I have a dog named Haley. She’s an “English Cream” golden retriever. We also have Troy who is a regular golden retriever although huge at 100 pounds. So maybe not so regular. Troy and I are bonded at the hip, thank god. I paid a fortune for Haley as she is supposedly “ring trained and pure bred” both of which mean nothing to me. I was, at the time, frantic to try and replace a female dog named Rosie. Rosie was a Catahoula, a breed that is not recognized by AKC, maybe because it’s in their DNA to be very aggressive. It’s been YEARS and this is the first time I’ve had the strength to write about Rosie. I’m crying as I write.
Rosie and I were soul mates. I know animals well and I know the really intelligent ones domestic or in captivity need what is called “enrichment”. It is creating things the animals can do to use their innate skills, intelligence, ingenuity and natural tendencies. Just like the Chimps and gorillas at the zoo, of whom I’m an amatuer expert and volunteer to speak about their intelligence, relationships, behaviors, etc., very smart domestic animals need it, too. Rosie was so darn smart, I knew she needed it. When I took her to agility training for the first time the trainer was astounded.
“Oh, so you are very experienced working together in agility.” I said, “No, this is the first time we’ve ever done agility but we are soul mates and we get each other.” She couldn’t believe it.
I had so many close calls with Rosie in aggressive situations. She would over power me even when I had her on leash. She just wanted to attack everything! (She adored me and was protective and completely loving toward me.) And she was capable of it and seemed to be looking for it. I was filled with anxiety constantly and knowing there was a legal liability if she ever did anyone harm. But also knowing I couldn’t keep her if she continued this aggression! It was torture. Finally, at a lunch I had at my house for some women friends, she attacked and bit a woman. I knew that was the end.
The next morning, my husband and I cried together knowing that we had we had to put her down. Thank god we had the support of our friend Debbie Hartel who is an RN to help us through that. It was one of the most painful times in my entire life. I ADORED that dog and she adored me. I can’t wait to see her again at the rainbow bridge.
I asked my husband a year or so ago if he remembered how I sat on the chaise lounge in the bedroom where I used to be with Rosie in the evenings and cried for 3 months each night after she died. He said, “Andrea, you did that for a YEAR!”
Back to Haley. I never bonded with her. I think I resented her for not being Rosie. I have faked it for her sake. She is very loyal to me. Tonight, I looked in her innocent eyes and realized I need to just love her. So that’s what I’m going to do.
There’s Rosie in front of gorgeous Ryder.