So remember when we adopted the best freakin' dog in the world?
Last July, we got a sweet 5 year old golden retreiver named Riley
as a companion dog for our wingnut 3 year old black lab, Dakota.
Well, I'd never adopted an adult dog before,
so I had very little expectations,
but some of them were unrealistic anyway.
Riley had been very well trained--
he would sit when we said "sit"
he'd stay when we said "stay"
and he would come when we called him.
he was far and way better trained than Dakota.
But, she hated him.
She bit him
growled and snipped at him
" Jealousy thy name is Dakota."
And, from Day One, Riley dug holes under our fence
to get out of the backyard.
All. the. time.
Our kind neighbors would bring him back
or call us, since our info was on his dog tags.
Not only was it annoying and destructive,
it was dangerous.
Twice he was found trotting down a busy road
one street over from us.
The thought of him being run over by a car
so he ended up inside the house most of the time.
Which ain't no fun for him.
I decided last May to place an ad on Craigslist
for him to be adopted.
The response was tremendous,
for an AKC intact golden retriever with good manners,
just as I knew there would be.
The yahoos revolted and weren't ready to let go of
the Best Dog in the World.
I wasn't either, I admit it.
I love goldens and he's a charmer through n' through.
So I sat on the adoption.
Until last Friday,
as I was pulling up into the driveway
after being gone maybe 15 minutes,
I caught him again escaping the backyard,
headed for who knows where.
And I knew,
I just knew right then,
that it was time to place him for his own good
in a more suitable home.
One of the responders I got was from a gal up in Greeley, Colorado
who, together with her husband owns a land and cattle farm.
She wrote that she already owned 4 goldens and was looking for another male
I liked the idea of the farm,
but not so much the breeding.
I don't know why the idea bothered me,
as we've bought all of our dogs from breeders,
except Riley, who had been adopted from a breeder
by his previous owners.
But it did bother me
so I kept looking.
We got many repsonses from families like ours--
they wanted to adopt a sweet mannered golden
to live with them.
But I knew that was not going to be ideal for him--
he didn't really bond with us--
as evidenced by his escaping behavior.
Dakota never left our yard,
even with a gaping hole in the fence
as Riley would leave it.
She is attached to us.
We belong to her and visa versa.
So to put him into the same exact setting
wasn't going to work;
we needed something different.
After alot of careful thought,
I emailed the farmer's wife and asked if she were still interested.
She was excited to meet him,
so we drove 2 hours yesterday up to Greeley
to check out the place.
It was out in the middle of farm country--
they had horses, cows, sheep, pigs
and a zillion rows of corn.
By the house was the large fenced area for her goldens,
and also on the property were two white Great Pyrenees
guarding the place from coyotes,
according to the farmer's wife.
We introduced Riley to her
and of course he won her over.
He is such a gentleman.
Her other breeding dogs were going nuts!
The male was quite defensive--
I think it's because Riley is so much more handsome
than he is,
and he had two females in heat with him,
so he' was protecting his romantic interests, yeah?
This is where our Sunday in the country
proved a bit much for our citified
first, Riley was chasing a horse, who was chasing a cow,
and just as I knew it,
he got kicked in the chin by the horse.
Riley didn't even yelp,
he did learn his lesson though
and got out of the corral ASAP.
The kids were very concerned that their pet just got kicked by a horse,
as they'd never seen anything like that before.
It gets worse though.
While we were down by the feed barn with the sheep,
two little teeny kittens came tumbling out to greet us.
Dara, who is the family pet-lover,
scooped them both up and asked if they were For Sale--
to which the farmer's wife offered them up right then
I shook my head and reminded Dara we weren't there for kittens,
and besides, Ari and I are both allergic to cats.
So Dara carried them around for a little bit
until we got to the backporch of the house.
Then she set them down to play.
Riley saw them both,
sniffed them, even licked one,
but went on his way.
Told you, he is the best dog!
The farmer's wife was surprised at how gentle
he was with the kittens
and remarked about it.
So between the porch and the fenced-in dog yard
with the 3 goldens in there,
we had parked our Suburban in the driveway,
so that you couldn't see on the other side of it.
Joseph and Ari were over at the fence,
while Dara, Kent and I were at a table on the porch,
filling out the AKC paperwork and Bill of Sale for Riley.
We had agreed that in exchange for Riley,
instead of money,
we would like a female puppy sired by Riley and
a British cream female there
to be delivered sometime in 2013.
Just as the paperwork was being signed,
a huge fuss of barking started,
and Joseph yelled out,
"the dogs are eating the kitten!"
Kent and Dara ran over
but in those three seconds,
the dogs had ripped the kitten in peices.
My heart sank.
I looked over the car for Ari
who looked to be in shock, walking to me,
eyes filled with tears.
She couldn't believe what she'd just witnessed.
One of those sweet tiny kittens had waddled over
to the fence,
and a dog grabbed her by the head and pulled her to him,
then another dog came and they did a tug-of-war on the creature
until it was in pieces.
Dara stood there,
waiting by the fence, hoping the farmer's wife would come and
"do something" to help the kitten,
until we called her to come away.
She scooped up the other kitten
and with tears flowing begged me to
let her bring the kitten home with us.
That was hard.
I wanted to. I so wanted to.
But that was not practical for our family.
Our lab, Dakota doesn't like cats,
so what would we do with it?
And we couldn't keep it inside because of allergies.
So I put my arm around her,
and we walked back to the feed barn
where the kittens had tumbled out of,
and she placed the black and white kitten back in a corner.
the kitten jumped over hay bales and feed bags
until she landed next to my feet,
looked up at me and "meowed" with her small blue eyes.
This is too hard, I thought.
Again, Dara picked her up and put her further back into the barn
and we both hurried back to the house,
while Dara just sobbed.
my own heart felt wrenched and eyes teared up.
My kids had never seen nature be so cruel and unforgiving.
The farmer's wife was equally touched,
but she offered just a few words,
"Kittens don't last long on farms, I'm sad to say."
By this time, she needed to go fetch the remains of the kitten
out of the dog pen,
and then, it was time to say our goodbyes to
the best dog in the world--
who I haveta say,
was having the time of his life running around,
exploring all of the different animals and corn rows,
he even licked a toad!
I was looking for a good reason to say "No thanks. We'll just take our dog and go home."
I really was.
But, this trip wasn't about US,
it was about this sweet dog,
so despite the kids' pleas,
we left him there.
Tears flowed on the way home,
and into the evening,
as the kids relived the awful scenes they witnessed
compiled with leaving Riley.
The trip home was emotional to say the least.
I don't know what my expectations were for a breeding kennel set-up...
I was thinking it was like a buncha sweet dogs all hangin' out,
makin' puppies and runnin' around,
happy as larks.
Hunting dogs bred to be hunting dogs,
kept in dog pens,
wasn't even on my radar.
I did tell the farmer's wife that Riley is a housedog, a family dog--
not a penned-up dog,
which she could easily see.
The kids all hung out with us in our room last night,
and we talked about getting a new puppy next year
and what we'll name her and teach her.
And the fact that we'll get to see Riley again;
all happy thoughts.
we had two girls who needed extra loving
and Ari even got a blessing by Dad to help her sleep away
those scary memories.
We were all a little traumatized.
Life is like that sometimes.
We see things that we shouldn't see,
or wish we hadn't seen
and somehow, I hope,
there's a lesson in this experience that will do my kids
Maybe it's as cliche as
"life is fragile"
"be aware of your surroundings"
or something else I can't think of right now.
But I hope something good comes of it,
whatever it is.
You can bet that Dakota is being loved on a hundred times more,
and she is lovin' it.
I am doing the best I can.
P.S. Got an email from the farmer's wife this morning; she said, and I quote:
you so very much for riley, he slept with me last night he is sooooo
sweet! I am sorry abt the kitten i got angry and it is nobodys fault
but the kitten. Thx again