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LJ Idol: Puppy Love

[this is a re-post of an entry previously posted to my LJ for LJ Idol Week 14's prompt was "twitterpaited".]

I’ve always disliked dogs. Dislike feels like it’s too weak of a word, but hate is too strong, so let’s say I strongly disliked dogs. Maybe a large dog tried to jump on me when I was little, maybe a dog bit me, maybe it was just their loud bark or being growled at, but I have never liked dogs and have always been scared of large dogs.

Until the day I met my in-laws dog, Ebony. Ebby was a large, black Alsatian who weighed more than me and was taller than me if she was up on her hind legs and by all means I should have been afraid of her…but she was soft as butter. I was nervous the day Tim took me over to meet his parents and their dog because I knew I didn’t like dogs, and I was worried that this would come out, or that Ebby would somehow be able to sense my fear and do something. Ebby was a beauty. She softly nudged my hand with her nose and wanted me to pet her between her ears, and then she laid down on the floor next to the chair I was sitting in as if to say “right, you’ll do”.

I spent many afternoons walking Ebby with my mother-in-law. Sometimes with Tim or my sister-in-law, but often it was just the two of us walking around the farmer’s fields in the village with Ebby. My mother-in-law didn’t use a lead with Ebby, as Ebby would always respond to commands and never acted up. She even permitted the school children who called her a “wolf” to fuss her and would always sniff the dogs we walked past, but rarely barked at them, even if they barked at her first!

A few months after I moved, my in-laws went away on a holiday and didn’t take the dog with them. My sister-in-law was staying behind, but she would be at work during the day and they didn’t want to leave Ebby alone all day, so I was asked if I could take care of her. I would need to go over to their house mid-morning to let Ebby out, bring her back to our house, take her on her afternoon walk, and then bring her back home. I was nervous. What if the dog didn’t respond to my commands? What if she ran away from me? What if she snapped at another dog, a child, or me?

I didn’t have to worry. Ebby and I walked down to the end of our street and all I had to say to her was “wait” and she stopped before going into the street. I told her “sit”, and her bottom went to the ground. “Go on, girl” was her signal that it was okay to cross the street, and “are you a thirsty dog?” gave her permission to jump into the beck (US: stream) and have a drink and a swim if the water was deep enough. We would go around the fields and the village church and Ebby was always by my side as soon as I called her to me. She followed me around he house all day, trying to squeeze herself into the small rooms until it was time for her afternoon walk, and her return home. Once we got home, she would flop herself onto the living room rug and be content until my sister-in-law came home to feed her dinner.

Many days my mother-in-law’s visit would be announced by Ebby nudging the front door open if it was ajar. I would turn around from washing my dishes and there she was a full five minutes ahead of my mother-in-law because all you had to say to her was “go to Tim’s” and she would start walking over to our house.

I fell in love with the big black dog and would often offer to take Ebby on her walks to give my mother-in-law a break. Evenings spent with my in-laws always included the dog. She would walk around from person-to-person getting petted and fussed over before settling herself in a corner.

Sadly, Ebby is no longer with us. A few months ago the vet found lumps in her leg that turned out to be cancerous and Ebby was put down a few days after Christmas. We were all saddened by the news and I sobbed into Tim because we had just seen Ebby two days before at the family Christmas celebration and we all thought she was okay.

My in-laws have a new dog. She also is a German Shepherd, but her colouring is different and her manner is different to that of Ebby. Bonny (the new dog) is two-years-old and hasn’t had much training from her old owners, so she sometimes scares me when she tries to jump at me or bark, but I am willing to try to get to know Bonny for Ebby’s sake. If I could fall in love with Ebby, surely I can give Bonny a chance.

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