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My Sweet Carolina Girl


So you might have read about my new brown dog, Carolina. She is a rescue, exactly NOT the dog I was looking for. I've been a 'black dog girl' for more than 20 years. I have defined a whole part of myself by being a person who loves big black dogs. (Research shows they are slowest to be adopted and in some cultures, they carry superstitions of bad luck.) Me, I LOVED my black dogs.

That is what I was looking for when my sweet Abbie let me know she had done all she could. I was pretty sure I needed another good black dog. So that is what I went looking for. I'm a rescue girl, I wanted a dog who might need me as much as I needed her. I was on the lookout for a good black dog to fill the giant hole in my heart. I scoured the outerweb. I searched the rescue sites, talked to a couple of different organizations with black dogs who fit my list of needs. I made a plan for a certain black dog girl who was supposed to be a "perfect fit". Except the person running the rescue could not get out of her own way to let me adopt this sweet girl. I was crushed. I NEEDED a dog.

Call in the reinforcements. My sweet friend Dee Dee could hear in my voice that I was not doing well without a dog. The past year of sadness and loss and then having to let my sweet Abbie go, I was NOT doing well. She hopped into the Surburban and made the 3 hour drive. "We are going to get you a dog!" We tried to go get the black dog that I had my heart on. That was not going to happen. My heart cried.

"Huddle: new game plan?" We regrouped, searched for dogs on all the pet-something sites, and decided there were a couple black dog options within a hundred miles. Sunday morning, we headed out with a plan, off to the most distant shelter to look at that black dog and then check out the other shelters as we drove back closer to home.

First stop was the Eastern North Carolina SPCA. The shelter has had a significant rebuild and improvements in the past several years. I hadn't been out there in almost 10 years, but it has been transformed. We asked to meet the black dog we researched. Kind person lead us to her kennel. What we met was a good black dog, that with a lot of work, could and will be a great addition to someone's family. But she was more work than I knew I could do with my nutty summer schedule. Tears rolled down my face, I needed a black dog, but this was not going to be my girl.

My sweet friend, my 'adult supervision' said, 'That is not your dog.' More tears. Kind person asked what we were looking for, I explained, black dog, female, 60+ pounds, sweet.... he suggested a very sweet senior dog, 8 or more years old, I had looked at her on Petfinder, but my heart couldn't bear the thought of loving a dog so much and knowing she was on borrowed time. I couldn't do the sad again so soon.

And as we walked out to the indoor/outdoor runs all the dogs were in full frenzy, PICK ME!! Look at ME!! But the first run had a quiet brown dog just sitting and watching. Her beautiful brown eyes, complete with perfect eyeliner stole my heart. I went into the run, and knelt down, and this sweet shy, soulful brown dog with the beautiful eyes came up to me and smushed herself into my chest. I hugged her, looked out to my friend Dee Dee and she said, "That is your dog." Yes, girl, you are my dog.

We proceeded with paperwork.....I filled out forms and paid the best $85 dollars I have spent in a long while. As the shelter staff was working on their side of the paperwork, I sat on the floor with this sweet brown dog in my lap, and tears rolled down my face. One of the staff looked at me in a kind of panic and said, "Is everything ok, are you ok?" Dee Dee laughed and said, 'She's fine, that's what she does, she cries." Yep, that is kind of what I do.... I cry less these days, but there have been a lot of tears in the past year.

So now 'my' sweet brown dog comes home. I have a crate ready at the house, and I wrangle the biggest crate I can manage from the W-place and assemble it at the shop. Our first couple days were the first couple days of any relationship. We were both trying to figure the other one out. Dog wanted to steal things and run, I resisted the urge to chase... she was wild around the edges, but SO smart and SO sweet. She wanted to learn and be praised from the start. I realized she had no commands, no socialization, never walked on a lead, most likely was a 'yard dog' and was obviously hit. Her fear of men was palpable the first days at the shop. Giant barks, me trying to settle her..... not a great start. Her with wild racing around the yard moments at home with every effort to dig up flower beds and be just wild. This was not the sweet brown eyed girl who melted my heart.

Call in the reinforcements, tearful calls to Sister Beth about 'what have I done' - hours on the outerweb researching training options. My biggest efforts were to praise and reinforce the good behaviors and ignore the less desirable and hope that they would extinguish.

Sweet, skilled Tara showed up at the shop at the end of week two and changed my world on how to look at dog behaviors and how to redirect. The option of give scary (to Carolina) but kind boy person a handful of treats and have him toss the first treats away was a miracle. Tara explained that giving the dog the option of choosing the treat or choosing to bark broke the 'fight or flight' response with so many dogs who have been abused. For the next week we worked on that, and she now is mostly good with most guys. She's really good with most ladies, and loves kiddos. There is still a certain stature of man she alerts on, but with a little more love and patience we will get past that too. And.... when woken from a nap she tends to be a bit grumpy and noisy....I am too, but we are working on that.

So there she is. Sweet brown dog, who for me was fine just being a sweet 'brown dog'. A long time friend and customer insisted she was a 'black mouthed cur' - I was holding out on 'brown dog'. And then I searched the outerweb and 'images' and someone had obviously been taking pictures of my dog. So now she's not just a mutt (wouldn't have mattered to me) but she fits all the profile descriptions, so I guess I have at least some version of a 'black mouthed cur'.

Yesterday marked 2 months, just 8 weeks of my sweet Carolina and I learning to be a team. In that short time, you guys, my people, have been patiently calm and kind and understanding. She has come so far and she has learned so much. She can walk politely on a lead, knows her name, can 'sit' 'shake' 'other shake' 'come' and do 'down' all on command, sometimes just on hand signals. Even if your words are not my words, she still wants to make you proud. She still wants to please. She is so smart, and so aware. Some days a little - or a lot- more aware of her environment and cautious, other days she is happy to gnaw a bone on the rug or from the comfort of her 'house'.

I will keep thanking you for welcoming my 'new girl' into the world that is Knitting Addiction. Yes, Purrl has gone to the big yarn store in the sky. She had a great life, nearly 14 years living in a happy home. She was a feral kitten, and likely would have lived to be 3 or 4 in the wild. She had people who loved her, and people she 'loved' and moments when she annoyed everyone. She was by all descriptions 'a cat'.

Thanking you in advance for continued patience with my Carolina. She is working really, really hard at learning how to be a good yarn store dog. And she is also working really, really hard at learning how to be my 'next' and my companion, and my reason to get out of bed in the morning. She makes my heart smile. I hope that maybe, with her magical brown eyes and her sweet soul she might make your heart smile a little too.

Nothing about sticks or string here. Just my heart, shared wide open.

Please keep loving us, please keep being patient, you guys are my people and I am yours and this beautiful brown eyed 'Carolina Girl' wants you to be her people too.

In sloppy kisses and wagging tails- j&c


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