Introductions are in order I suppose. I am a mild mannered… wait, I have never been mild mannered, so let’s back up. I am a free thinking, activist, scientist with artistic tendencies, former park ranger who recently retired from a couple of decades teaching middle schoolers. (Somebody has to help them get through those years with a steady hand and a lot of laughter). I love nature, photography, gardening, reading and writing. I have a bit of wanderlust and love to travel both near and far. But most of all I love dogs. I am fond of cats and even live with several but I am what people refer to as “a dog person”. Right now, I love one dog in particular… one very large, very goofy, gentle soul with a ferocious bark who is my near constant companion… Sirius, the gigantic galoot affectionately known in our house as The Beast. Welcome to my life with The Beast.
The Beast came to us at 7 or 8 weeks of age. He was formerly known as Badger by the kind rescue folks at Trooper’s Treasures, a rescue outfit near Ootelwah, Tennessee. His mother was mostly a Labrador retriever and by the markings he and his 3 brothers displayed it was believed that Badger/Sirius/Beast’s other half was most likely Australian shepherd or border collie. The Beast took after the lab side of the family, a snuggly black ball of puppy fuzz with a speckled white chest patch, little white toes and a wisp of white at the tip of his tail.
This was the summer of 2016 and I had been almost two years without a dog for the first time in my life. We’d lost our last canis familaris, a gangly giant of a golden retriever Thanksgiving week 2014. Heartbroken and knowing we were planning to move the next spring and having taken over the care of Irving a wonderful Main coon cat with a heart condition was enough of a responsibility of love. Irv was also really a dog in cat pajamas so it was almost like having a dog, almost. Frankly, I just couldn’t open myself up to the vulnerability of loving another dog. The sadness of saying goodbye still lingered. I was getting too old for that kind of hurt. When Irv left us during the Spring of 2015 we found ourselves selling and leaving our very quiet mini farm with a very full pet cemetery and moving to the city near the foothills of the southern Appalachian Mountains.
Trying the life of a freelance artist and urban subsistence gardener whose husband was on the road more often than not left me with a bit of unease. The sirens and occasional sounds of gunshots, all too common in my new life in the city, were a bit disconcerting. Neighborhood app reports of break-ins made me long for the days when our pack of goldens warned us of anything strange in our rural previous life. It was time. I was ready. I wanted, no, I needed a dog.
Pet Finders served my daughter well when finding Irving and her current calico Calliope so that is where I started my search. I’d found that going to look at shelters was too overwhelming even though I knew I wanted to rescue a homeless pup. Particularly a black one since statistically black dogs and cats have a much lower adoption rate than animals of other colors. Within minutes of logging on I found the litter of 2 black with white speckles and 2 white with black speckles puppies. They were not far from us and they were ready for their forever homes. A quick email discourse with Trooper’s Treasures and I had an appointment to meet Badger and his other black brother Bacon at Petco the next day, just so we could take a look. You know how the rest of that story goes. One look into those dark puppy eyes and I had a new soul mate. Adoption papers were signed. A donation to Trooper’s Treasures was made in appreciation for the wonderful rescue work they do and we left cradling a nervous but curious ball of black fuzz. After bantering about many solid, regal, classical names with my daughter I chose the name Sirius for my little dog star.