From the series: Life on Dog Hill
I will never forget the first time I saw Hunter. Saved from an abusive owner, I spoke to his rescuer several times after reading her request for a “forever home” for him. I wanted another dog to keep my samoyed Kaiser company while I worked and my son was at school.
When we met in the parking lot of a nearby mall, I was surprised at how much bigger he was than I had expected. He was tall and long and, well, he was a hound dog! I scratched his ears, spoke gently and loaded him up in the back seat of the car. He was sitting in my lap before I got home in spite of my objections. I could barely see the road around his lanky body.
Hunter was a gentle spirit with a haunting past that left him emotionally scarred. He was terrified of the aluminum dog bowl so I fed him from a plate until I could get him a plastic bowl. He was terrified of the broom, mop and vacuum. He was terrified of loud noises and sudden movements. He had diarrhea the entire first week I had him and I couldn’t leave him outside alone because he would dig under the fence and try to run away. Somehow, we managed to survive that first week and he began to understand that his new home was a pretty good place. I worked hard to understand his fears and create an environment where he felt safe. Best of all, Kaiser and Hunter enjoyed each other’s company.
Fast-forward several years and Kaiser, at the age of 14, went over the rainbow bridge leaving Hunter all alone — but not for long. Two months later, I married a wonderful man and blending our families meant more than just kids. It also meant the blending of our respective dogs.
Hunter was a 120-pound lumbering hound dog mix and Blizzard was a 14-pound West Highland Terrier. Hunter had once been heart-worm infested and mistreated; Blizzard had been the runt of a pedigreed litter. It was a different kind of love story.
They were the oddest couple you could ever imagine but those two dogs quickly became the best of friends. Hunter was eager to please and would do whatever Blizzard wanted. She was, after all, the alpha! Occasionally the two would slip off and take long walks through the neighborhood, even after an electric fence had been installed. They would jump over, enduring the shock, and then skip on down to the local grocery store where they would hang out in the alley, sniffing the garbage bins.
When Hunter died unexpectedly after surgery for tracheal collapse, Blizzard was devastated. Long after he had been cremated, she would look around the house for him and sit at the window watching intently for any sign of his return. Whenever we said Hunter’s name, Blizzard would look up expectantly, ears forward, eager to see the friend we had just mentioned.
We rescued another dog after Hunter’s death, but Blizzard didn’t give him the time of day. So we rescued a female collie — same response. Then a male collie followed by a three-legged miniature pincher. Blizzard ignored them all, preferring to bite at their heels when there were herded out the door and pretend they didn’t exist the remainder of the time.
It was, as I said, a different kind of love story…
In memory of our little Blizzard, who died
this week after a long
battle with cancer.