Apparently though, the comment about a short-haired dog changed husband’s mind, and triggered a visit by the two of them to the humane society. Where, of course, daughter immediately fell in love with a cute little beagle we now know as Chloe. After a visit to the vet to get shots and spayed, husband brought Chloe home on Jan. 6, 2010.
This was a pretty big change for all of us, having a dog in the house. I grew up on a dairy farm where we almost always had cats and a dog, but they curled up in the barn. Pets were not allowed in the house. As an adult homeowner, I’d often comment about how I wouldn’t mind a dog, but it would have to be an outside dog. Problem was, we didn’t have a barn and the garden shack wasn’t fit for a dog to spend frigid Wisconsin winter nights in. So, getting a dog meant he/she would have to stay in the house.
Turns out it isn’t be the hassle I thought it might be. Chloe was shy the first couple nights, but it didn’t take long before she adapted to her surroundings – and attached herself to our hearts. We taught her to sit, shake, roll over and a few other tricks, like knocking on the patio door when she wanted to come in from outside. For almost five years, she had the run of our 1 1/4–acre lot thanks to an invisible dog fence. She loved chasing birds and bunnies and squirrels, and barking at the joggers, bicyclists and visitors. She loved running through the snow, snout down gathering the white snuff on her nose then tossing it aside. During the (Wisconsin) hot summers, she’d lie beneath the shade trees, watching the kiddos next door swim in their pool.
When we started packing up the house last summer to make the move from Wisconsin to Texas, I could tell Chloe knew something was going on. She constantly followed us from room to room, not wanting to let me or daughter out of her sight. When we’d leave the house, she always wanted to go with us, almost like she wasn’t sure if we were coming back. Previously, she’d just go sit on her blanket on the couch and wait for us to return.
The day the movers came she was totally confused. I felt so bad for her – she just kept running from room to room, which all kept getting emptier and emptier. Every time she went outside and the door to a car or truck opened, she jumped in, making sure she wouldn’t be left behind if, indeed, this was the time that everyone left and didn’t come back.
She was amazing on the three-day car trip to Texas, especially given the car was crammed and she didn’t have much space to curl up in. Every once in a while she would put her front paws on the armrest between the two front seats and watch what was going on, just seeming content that she wasn’t left behind. We had zero problems with her at the hotels we stayed in along the way.
For the first couple weeks in Texas, we rented a house until the one we were buying was ready. When we did all have to leave the rental, we’d put Chloe in her kennel. I felt horrible because I’m sure she wondered if we were coming back, but what else could we do? After returning from one of our little mini-trips, she had tipped the kennel on its side and was whimpering inside. I thought she was just scared, but a few days later when we were moving into the new house, she started favoring her back, tensing up and didn’t want us to pet her. She was walking slow, would wince when she tried to jump on the couch and barely ate. We found a vet, who said she probably had pinched a nerve and the swelling was causing the discomfort. After 10 days’ worth of steroids and no jumping or steps (in a two-story house), she was pretty much back to normal.
I say pretty much because it took about another month for her to get used to her surroundings and understand that we weren’t leaving her there – we were coming back when we had to go somewhere. She hardly slept the first week (the back pain added to this I’m sure), and woke us up often whining. She peed in almost every room of the house, which I’m sure was just her way of telling us she was unhappy or afraid because she didn’t really know what was happening. We had, after all, been in three different house in the span of a month. It was hard on us humans, how could it NOT be hard on poor Chloe?
Now, four months later, Chloe has pretty much settled into her new surroundings. She chases birds in our much smaller back yard and barks at the many neighborhood dogs. She loves going on walks or taking car rides with us, but she’s gotten used to staying home by herself, too. Sometimes even, instead of greeting daughter at the door after school, she just stays on the couch and waits for the attention to come to her.
She’s home. And I think she knows it.