One artist's journey: Trying to live a creative life with grace, grit, gratitude...and a border collie.
(or perhaps I should say: greys, grit and gratitude)

24 October 2012

Soul Dog

After the death of the remarkable little Italian Greyhound that followed my EVERY footstep for 18 years...I was thinking I would not have another dog for a LONG time (if ever).

When I faced cancer, though...I knew I needed a dog.

Ever since seeing "Down and Out in Beverly Hills", I have wanted a mostly white border collie with black spots...and, in particular, a black patch over one eye like "Matisse".

With the wonders of modern technology at my fingertips, I dove into the internet and started searching shelters in the region. I looked at photos and profiles of every "used" dog in Montana and the surrounding states. Nowhere could I find "the" dog that matched what I wanted.

Over and again though, I kept coming back to a little nondescript black border collie cross named "Newt".

Still stubbornly looking for my "dream dog", I visited the shelter here in town, then called a breeder ad in the paper...and finally went over to Bozeman to see Newt.
I cannot say what it was about him...he didn't do anything bad...but he didn't do anything particularly good either. He did not bound up to me like a long lost friend and lick my face as fireworks went off. He came over, quietly said "hi" and then explored the room like any old dog. Somehow I knew, though.

Before taking the plunge, I wanted Ray to meet him and he would be working until Friday...so I asked the shelter if they would hold Newt until then (it was Wednesday). They agreed.

Shortly after I arrived home in Livingston, the phone rang...it was the shelter and someone wanted to adopt Newt. They told me that they were not supposed to hold Newt without a deposit. I explained that no one mentioned deposit to me and I would have happily paid one if they did.  They said "sorry".   I argued...making the point that I was trying to do the right thing and have the other household member meet him first. It took a couple of desperate phone calls and pleading with different staff members before they finally (albeit grudgingly) agreed to hold him until fifteen minutes after they opened on Friday ("NO later than that"). We showed up fifteen minutes before they opened...

Curious to see what Newt did when left on his own, I insisted we sneak in and "spy" on him. I did not want a barker...or a dog who neurotically paced nonstop when left alone. As we came around the corner, there was Newt...quietly sitting in the far end of his kennel with his back to us.

When I called him he limped over (he'd hurt his foot running outside), snuggled against the wire and started whimpering.

Ray said "NOPE, I will NOT have a whiny dog".
Ray never had a chance...he lost that battle before it even began.

A few minutes later, we were headed to Petsmart with Newt in the back seat. Little did we know that the whimpering was just a hint of the singsong vocalization that would be Newt's signature...

Many of you know Newt...so you know that there is no possible way to describe this special little soul in a reasonable number of words.

Newt makes everyone smile. He seems to worm his way into the hearts of every person, every creature, he meets.

He isn't just "my" dog.

In my opinion,
Newt belongs to the whole world.

He needs to be shared so he can touch and heal the hearts of as many people as possible.

Maybe this story about him says it best:
A couple of years ago at the Natureworks Show in Tulsa, Newt was sleeping in my booth while I sat in a director's chair on the opposite side of the aisle. Two kids, a boy about six and a slightly older girl, came into the booth.  The girl instantly flopped down by Newt and, to his delight, started cooing over him. The boy carefully petted him then came over to lean on the arm of my chair...he looked very serious. So I asked: "Do you have something to say to me?"
The boy replied "Yes. I do."

He gestured toward Newt and continued: "THAT dog is not a REAL dog...that dog is a SOUL dog". His Mother and I asked simultaneously "What do you mean by that?" He rolled his eyes at our apparent lack of common sense and said "WELL...a real dog is JUST a dog on the outside...but a soul dog is special on the INSIDE". That about sums up Newt:  Soul Dog.
Finding Newt was another lesson in listening to my heart and looking beyond the surface. Newt was nothing like the "dream dog" I was determinedly looking for. There was no spark of recognition (on either part) when we met, no "Oh my God, he's perfect", nothing notable at all about our first meeting...there was just a quiet voice that whispered "this is the one". Thank goodness I listened...
Newt might not have been the dog I thought I wanted on the outside...but he was the soul dog I needed on the inside.