"A story about my blue heeler rescue. Her name is Stitch.
"I am on a sales' call to a neighboring town and my customer is busy when I got there. I was told to come back in half an hour. My customer's location is kind of in the middle of nowhere - no food, no shopping, no nothing. The only thing close by is the animal shelter. So, being foolish, I decide I'LL stroll in there and maybe play with a couple of the dogs while I wait.
"Long story short, I fall in love with this scruffy, unkempt blue heeler mix. I send a picture to my girlfriend and say 'should I bring this dog home?' We have another dog already. She says 'do what you want.' Still being foolish and not knowing that 'do what you want' means 'no fcking way,' I drive back to the shelter after my sales' call, pay my money, and make the two-and-a-half hour drive home with my new dog. She is about a year old at the time.
"The meet-and-greet with my other dog goes fine. Girlfriend is pissed, but that's secondary. I notice this dog has some unusual behavior for a one-year-old dog. She doesn't play ball - she doesn't even recognize that a ball is a toy. She's not lazy, but she doesn't want to play. She stays close to us all the time. She purposely avoids the kitchen and goes into other rooms when you're eating even as my other dog begs for table scraps (and gets them). She's not anxious or scared, just not playful or fun. She never even wags her tail. And when she meets my dad for the first time, she cowers. Tail down, head down, ears back, super submissive. Undoubtedly this dog has been neglected and abused.
"Time goes by and she's loosened up a bit. She doesn't fetch but she's happy to see us now, wags her tail, and begs like a good ole spoiled dog should. But she's still kind of reserved and just wants cuddles all the time. To this point she doesn't even know how to get into trouble.
"One day (yes, the story starts now) we're at the local dog park. This park has a creek running through it which, after winter, has fish in it. Not good fishing fish, just whitefish or other gross creatures. This drives the dogs nuts since the fish wash up on shore when they die. We all know how much dogs love gross smells - especially rolling in gross smells.
"Stitch disappears into some tall grass one spring day, which is fine as she plays very well with my other dog. My other dog comes back and Stitch doesn't. This is down by the creek area. I keep walking because Stitch always comes back when she gets to far away. Not this time. She doesn't. Finally, and I'm probably 70 yards away by this time, I start calling for her. I see her strutting out of the tall grass.
"And her tail is up. And her ears are forward. And she's holding her head up high. And she's basically prancing. This dog is incredibly happy with herself. I can't see why yet...
"She gets close enough that I can see why she's so happy. This reserved, timid, sometimes fearful, not quite a 'dog' dog has hauled a full fish out of the creek and is carrying it over to me through the park.
"Other dog park patrons are disgusted. I'm almost in tears because this animal who's been abused and neglected for the first year of her life has finally gone and done something she wanted to do, not for anyone's gain but her own. I'm almost in tears because I've never seen her look so proud of herself. It's at this point I consider my dog to have become a dog.
"Fck I'm tearing up just remembering the look on her face. I walk over to her, sit in the grass and she drops the fish and looks up at me with a big dopey smile on her face, wagging her tail and waiting for her praise. I like to imagine that, going through her little dog mind, was the phrase 'did I do good?' I probably spent five minutes there just petting her and telling her how good she was...
"She was proud, I was proud, and my other dog decided that this fish would make a good snack. I didn't mind."
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