A tale of two dogs

Lovely Stella

My girlfriend Anne and I first lived together back in the early 90s. We wanted a dog, and got a purebred Schipperke from a breeder in Washington state. Lucy was a cute puppy, the runt of the litter. Due to poor training, socialization and possibly some inbreeding, she grew into a tiny terror. During the 14-1/2 years that I knew her, she bit just about everyone who ever loved her, including both Anne and me. Her behavior (along with Anne’s enabling of said behavior) caused some  major rifts in our relationship, and when Lucy finally passed on five years ago, I felt an immense sense of relief.

I occasionally dream about Lucy, and more often than not, the dreams are pleasant. Over the years, I’ve even talked with her via my animal communicator, Tracy Ann. And although Lucy is still her self-important little diva self, she is no longer confused, growly and insecure.

In one recent dream, I was outside somewhere looking at some stranger’s two Schipperkes. They were both female dogs. One of them was growling at me as I looked at her, but the second dog had her ears down and was looking up at me sweetly. After I woke up, I assumed the two dogs represented the two sides of temperamental Lucy.

After moving into our condo, Anne knew she wanted to have a dog again. The last couple of months she has been diligently checking Craigslist, petfinder.com, and various rescue and breeder websites, hoping to find a small dog that would be good with the cats. She wasn’t sure exactly what type of dog she wanted. She prefers the Spitz-looking breeds (dogs like the American Eskimo, Pomeranians, Schipperkes, etc.), but was also trying to be open to mixed breeds as well. She thought she would try to get a rescue dog first, and then go with a breeder if all else failed.

A couple of months ago there was a Schipperke named Lila up for adoption in Burlington, WA. Anne was very interested in meeting her, but I was less enthusiastic. The website said that Lila could be aggressive if she felt cornered. I have met a few nice Schips over the years, but Lucy had really soured me on the breed, and I was not up for another decade of dealing with a problem dog. However, I decided to be open-minded. We rented a car one Sunday and headed out to the shelter.

When we arrived, Lila was out in one of the yards with other potential parents, so we busied ourselves looking at other dogs. By the time she came back in, we were standing at the front counter. One of the shelter workers told us that Lila had arrived, and an elderly woman (a visitor, not staff, although this was not clear at the time) handed Lila’s leash to Anne. Anne was busy filling out an application, so she handed the leash to me. I knelt down and offered Lila my hand for  a sniff, which she did but without much interest. I stroked her lightly on the back. When I glanced up to see how Anne was doing, Lila suddenly decided to bite me twice in the arm. Obviously, this adoption was not going to happen. What was even worse was the indifference of the staff. No one other than Anne asked if I was all right or if I needed a bandage. Instead, a staff member and one of the visitors began telling me how I have to let Schips approach me on their own. Hello, that’s what I thought I was doing. Not a Schip newbie here. All in all, an aggravating experience to be sure.

So last Saturday, when Anne and I went to meet another Schipperke who was posted on Craigslist, I was even less enthusiastic. Her caretaker (a nice guy who was rehoming her for a friend who had taken a job in Hawaii) introduced us to a 10-year-old female named Skippy (not the best name for a Schip, by the way).  Skippy let out two soft barks when she saw us, then fell silent as she took to checking us out scent-wise. We stroked her glistening black fur and Anne was quickly smitten. I was a bit more cautious, but since Skippy did not exhibit anything even remotely resembling aggressive behavior, I left it up to Anne to decide if she came home with us. Of course Anne said yes.

Skippy, who we renamed Stella, quickly made herself at home in our large condo, and by the second day had pushed herself into my heart too. When I returned from a breakfast outing on Sunday morning, she greeted me like a long-lost companion, leaning against me and whimpering softly as I massaged her. Later that day we took her to the vet for what we thought was a skin condition; turned out she had a rather bad case of fleas. When the vet examined her, Stella tried to pull away. I had to hold her with both hands to restrain her; she’s a strong dog for her size. During the entire time, she never growled or snapped at anyone. She was also friendly and curious to the various people and dogs in the waiting room. During the days that followed, Anne was able to move Stella’s dish while she was eating and confiscate a pork chop bone Stella had snatched from the garbage. Never once did she growl or show her teeth.

If someone watched the three of us through our window, they would think Stella had lived with us since her puppyhood. I thought back on my dream about the two Schips, the first growly, the second sweet. They seemed to symbolize Lucy and Stella, or perhaps Lila and Stella–as if telling me the first Schip would not be the one.

Prior to meeting both Lila and Stella, I asked Legba for his assistance in finding the right dog, Legba being the consummate dog person. While I did not enjoy getting bitten by Lila, I was grateful that we saw her true nature before bringing her home. She might have injured one of the cats. At the very least, we would have had to drive  her all the way back to Burlington. Sometimes we receive the answers we need, just not always in the way we would like to. I never thought we’d have another Schipperke, and certainly not one with such a loving and gentle temperament. I was grateful for Legba’s help, and wanted to buy him a new dog statue for his altar. I ended up buying a wolf statue instead; a miniature version of the Roman wolf statue that was mentioned in the film “Blood and Chocolate.” I felt it was appropriate, as Stella seems to nurture both Anne and me. Anne is happier now that she has a dog again.

As for me, Stella is replacing my prior bad experiences with the breed with very loving ones. Over the weekend, I felt a shift in my solar plexus chakra, as though an old negative energy had been released. Since Stella’s arrival, the entire condo is infused with joy.

My spiritually oriented friends always tell me that there are no accidents. Two other people were supposed to meet Stella before us, and both of them were no shows (unbelievable, considering she was listed in the ad as AKC and free to good home). We still can’t believe this wonderful little spirit now lives with us.




2 Responses to “A tale of two dogs”

  1. This is a very entertaining story! True, Lucy bit everyone she loved–wasn’t personal. She was used to getting away with it.
    After Lucy passed, I thought I’d never be allowed to get another schipperke again. As time went on, you were open to the breed as long as I agree to take necessary steps for training. I was prepared to hire a personal dog trainer in case the next “Lucy” arrives. Skippy/Stella is so sweet! What a relief!
    Love, Anne

  2. Hi there! Stella is co cute! I love her big dark eyes! My little puppy Chewy likes to bite and growl as tiny as he is! LOL

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