Dogs have been part of our family’s world at different times. Two I remember well were a dog from my childhood, a pure-bred Boston terrier named "Mike" and a white and gold German Shepherd named "Coyote" who lived with us and cared for our children when they were very young. They were very good dogs and dearly loved, but after they were gone we didn’t want another dog because it’s a hard thing to bear when they have to leave your life.
Many years after Coyote passed away, our grown children, the neighbors and anyone wanting to give away a dog told us they knew we needed a dog. The day finally came when we decided to meet a young stray that needed a home. This is really her story to tell……….
"Yip, yip, how are you? Woof? Woof?
My adopted Mama said I should tell you the story about why I am so happy. I once lived in a warm and cozy place with my doggy mama and daddy and my brothers and sisters. I had lots to eat and lots of other dogs to play with.
One day a big person put my shiny red collar and blue and white checkered leash around my neck and said we were going to take a walk. Walking is my favorite thing - next to eating and chewing on stuff. We went out the door and I got to lead. I strolled along and sniffed the ground and ate a few bugs. It was a beautiful spring day.
I walked and walked a very long time and my tummy began to rumble a little. I stopped to wait for the big person, but no one was behind me. I was all alone and it was starting to get dark. I always get to eat when my tummy growls and it gets dark. ‘Where is everybody? Mama, where are you?’ There are lots of loud noises and very strange things in the dark and I don’t like it!
Something big on wheels tried to hit me! Now my stomach really hurts and I want some water. I fell into a hole. I think the big people call it a ditch. I’m so cold and wet it’s hard to sleep. ‘I don't like this place! Where's my Mama??'
After sleeping a little bit I start to walk again. My leash drags behind me, but I can't get it off. I’ve walked such a long time. I don't know where I am and I don't think I know how to get home. Mama always says to find a big person when you are lost, but all the big people run away from me when I smile and I try to tell them my tummy hurts. They scream and throw things at me and yell, ‘Bad dog’.
A big person talked to me today. He said I was a nice doggy so I licked his hand, but I was scared. He took me inside a fence at his house where there was another dog. The other dog couldn't play. He had to go inside.
The nice man gave me a pan with water in it and I was so thirsty I drank it all. Now my tummy was really hurting. The nice man put another pan on the ground and I sniffed it. It didn't smell like anything I’d ever eaten before, but I tried it because I was hungry. I chewed real fast, but it made me sick. My tummy still feels funny.
I got to sleep in a room with a roof. It was warmer than the ditch, and I had a piece of cloth to sleep on. The nice man called it a towel. I like this place, but I want to go home where no one is scared of me and I get to eat when my tummy growls.
Today we got in a big machine. The nice man called it a "Dodge". He said I had to go to another home because he already had a dog. It is warm in here and I am getting very sleepy........
We have stopped. Everyone gets out, so I do too. There are several people here. They pet me and give me a rope toy to chew on. They tell me that it’s mine and I don't have to give it to anyone.
The people talk and they tell me I get to stay here. The nice man tells me "goodbye" and gives my leash to the people at this house. Sitting beside the man and the lady is very nice. They rub my head and scratch my belly. I hope I don't have to leave this place. I really like the big yard and the birds. They have food and water for me. They tell me I am a good dog and I get a treat. I really like it here.”
Our storyteller was a 62 pound Rottweiler puppy of about 6 months. We had never been around this breed of dog and knew absolutely nothing about them. I spent several hours in the library reading about Rottweilers. Every book I read started out with "Not everyone is able to take care of a Rottweiler. You should choose your puppy with care." Ok, so what happens when you rescue a dog that is no longer a "small" puppy that needs a home and someone to care for it? It is too late for "handle with care" or "get the right puppy" when you have taken in an abandoned dog to live with your family.
For the first month, the dog thought her name was "no, no"!! She ate the siding off the patio of our house. She dug holes all over our yard. She chewed up a wooden picnic table and swing. She ate the rose bushes -- thorns and all. Anything dropped was quickly buried so well that we couldn’t find it. One of the books I read said that a large breed dog needed lots of exercise. We bought a leash and the dog promptly dragged me down the street and around the block every time I tried to walk her.
While we were getting used to this large dog, we had to think of a name and then teach it to her. The books I read were about fancy Rottweilers with three German names. They had difficult spellings and strange sounds. We decided on Mary Alyce Xavier and shortened the name to the beginning letters - M.A.X. Because it was short, we decided she could learn it after a few days. Sure enough, in a short while, she learned to sit and wait as I walked a few steps away from her. Then, holding a dog treat over my heart I would call her name. She learned her name and came with the "hand over the heart" sign.
We became impassioned proponents for Rottweiler rescue, telling everyone we knew what a wonderful dog we had rescued. M.A.X. joined our family on a Palm Sunday and by Christmas we knew she was our dog. When she drank her water she wiped her tongue on who ever was available. Every time we bought a large knuckle bone or dog food for a 100-lb dog, the clerk would roll their eyes and tell us how they had "heard" how a large dog had hurt someone and they would end with "this one will turn on you too".
We knew M.A.X. needed some training, but decided that this sweet, gentle giant did not need to be exposed to someone who might hurt her. We taught her what we wanted her to know. She came when her name was called, walked on leash, warned the whole neighborhood with loud barking when someone was around, and played until exhausted with our grandson. She thought he was a tall puppy and just another litter-mate.
A large dog at 110 pounds, M.A.X. was intelligent and loving. We played hide and seek (I hid, she found me) and dodge ball with her. We played soccer or keep-away with a large, pink, plastic Easter egg. She learned to bounce the pink egg off the privacy fence, then catch it with her teeth when no one was available to play with her at 2 o'clock in the morning. When we would leave for a weekend or vacation, our neighbors took care of M.A.X.. She played "chase" with them and loved on them. She adopted them as part of her family. M.A.X. would get a little anxious when we were gone more then a few days and we attributed that to being abandoned, lost, and possibly mistreated when she was a "small" puppy.
M.A.X. loved to be hugged on and she was a "talker". She would “rumble” when she had something to say – mostly if she disagreed with what you were (or were not) doing to her satisfaction. She was happy and smiled a lot, especially when she got belly rubs and ear rubs. She begged shamelessly for bananas and carrots, then sitting quietly, she took them gently from our hand. Our M.A.X. was a very special creature.
We learned quite a bit about being owned by a Rottweiler. It is "owned by", not the other way around. Anyone who has been around a Rottweiler will understand the concept. Our dog treated us the way we treated her - with love and respect. She was a most devoted friend. She protected us and "barked" people down the street if she thought they had lingered too long by the gate or fence. When a car pulled up at the front of the house, everyone in the neighborhood knew it from her deep throated barking. If given a chance, she tried to be a very large lap dog. It was with amazement that we watched M.A.X. sleeping on her back in her dog bed or in the grass in the back yard with all four feet waving in the air. Rottweilers are a special breed of dog and the clowns of the dog world.
For 10 years, M.A.X. was the light of our life. She got sick and for two weeks she fought bravely, but she lost the fight. The light went out of our world. M.A.X. was 10 years 3 months and 8 days old. Our special friend was gone but she will never be forgotten.
We were once asked if we would share our lives with another Rottweiler and our answer is
"in a heart beat".
This is ELLE, the little girl we rescued in March 2008. She did not
have a very happy time as a baby and we still do not crowd her in-
to corners, make loud noises, or allow her around people that she
has not been introduced to. This is a very loving dog and we are
happy to be owned by her.
Again the light went out and she left us in the Spring of 2016 after
she told us all good-by. Now the smile is gone.