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17 August 2014, 01:00

Yup. I love dogs. When Andy died about a month ago, I was torn apart and I still think about it almost daily. I don’t break out crying like I use to, but the connection is strong and still there, even with a deceased dog. But when Andy died, we had two dogs and a little less pet drama, a little less pet stress. Andy was a headstrong dog, and at times unpredictable. He was trained, but only when he wanted to be. But he was my little man, and I loved him dearly and harbor guilt and loss for this dog.

I think Doug was fine and preferred the reduced size of my zoo. And I didn’t press any desire for another dog. I was content to live with the existing pack for a while. Easley, Sophie, and two cats that I call collectively "kitty".

Until about three weeks ago. We came home three weeks ago and found this pitbull mix doggie in our yard sniffing around. We pulled up into the driveway, where Doug wasn’t about to get out of the car. I got out and shooed this dog out of the gate, where he just stood about 300 feet away watching me close the gate and greet my dogs.

I thought nothing of it. A couple days later, the dogs were at the fence at the side of the property. Turns out, this same dog had made a little camp in the woods next to our house. I went up to the fence where the dog was, and he didn’t bark, he didn’t growl. He looked at me cross-eyed and backed away a bit. He was a bit dirty, and had two small injuries, but all in all, looked to be a very well taken care of dog. The nails were trimmed, he was neutered and he wasn’t aggressive. Around where I live, people seem to dump dogs all the time, and I see dogs running wild all over the area. They run amok and roam around, being semi feral and scavenge whatever they can get. This one was different. He hung out by the fence and didn’t leave. Everytime he saw me, he’d perk up and he’d watch from his camp in the trees daily. I gave him food and water and kept and eye on him. I attempted to pet him, and was successful in establishing a little rapport with the doggie.

Once in a while, I’d lock my animals up and let him run in our yard, and when he was allowed to, he scampered and his eyes lit up as he would come to me for pets and praise.

Four days passed and I had decided to try and find his owners. I took pictures and made flyers. I contacted 20 shelters, posted his picture on various online outlets and hoped the animal control people wouldn’t come by and get him before I found his home. Doug was terrified of this giant pitbull, I always encourage to be wary of strange dogs and to be alert, because you don’t know what is going to happen. He forbade me to bring the dog into the yard, citing that he will kill our dogs and cats.

He seemed to interact calmly with the other dogs, so, with some trepidation, I decided that while I was trying to find his home, I would bring him into the yard, possibly fencing off some of the yard if need be, so he can at least be safe. So I locked up the dogs and Doug in the bedroom, and brought in the doggie. I carefully had planned to at least try to bathe him. I got the hose and shampoo out and chased him around a bit. He wasn’t aggressive. He reacted like "NOOOO BATH" with tail tucked and a sorrowful look. I made a fateful decision to bring him into the house to give him a bath in the tub. He was heavy and he didn’t want a bath, but instead of biting my face off, he whimpered and buried his big old block head in my chest as I tried to heave his jumbo frame into the bathtub.

I got him cleaned up and observed him for about 5 minutes. He acted like a house dog, not aggressive and not at all upset. Based only on my instincts in reading this dog, I had him follow me to the bedroom and I was going to let the other dogs out. I braced myself for flying fur, beared teeth, blood and claws. And when I opened the door to the bedroom, I could feel waves of panic from Doug as he was vunerable to this wild eyed, dangerous beast we didn’t know anything about. He’s a killer. He’s a pitbull. He’s not OUR dog.

I grabbed the dog around the collar and opened the bedroom door slowly. I saw panic and fear on Doug’s face and then the other dogs rushed him. There was a flurry of wagging tails and licking. He trodded with his head down and tail wildly wagging over to Doug. He licked and whimpered and Doug realized that he wasn’t going to be mauled by a giant pitbull.

It turns out this dog is really good with cats. He is gentle with the kitten and scared to hell out of the big black cat who regularly chases it around the yard and ambushes around the house. I need to fix that some how. He suckles my fingers. No lie. Nurses on fingers like a big baby. Yes, I was insane to put my fingers in a strange pitbull’s mouth, but I did and I guess it sooths him as he slobbers to sleep with my finger in his maw (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JShbXdC3s20).

We bought a "Beware of Dog" sign for the front gate, in preparation for whatever territorial problems a big pitbull might pose to unsuspecting folks. But, since then, we’ve discovered that strangers can waltz into the yard, and he’ll just bark from the porch, then then back of the house, then inside the house, then from inside the bathroom inside the house. So, we bought a lock for the gate instead.

He sleeps like a big baby in the corner, listens like someone trained him well, came pretty much housebroken, and I caught Doug saying to him "How was I ever scared of you" as he cuddle with him. He is, what most people would call, a gentle giant.

Right now he really has no name. We tried calling him everything in the book: Brutus, Hank, Mikey, Harley, Hurly, Farley, Mookie, Jimmy, Jakey, Pooper, Bo-Bo, Dummy, Fucknuts, etc.

I call him Harley/Hurley and he seems to at least be aware I’m trying to get his attention.