The Mud Kingdom

A magical place, an independent spirit.

Hamburger Heart: Part 7

The Dog

A week after I left, the shelter manager called me to let me know that Marcie did well at the vet and her cough had improved. I returned to the shelter to pay for the vet and pay Marcie a visit. This time the shelter was full of dogs. When I released Marcie from her cage she flew simultaneously in all directions to snarl and bark at certain other dogs, saliva and fur flying everywhere as cages rattled. I pushed her quickly to the door and she flew outside, pacing the fence in the yard, coughing, and eyeing a chance to escape.

I tried to get her attention and received none. Eventually she picked up a ball I bounced in her direction only to spit it out and walk away. When she looked like she was mostly done standing outside, I walked over to the door and opened it, prompting her to turn around and head inside. She once again antagonized several of the other dogs but she went to her cage and stepped in on her own. More time in a shelter wouldn’t do her any favors, her skills from surviving alone in the mountains doing her a disservice around other pets and the suburbs. I told her I thought she was more of a “Maggie” and her ears flopped.

So I decided to take her home. The first thing I did was to take her to the pet store, tell the employees about her history as an escape artist, and let them properly fit her with a harness. The first thing she did was fly out of the harness with both great force and reckless abandon, then sprint out into the neighborhood completely out of sight for half an hour. When she returned she flew by me going the other way up the street. Fifteen minutes after that she ripped past me going back the first way she escaped. It dawned on me that she was actually coming back to me just a little closer each time to see what I’d do.

Fortunately, Maggie didn’t know I was crazy. The moment she got close enough I threw my entire body into her path, pummeling us both in a meaty thump of man-on-dog super collision. She was dazed for just barely long enough for me to get on top of her, throw her back into her harness, and drag her inside the house. I walked the inside with her to show her around. After she smelled everything, I took her back to the living room because I was very injured. For an hour I lay dying on the couch, hoping that the internal bleeding would stop before I ran out of internals to bleed into. She stood there, glaring at the walls, looking rather unhinged.

The rest of the day went about as well. I set a bowl of food down for her unevenly and it sat propped up on one side of the holder. When I reached to fix the bowl, Maggie’s teeth clamped down hard on my hand. I roared and lowered my face right down to the bowl to dare her to try it again. Blood ran down my hand as I held it behind my back and I could feel it running down my leg. Maggie demured and stepped back as I snatched the bowl away with my uninjured hand and walked off to deal with the injured one.

Fed, walked, and introduced to the house and its inhabitants, Maggie stood there. I was completely out of energy and parked on the couch, watching Maggie stare blankly at a corner of the room. After doing exactly that for ten minutes straight I found it unnerving and realized that I had to crate her in the evenings when we went to sleep. Rescues call the first week or so of adopting a dog the “honeymoon period.” Because everything is so new to the dog, a lot of their own behaviors and reactions are muted. The first time I put her in the crate she went more or less willingly, hiding yet another serious monster lurking in the shadows of her mind.

Bandaged, beaten up, and exhausted, I fell into a dark sleep. Maggie lay down in her crate stewing quietly in her repressed anxiety. I fell into the long night the same way as I had for the last couple weeks, wondering what my future would hold, if anything. The injuries I had sustained during the day would continue to bleed inside me for some time, forming painful sores, stiff joints, and make it harder for me to move the next day. I lost consciousness knowing that I would have to rise and take the dog outside first thing. I lifted my bandaged hand over my head and onto another pillow to keep it above my heart. The pain of dragging myself out of bed in the morning was not something I was looking forward to.