Nothing Is Impossible

by jkatejohnston

28 August 2014

Dear Max,

Today’s our one-week anniversary with Colin. I should have been writing about him every day, perhaps hour by hour, because, as with a newborn baby, each day has big changes. Yesterday at work, I asked a guy about his six-month-old grandson, and while he was talking, I realized I was dying to bring up my dog.

When we first brought him home, he was shy and nervous, ears and tail down, body kind of shrinking into itself. He never barked. He checked out the backyard and house with that curious inventory-like sniffing. The first night, he wandered the house, click-click-clicking his doggy nails on the wood floor, going from room to room and window to window. Teresa kept taking him outside in case he needed to pee or poo, but he didn’t, as far as she could tell. Each night he’s wandered less and less, and for the last two nights he’s just been passed out on the bottom bunk all night. He looks so good in his bottom-bunk den with his golden fur set off by the unfinished wood and the green fleece blanket. He fits nicely. And there’s Enzo on the top bunk, sleeping naked at this time of year, looking so alarmingly long and strong.

Enzo was dying to walk him at first and almost heartbroken that he couldn’t walk him by himself. We kept explaining that Colin’s not trained to come when called yet, so if he bolted, we’d have a hard time getting him back and he might bolt into traffic. Enzo pets him and hugs him and talks to him and wants to play with him, but Colin doesn’t really know how to play yet. Enzo said, “Every toy I give him, he just declines it.” Teresa told Enzo what they said about Colin on the website: he doesn’t know what to do with toys, they weren’t part of his growing up.

He’s about two now, and we don’t know much about his puppyhood, except that he and his sister were strays and ended up in the dog pound in Tulare County. Then his sister was adopted, and he was left all alone, and then he came to Homeward Bound, the golden retriever rescue, and got fattened up and chipped and neutered and vaccinated and had a bit of dental work done. He was there for about three months, and then we came along.

When we’d had him four days, the trainer who works at Homeward Bound came by to see how we were doing. And then we learned that Colin can bark. He barked and barked at her. Teresa kept comforting him, and he would roll over and let Teresa rub his tummy, but still bark at the lady. The trainer said maybe Colin thought she was going to take him back to Homeward Bound, which is a lovely place, a farm with big green pastures and a swimming pool for the dogs, but it’s still not a home. She said she couldn’t believe the transformation in him and how he’s bonded with Teresa. Anyway, it was nice to feel that Colin has decided we’re his peeps and he wants to stay here. And seeing his flag of a tail waving when he sees us and his ears get all eager and alert—he likes us! He really does.

He even gets along with Duncan. We separated them at first, but now all the doors are open. Duncan is skeptical but unafraid. Colin’s simply not interested. They’re usually in different rooms, but as I’m writing this, Duncan is asleep on the back of the couch and Colin is asleep by the front door and I’m looking at them both. It’s a scene of great comfort. And this morning, Teresa was petting Duncan with one hand and Colin with the other. She has very long arms.

I also have a note here that says, “If you have a dog, nothing is impossible.” Also, “Sometimes people who don’t have dogs die soon.”