She is the slobbery kissing, stair-surfing, fly-biting, triple-pooping, field mouse hunting, hairiest dog that I have included in my family for the past 8 years.
Abbey is a great dog -- the definition of a family dog to me. She created a standard for our household that will not likely be met by any subsequent dogs. She was as much a part of my household as the couch, the dishes, and the front door.
I remember the day we met.
A Mutt for Us
We got Abbey at the animal shelter in Seal Beach. She was a mutt brought in with her sister and mother, still nursing at 13-15 weeks. We knew almost immediately that we wanted her to be our first dog. She seemed to fit us. The people that ran the shelter agreed. They waived the 24-hour waiting period so we could take her home that night.
I held her on my lap while I did the paperwork. She was wrapped in a towel and a little stressed out to be away from her family.
I gathered pamphlets on how to introduce her to the cat at home, when to spay her and where, and how much to feed her. I listened to advice on training her and the pitch for obedience school which I ignored. I wrote a check for the adoption charges that were around $90 at that shelter, picked for it’s no-kill policy. We were now dog owners.
No one was certain how old Abbey was or even what Abbey was. They liked to call her Eva Marie. I didn’t. As soon as we got in the car we started brainstorming new names for her. As we drove her home for the first time, we changed her name to Abbey.
Our Dog Meets the Cat
She was lonely for her sister and Mom when we got here. I remember she was tired and hung out under the coffee table by the couch when we got home. I took a nap with her so she wouldn’t be alone. She quickly became a part of us, though, preparing us for the growing family we would become.
After her nap, we introduced her to the cat. Zeke, my husband’s cat from before we met. Zeke was almost the same size as Abbey, which is pretty huge for a regular old housecat. He had a great personality, too, that was almost as big as he was. We loved him dearly and wanted him to like our new addition to the family.
This event was our first big disappointment as pet owners.
Zeke was not a fan of Abbey. He hissed and spat and ran away. Then, for at least a couple of weeks, he sulked like a sullen teen-ager, positively pissed that we brought this terrible beast into his home.
Abbey tried so hard to win Zeke over, but it was not to be. Zeke was not amused.
Zeke had no claws (for you militants out there, we didn't perform this procedure; Zeke's modifications were made before he became a part of our lives) but that didn’t stop him from lashing out at the new yellow terror that had invaded his space. The exchange happened frequently. First Abbey would try to engage Zeke. Then Zeke would make it clear that he wasn’t interested. We called it our first sibling rivalry.
But because the smacks on the nose lacked any “bite”, Zeke’s attempt to repel Abbey were largely ineffectual, which of course only served to make him more sullen and disagreeable. Eventually, when he realized that Abbey was here to stay, Zeke ran away from home. He never came back.
This was our second big disappointment as pet owners.
In part 2, I will share more stories of Abbey Dog, including her first major surgery and when she found her bark.
More from living