Dog Days of Summer

By Diane DeVaughn Stokes

Dog Days of Summer

I have always heard the term “Dog Days of Summer” and knew it had to do with the hottest time of the year which supposedly is a result of the Dog Star “Sirius” and its placement in the heavens near the sun. That was all I knew, until this summer.

Then it happened. Our lives were forever changed by one short phone-call. One moment in time that took our normally organized life and set it in a “tail” spin. Sometimes I wake up and think I have dreamed the entire thing.

And then I feel her licking my face.

Yes, it’s our first dog. As most of you know who read Sasee regularly, we have two beautiful rescue cats, Tosca and Sonya, we dearly love. We have had cats our entire married life, as Chuck was kind enough to adopt my four felines thirty-one years ago when he married me. It was a package deal. Friends referred to us a “cat people,” a term I have always hated because we love dogs too, but we never owned one because we work full-time and love to travel.

Sadly, an elderly friend in Florence, whom I have known for forty-five years, had some health issues which forced him to move to a retirement complex. He was unable to take his adorable dog Cagney, a Border-Collie- Australian Shepherd mix, and no one in his family could take her either. We have spent time with Bill and Cagney over the years and knew she had the sweetest temperament and disposition. So, when Bill’s sister called and asked us if we would consider taking Cagney for a trial-run to see if she would get along with the cats, I said yes, knowing how much Chuck and I both loved her from our first meeting and agreed to pick her up the next day.

I knew Cagney had a sad start in life. Bill’s daughter found her and another dog wandering a parking lot and took them home, naming them Cagney and Lacey. However, Cagney did not like the other two dogs in the household, so Bill’s daughter convinced Bill to take her to live with him while she kept Lacey. Cagney thrived on being the only dog in the household and adored Bill who fed her table scraps and weekly steak dinners.

When I arrived to pick her up, she recognized me and gave me a few kisses, but I could tell she was incredibly sad, missing Bill for the past four weeks, mopping around his empty bedroom waiting for his return and wondering what her next life would be like.

Little did she know she was going home with me. Bill’s sister had sweetly prepared a doggie care package: dog food, dog bowls, leash, toys and her favorite blanket was freshly laundered and smelled brand new. When it was time to head back to the beach, I asked Cagney if she wanted to go home with me. She seemed to understand and went to the door and followed me to my car. I actually could see a smile on her face. My mom had ridden with me, and we were both thrilled at how eager Cagney was for her new adventure.

Yes, I knew the cats would be furious when I got home. They were simply appalled, totally disappointed in me and threatened to run away from home. Okay, I imagined the last part. I had brought home turtles, fish and even two bunnies in the past but never a dog! They hid under the bed for over a week, sneaking out to grab a bite to eat and use the litter box when Cagney wasn’t looking. And yet, as the weeks went by they would sneak out and hiss at Cagney who was more afraid of them than they were of her, sending her scurrying into my lap for protection. Keep in mind this isn’t a lap dog. She weighs fifty pounds!

They soon recognized that they had the upper hand and ruled the house. They have not started playing together, but they all sleep in the sunroom while we are at work, watching the birds and squirrels frolic outside. Just yesterday, the cats allowed Cagney to enter our bedroom for the first time where she slept on the floor next to the bed, while the cats slept at the foot of the bed. They have each found their space and safe haven, and there is peace in the valley.

However, life as we knew it is over. There have been walks in the dead heat twice a day; let’s hope we lose some weight. We have made the rounds to the doggie spa and the doggie park on our precious days off from work, neither of which she likes. She finds other dogs to be obnoxious and does not like all that butt smelling stuff.

I have come to learn she does not like chewing on bones or antlers like other dogs, but prefers dried cow or pig’s ears from the pet store. At first I thought they were just made to look like them and grossed out when I realized they are the real thing. We live on a lake, and Cagney is afraid to go near it, but loves drinking water from the hose or sprinkler in the yard. Go figure! And after taking up residence with us, we have yet to hear her bark. She talks to us with a slight howl when she first sees us in the morning, but seems to love everyone who comes to our door and prefers to lick them rather than protect us.

Frankly, she is the perfect first dog for us. She’s gentle and affectionate, and as you can tell, we simply adore her. She has changed our life, but for the better. She came to us in the “Dog Days of Summer” and like the “Dog Star” and its placement in the heavens adding warmth to the earth, Cagney, our “Dog Star” has added warmth to our home and to our hearts.

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One Response to “Dog Days of Summer”

  1. Diane, Your sweet dog is so fortunate to have you. Many happy tail wagging years of memories to you.

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