Wednesday, January 08, 2014

louie's miracle

We have a dog.

His name is Louie.


We adopted Louie two years ago from an animal shelter in South Carolina, when we were visiting my mother for Thanksgiving. Here's how that played out ...

Scene: My mother is in her kitchen on Saturday morning preparing breakfast and she cheerfully says to her then seven-year-old and four-year-old grandchildren, "Children, I know what would be fun for us to do today!  How would you like to go play with puppies at the animal shelter?" The children erupted in to cheers and laughter as my husband and I grimaced at each other because THIS is how it starts: we're going to go "play" with puppies at the animal shelter. 


Something tells me we'll be puppy owners before the day is done.


It was just a matter of time. We were beginning to think we were ready for a new dog, and one of my mother's favorite pastimes is taking the kids to the animal shelter, so it was a perfect storm of sorts.

After holding every puppy in the animal shelter no less than three times, we chose an adorable little ball of fur that we named Louie, and we nearly chose his littermate, Lilly, too.  But Charlie stopped me in the nick of time because I obviously neglected to recall how challenging two dogs can be and how could I ever forget the pact we'd made that we'd NEVER own two dogs, at the same time, again?


So we come home with "only" Louie. And the first day I'd returned to work after adopting our pup, I was excitedly telling one of my co-workers that we'd adopted! a new! puppy! and he gave me a deadpan stare and said, "YOU ARE A $@%*ING IDIOT."  Then he went on to tell me that he'd adopted a puppy almost two years ago, and the past two years have been miserable and it was only within the past few weeks that he's begun to rethink his plan to drive the dog out to the middle of nowhere and drop it off.

"These past two years have been hell!! Do you hear me? HELL!" he exclaimed with wild eyes and frantic hand gestures.

Ha ha ha, I laughed to myself. That was "his" experience ... that won't be "our" experience because we've owned dogs before and we know ALL about dogs. Ha ha ha!

Ha!  Look at our cute Louie puppy! 

Woof woof!


Things with Louie were great at first.  Or at least until the novelty of a little animal that poops all over the house started to wear off (give or take four weeks in). I'm sure we could have done a better job with the housebreaking, but we exerted our best effort with crate training, and walking, and rewards, and bells on the door and all that kind of stuff.  In hindsight, the fact that we were able to 98% successfully housebreak him by June (seven months after we brought him home) considering we also had four young children at home - who weren't fully housebroken themselves - was really a great accomplishment.  But then there were a number of things that happened that caused me worry, and for each thing that happened, I'd do my best to justify why it had happened. For example:
  • He growled at me when I got upset at him for licking butter off the counter.  In Louie's defense, I reacted much angrily than I should have; when he cowered under the table - I really shouldn't have chased him and kept yelling BAD DOG! (Also, BAD HUMAN.) 
  • He growled at William when my son pulled his tail.  Lesson learned, every action has a reaction. If you want the dog to be nice to you - be nice to the dog. 
  • He was hard to walk and would pull hard on his leash.  For the past several weeks, I've stopped focusing on our dog walking challenges and have been observing a lot of other dogs and what I've come to recognize is that until a dog is older (greater than 3 years old),  they're going to PULL on their leash, because that's what the vast majority of puppies do. And unless you've got a Bernese Mountain dog or some other giant canine, most dogs are puppies until they're 3. 
  • He nipped at our neighbor's puppy (and then aggressively chased him) when the puppy was relentlessly jumping all over him and biting his feet.  In hindsight, I should have stepped in and removed him from the situation when I saw that the puppy was annoying the kibble and bits out of Louie. It was obvious, I just ignored it - hoping he'd lighten up. He didn't. My fault. 
  • He pulled away from one of our neighbor's who was housesitting and went after another dog in the neighborhood. Come to find out a month later, our neighbor had hooked up his leash incorrectly, so when he gave the slightest pull to go see the other dog, his leash came off because she'd affixed it to his light-weight dog license and identification tag, not the heavier duty collar loop.  Also, a third party who witnessed the event, said that Louie didn't "go after" the other dog, they ran around in circles playing as dogs often do.   
There were a few other things, comparable things, that he'd do that would make us think we had an unpredictable dog on our hands.  So the night after I wrote this post, Charlie and I made the decision that he was not the right dog for us, and we need to get a big old Labrador retriever - a breed that we know and love. Despite Carolyn who fell asleep crying her eyes out, because she loves Louie so much that if we give him up, we need to give her up, too ... our minds were decided.   

I went to work the following morning, and Charlie packed for a business trip to California.  On his way to the airport, he swung by the shelter to drop Louie off.

But, when he arrived at the shelter, he noticed that the clock in his car read 11:45 and his plane was due to depart at 1:00.  There was absolutely no way that he'd be able to drop Louie off, fill out any necessary paperwork required for surrendering our animal,  drive to the airport - park - get to his terminal - go through security - and arrive at his gate in time.  So he called me and giving an exasperated sigh, explained that he couldn't do it today and it'd have to wait until he came back. Then he raced home, dropped Louie off, and hustled himself to the airport.

When he arrived at the airport and saw the big clock that read 11:30, he realized that he'd forgotten to set the clock back in his car for daylight savings time.  So in reality, he would have had plenty of time to drop the dog off at the shelter.

Plenty o' time. 

Now here's some interesting trivia.

Charlie has been dabbling quite a bit in the writings of Joel Osteen and is really aligning himself with the Christian faith. To the point that he looks forward to church every single week and never misses a service and has become very prayerful.  I mention this because Charlie is convinced, without a doubt, that it was absolutely meant to be that he didn't turn Louie over to the shelter that day.   He is certain that it was a sign from God that THIS IS YOUR DOG AND YOU ARE HIS PERSON.  AMEN. 

HALLELUJAH, Divine Intervention! 

Ever since that day,  Charlie (and me, to a lesser degree) has heaped a lot of love upon Louie. And Louie has responded in kind. Over the past two months, he has morphed in to the most mellow, amazing little dog.  He listens to commands and although will still wander under the table during dinner, is usually perched on his bed in front of the fireplace, or is beneath Carolyn's bed, fast asleep.  He has calmed down, considerably, and is a great, fun, happy little companion to have around.

When we were in Massachusetts last week, my brother and Donna told us that they'd really like to keep Louie. If we wanted to leave him, he would have a forever home on their farm.  But Charlie (and Carolyn who likely loves this dog more than any of us) said NO. And one evening when we drove back to my sister's home, we were amused to hear that my brother-in-law (not much of a dog lover) was sitting on the couch with Louie sound asleep in his lap.  In his words, "What? We were both doing each other a favor. I was keeping him company, and he was keeping my hands warm!"

This wasn't our first opportunity to give Louie away.  In fact, last month, when I was on a business trip in Puerto Rico, Charlie called me one night and told me that we'd had a big snowstorm in Virginia.  That day, they'd all been outside playing in the snow, when he realized that Louie was gone. For six hours, he looked for the dog.  When he'd called me that night, he was so distraught because he was certain he'd been hurt or frozen and would never come home, again.  And since we hadn't replaced his dog license and ID tags which came off when the neighbor affixed his leash incorrectly, even if someone had found him - they wouldn't know where he belonged.   So I suggested that he contact the animal shelter and lo and behold, there he was on their website.

Here's his mug shot:


Upon seeing his face on the internet, the thought raced through's Charlie's mind that just one month ago, he was trying to unload him at the shelter, and now, a mere 35 days later - there he was and that was the absolute last place on earth he should be. That was our dog and he needed to be home with us! So the family piled in to the car, braved a snowstorm to drive to the shelter, picked up Louie, and on the way home bought him a new bed and shiny pair of identification tags.

Today, Charlie took him to the vet and even the vet asked if this was the same dog that six months ago, we were considering giving up, and when Charlie said it was indeed the same dog, they wanted to know if he was still available because even people there wanted him.  Charlie said NO and then proceeded to drop several hundred dollars on vaccinations, heart worm and tick medicine. He also had a microchip installed so he'd never be lost again.

It would seem that Louie's here to stay.

And I've since let my co-worker know that he was spot-on. It took exactly two years.


  1. I am so glad it all worked out for Louie!

    And I am happy to hear that you did not give up on him!

  2. Congratulations! Louie is lucky to have found such a loving family even if it took him a while to figure that out, lol.

  3. I was wondering what happened after your November On-Brink post about him. I completely agree with Charlie that it was meant to be that he could not drop of Louie on the day he was headed out of town. His getting lost and ending up at the same shelter was just a confirmation of that. Louie's got some special angels working overtime to keep him safe and with your family. I am so glad things are FINALLY working out for all of you.

    I was wondering if he stayed with your relatives when I saw him getting along well in the pic with other dogs.

    While two dogs at one time might not work for your family, we will never be a one-dog family again. We were a one-dog family when our four kids were little. When Britt passed away, our twins were in 5th grade, one son was in third grade, and our youngest was in kindergarten. After a grieving period, we all went to the local shelter and adopted Josie, a mutt pup. About a week later, we went back and adopted Cinnamon, the last of Josie's littermates that was still at the shelter. Josie passed at the age of 14.5 from cancer. Shortly after, we adopted Grace, a 9-month-old husky, through a rescue group. Cinnamon didn't really care for her much, since Grace had a lot of puppy energy, but we made it work. My son moved back home for a while with his dog, Jackson, who is a 20-pound min-pin/JRT mix, and he and Grace wear each other out. So, for a short period of time, we had three dogs in our house. Cinnamon passed away last May at the age of 16. When my son moved out, he took Jackson with him, but Jackson didn't adapt very well to the move/being an only dog, and Grace seemed very lonely and depressed, so, for now, Jackson is back here until my son can move into a place with a yard and possibly a second dog.

    I don't know if we'll adopt another dog of our own in the future, but I definitely want to help rescue groups out by fostering dogs for them. It gives a dog a bit of time (a couple weeks or couple months) for the rescue group to find the perfect family for them, thereby saving its life, as it probably would not make it out of the shelter, due to lack of space, if rescues don't have foster families available. The same thing goes for cats.

    Thanks for the Louie update! That has made my day.
    Lesa in Wisconsin

  4. Interesting-two years, heh ?~! That seems a long time for a dog to become a reasonable member of the family but I guess if it gets you twelve or fifteen years of love and companionship and that kind of defense from Carolyn, it's worth it. Good luck, Louie, I hold you up to the Crate in the Sky and say a prayer for your continued success.

  5. What's up, my friend. Miss you...