A Girl and Her Dog

One day when I was 9 years old, my stepfather told me to get in the car. He didn’t say where we were going, and he left my stepsister (his daughter) and my mom at home, without telling them where we were going either. He drove to a house, where inside was a lady with a puppy waiting for us. It was a purebred sheltie (miniature collie). My stepfather handed the woman a bunch of cash and she asked me if I wanted to hold him while she tattooed his belly (do people still tattoo purebreds?) . I said no, because I hate needles and didn’t want to watch her do that to him. We left, and I held him on the way home. I had really long hair back then and the puppy climbed it like Rapunzel, up one side, around my neck, and down the other. I loved him immediately.

My stepfather had gotten him as a surprise for my mom. She had been saying she wanted a dog named Martini, but when she saw that it was a boy she decided she couldn’t call him that, and said since he was a Scottish breed, he needed a “good Scottish name”. She named him Rob (I would have preferred Martini).

As time went on, Rob became very aggressive, chased (and sometimes bit) people, cars, dogs. My parents were always threatening to “get him gassed”. I couldn’t stand the thought of that, but figured it was empty threats. He never once bit me. One day, years later, when I was about fifteen, my parents stupidly put choke collars on our two sheep and tied them to a tree. They got the rope wrapped around the tree and one of them was choking. We were all inside and had no idea. Rob ran to the house, barking to alert us that something was up. He saved that lamb’s life. A true sheep herder!

Fast forward to the year I was twenty. I was living on my own by then and had a nightmare one night about Rob. In the dream, he was in the back of a big, black car that looked like a hearse, looking out the back window at me as I chased the car down the road trying to catch up to it. I couldn’t; the car and my dog disappeared out of sight. I had never dreamed about him before, but didn’t think much of it… until the next night when I was in a store and ran into my stepfather. He said he had some bad news. “Who died?” I said.

“Rob got really sick and we had to put him down yesterday,” he told me.

I knew then that’s what my nightmare was. Somehow, my subconscious had known.

Fast forward again to me in my fifties, and my parents letting it slip that my stepfather had put the dog down for biting a neighbour’s dog, doing it while my mother was at work, without telling her. Rob hadn’t gotten sick at all. That was a lie.

They say there are no bad dogs, just bad owners. While I do believe that, my parents did find out that the breeder he came from had been inbreeding her dogs, and that it had caused behavioural issues. Either way, it wasn’t his fault and I loved him.

Fast forward once more to the present day…

Five days ago, I bought myself a border collie puppy. She is eleven weeks old and has such a sweet disposition. She has been stuck to me like glue since we brought her home. She is loving, and cute and beautiful and energetic and won’t let me out of her sight and I love her. We are working on the potty training, and all the training, and she is meeting lots of other dogs and people and hasn’t even barked. I named her Dexy (autocorrect wants to change that to Sexy…).

A few people have asked about the name and there are two reasons I chose it. I have been wanting a dog for years and planned for it to be a boy named Dexter (yes, after the fictional serial killer). But since she’s a girl, I modified it to Dexy. The other reason I like Dexy is because of the 70s song by British band Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Come On, Eileen. When I was little and it was just me and my mom in the car, she would turn that song way up when it came on the radio, grip the steering wheel so her knuckles turned white, sit forward in her seat and put the pedal to the metal. She wasn’t the safest driver, but she was fun. I still love that song – the fiddle, the banjo, the memories of being a little girl in a speeding car with my mom, music blasting.

My little Dexy Girl and I are going to make lots of our own memories together (though I promise you there will be no running at midnight, or speeding down the road in a car).

(Want to hear the song? Click the link below!)