|This isn't Bagel, but this picture reminds me of him when he was a puppy.|
This post first appeared on one of my other blogs:
If I Were to be Honest
In the late nineteen-seventies, right after I got my driver's license, my first official duty while driving alone was to stop at the post office in the next town. While I was there, a man with a shotgun in the back of his truck was giving away free puppies. He had only two left and he said he would shoot them at nightfall, if he were unable to find them homes. I took the male, and another man in the parking lot took the female.
My mother was not happy. She didn't think that anyone would shoot a puppy simply because it hadn't found a home. I was commuting to community college at the time, having graduated from high school early and the last thing she needed with another Northeastern winter coming, was a puppy. No matter how much I insisted that I would take care of it, she knew that at least sometimes, she would be called upon to do something with it, and she wasn't a dog person.
I did my best to take care of the puppy. A year later, I was being sent fifty and eighty miles away to various clinicals in a nursing program, and my mother, and sometimes, my father, pinch hit for me with the puppy, who was now quite tall, and that I had named Bagel. Bagel was light brown with medium length hair, and white markings. He was a hound with a beagly looking head, a mix I'm sure. He was kind, gentle, and an "all over you" kind of dog.
For the most part, Bagel was an "easy keeper". He was a loving friend and didn't cause much trouble, except for the time he jumped through the plate glass window when the neighbor's dog was in heat. I took Bagel to be neutered afterward during spring break. My poor mother was actually charged with having the dog off her five acre lot, thanks to the rather nasty neighbor who had the dog in heat, and my mother paid the small fine.
By 1981, I had married and I was working as a registered nurse, and I lived in a garden apartment about forty miles from my parent's home. I wished I could have Bagel, and our other dog, Moppet, with me, but the place I lived only allowed one tiny dog, or cat, and neither were small. I visited when I could, and made sure they both knew they were were loved. By about 1982, we had bought our very first home. It was in a rural area, on a mountain. The house itself was small, but I could have my dogs there. At first, my mother didn't want me to take the dogs with me, citing that occasional barking probably kept the house safer than not having them there. Eventually though, I visited both dogs one summer day and found that they were both without water for a second time. I took them with me that afternoon.
My starter home had been a seasonal cabin in the Ramapo Mountain Range near a couple of lakes. There were lots of copperhead snakes in the woods, and in the prior summer someone had killed a rattlesnake. However, my own property was small. The dogs didn't have the range they'd had at my parents home. I was really happy to have them both with me, but I also worked a lot and so I felt that I wished that I could have been at home more for them.
The following spring when I got my income tax return, we decided to fence our entire property so that when I was home, the dogs could be free, at least on the property. I hired two young contractors who had their own fencing business. Bagel especially, warmed to the young owner. One day, he brought both dogs, eggs, bacon and sausage in a dish. The young contractor played with Bagel and said to him a couple of times, "I would love to have a dog like you on my forty acre farm." On the last day the contractors were there finishing up my beautiful fencing, the owner asked me if I would consider giving Bagel to him. He said that would always care for him and would feed him excellent food. He would allow him full run of the forty acres he had, which was apparently not far off Route 80 in what was then, very rural Hope, New Jersey. He also said that when the weather was good, he planned to take the dog with him to work. He told me that I could call to see how he was doing and perhaps even visit him if I wanted to. The man clearly loved the dog and the dog certainly adored him. I felt foolish because here I was, fencing my yard for my dogs, and I was agreeing to give my dog to a man in a situation that would have been better for him. My other dog was elderly, and would probably enjoy being an only dog, who could come in to the house more than she had been. So the following day the man came with a new collar, leash, expensive dog food, to see me and to make sure I was alright with his collecting Bagel. I wished the dog good luck, and hugged him. I told the man that if ever he had a problem, to bring the dog back to me.
I was sad after Bagel left, but I wanted him to have everything and I thought that the man he's grown attached to, could do that. My other dog was enjoying the attention.
On a Saturday two weeks later, the fencing contractor drove up to my house. He told me that Bagel had spent every day since trying to find a way to get back to me. A couple of days earlier, the contractor had actually located the dog on Route 80 heading East to try to get back to my home. He said he knew then that the dog would be hit by a car if he kept him and so, he had to return him to me. He let Bagel keep the new collar, leash and the bag of new food. Bagel was thrilled to see me, and licked me profusely. Then, he licked the man, who had tears in his eyes, as if to thank him for returning him.
I had not understood how attached Bagel had been to me. I felt guilty that I had thought that a better living situation would please him more than the love I had given him from puppyhood. I would not make the same mistake again. Even Moppet was happy to see Bagel.
Over the next couple of years we had two babies in that house, a boy and a girl. We had an addition put on the house, but ultimately, we moved to a home in Virginia. I still remember driving the family car down to Virginia with both babies in car seats while my husband drove the largest rented yellow Ryder truck. Everything we owned was in the back of the truck, and the two dogs rode in the cab with him, because it was well air conditioned.
We fenced and built a kennel at our new home for both Bagel and Moppet and the two of them lived until both our babies were school children. Moppet died suddenly as a very old girl indeed. In old age, Bagel had a couple of strokes, and made near full recoveries. Eventually, he had one more, and I brought him with me to pick up the kids from school and then to see the vet. He lay on the front seat with his head on my lap, contentedly, took one more breath, and died.
The next time someone on Craigslist or somewhere else says their circumstances have changed and that "their dog might be happier with someone with more time and a larger yard", please remember Bagel. He spent two weeks each day trying to get back to the original human being who'd rescued him as a six week old puppy. He didn't care where I lived or how much of my time was taken by a job or then by young babies. He didn't care that my house on a mountaintop had only a quarter acre. He didn't care that we'd moved from rural New Jersey to blisteringly hot Virginia. He cared that he was with his human. It is very likely that your dog feels exactly the same about you.