When our beloved pooch, Opus, was running our lives, he was kennelled at the North Woods Pet Lodge. Yes, the very same kennel. The kennel where Mavis and her pups were shacked up. The owners, Lynn and Darren, shot Katy an email, relaying the situation. She asked if we were interested in either fostering her, or taking the plunge and adopting her. We had mourned Opus for a year. Perhaps it was time.
That thought, by the way, was the argument made for adoption. By one of the few women I believed, wrongly, I could say no to. Then it was reinforced by another woman I can't say no to. Mom. I was outmanoeuvred before I knew I had the right of first refusal. (I've been told many times, for various reasons, that I can always say no. Of course, that's meaningless when my mind has been made up for me!)
After being thoroughly brow-beaten, in the nicest possible way, into accepting the inevitable, we began preparing for the the newest addition to our fur-family. That included buying dog food, preparing an area where she could curl up and sleep, and hopefully, feel safe.
Naturally, the cats would not be informed of our decision until Mavis bounded through the front door, anxious to meet her new sisters. Needless to say, Pinky and Crab E. had the same right of refusal I had. But, in my favour, there was the small amount of joy I would receive after seeing their freaked out expressions, as they tucked tail and ran. I did sleep with one eye open for about a week, but it was worth it!
The day did come, and we picked up Mavis up at North Woods Pet Lodge. Where Lynn, owner, proprietor, and notorious animal lover, was boarding Mavis and her pups. It was there that Mavis would nurse her wee babies (who were no longer 'wee', at this stage of the game), under the watchful eye of Lynn and her small entourage of permanent four-legged homies. This small, but tight-knit group became the closest thing Mavis would have to family, until we arrived.
The adoption went smoothly, even over the loud objection of the cats. Mavis only bolted for the woods behind the house once, that during her her first day home. I'm pretty certain the cats had something to do with that, can't be 100 percent certain though.
And that's how a slightly neurotic, jumpy, paranoid, black lab came to be part of our lives.
For nine years, Mavis was a fixture in our happy home. We always knew when someone was coming down the driveway, or walking along the roadside. When the neighbour girls came to sell pizza kits and Girl Scout cookies to raise money, or come to trick or treat, Mavis stood guard. And barked, and barked and barked. At one point, she was simply known by the kids as "barky" dog. Did I mention she despised the UPS man? Yep, hated him.
Unfortunately, time took it's toll on our big, beloved lab. She was most likely four or five when we took her in. So, by the time she moved on to that big kennel in the sky, she was close to 13 years old, or more! Not bad. Not bad at all. But the time had come to let her go.
And so it came to pass, that Mavis left us.
I was ill-prepared. She not only outlived two cats, she indoctrinated two more into our household before she passed. Critters, large and small, now walk through our yard without impunity, knowing there is no one to challenge them. Cars and people whiz and walk by, without my ever knowing.
The silence is deafening.
Blogger's note: Charlie, one of Mavis' pups, is living a healthy and happy life with the parents of the notorious kennel owner!-js