Mayzie: Yep! That’s right! It’s Brudder Ranger’s birthday! He’s NINE years old today! Can you believes it?
Ranger: Really? THAT’s the picture you chose to post for my birthday?
Mayzie: But it’s so CUTE! I thinks you look adorbs, Brudder Ranger!
Ranger: I don’t know…I’m sorry, did you just call me “adorbs”?
Mayzie: Yes! It’s a new word I learned. Do you like it?
Ranger: As I was saying, I don’t know why there is a moral imperative in this household to humiliate the family member whose birthday it is.
Mayzie: Well, you think THAT’s bad…guess what? MOM asked if she could say something about you on my bloggie today.
Ranger: What? Oh, Mayzie. Dear, DEAR Mayzie. Please tell me you denied her the opportunity.
Mayzie: Nope! I sure didn’t! Believes me, you’ll thank me later, Brudder Ranger. Okay, mom, take it away!
I can hardly believe Ranger is turning nine today, which means he’s been part of our family almost eight years now. I can’t believe that last part either, mainly because it seems he’s always been with us.
In our household, my husband is the voice of reason when it comes to the pets. That’s probably just as well since if left to my own devices, there’s a not-too-remote possibility of my ending up on that “Hoarders” show. So while I spent the first 12 years of our marriage talking about how we should get a dog, the hubby held firm. “It’s not the right time,” he always said.
Looking back on it, he was probably right. For many of those first years, we lived in apartments. He worked odd hours and I was heavily involved in community theater, which meant many hours away from home at night. Our lifestyle at the time just wasn’t right for a dog. And so we had cats, which I loved with all my heart. But I still yearned for a dog.
Years later, after we bought our home in Colorado, hubby agreed that NOW we could get a dog. I was over the moon! He spent hours on the computer, researching different dog breeds. He wanted a dog he could hunt rabbits with. I wanted a dog that loved to cuddle. He wanted a dog that was intelligent and easily trained. I wanted a dog that didn’t require TOO much exercise. We both wanted a rescue.
Finally, the hubby announced that he had narrowed it down to a rat terrier or a breed only found in France. After briefly contemplating a French vacation, we settled on the rat terrier. Once that was decided, I started researching breed specific rescues and found Ratbone Rescues. Although they are based in Florida, they have a network of foster homes throughout the U.S. We submitted our application but the first two dogs we were interested in were unavailable. And that’s when we asked about Ranger.
Only he wasn’t Ranger at the time. He was “Joe,” a 15 month-old dog in Texas. The picture on their website was grainy and taken from far away, so it was hard to tell what he looked like. But the description of his personality was pretty much exactly what we wanted. We began corresponding with his fosterdad, who explained that prior to coming into rescue, Joe had been well taken care of and socialized. In fact, his family had loved him very much but they had recently endured a tragedy and could no longer care for their dogs. He then included this picture and that was that!
After an interview with an adoption coordinator and a home check, we made arrangements to fly Joe — now Ranger — from Texas to Colorado. When we picked him up at the airport, I think he knew right away that we were his family. We took him for a much-needed potty break and then he immediately walked to OUR car in a parking lot full of cars, put his feet on the door and looked at us like, “Let’s go home!”
Ranger settled in with us like he’d always been ours. I always say he was the perfect “first dog” for us because he is just so EASY. Oh, sure, he can be stubborn as hell. And okay, he loses his freaking mind when the guy in brown or, well, anyone breaches the perimeter. And he has very rigid rules about dog protocol which he isn’t afraid to enforce. And yeah, sometimes he chooses to ignore something we’re asking him to do, with a polite but firm, “No habla Ingles.” I mean, he IS a terrier, after all.
But despite this, he’s pretty much perfect. He’s never chewed anything up. He walks beautifully on a leash. Off-leash, he never wanders far. He doesn’t bark incessantly and he happily sleeps in as long as we want. He gets along with our cats and for the most part, he’s dog friendly (as long as those dogs abide by the aforementioned rules). He welcomed Mayzie into the family without TOO much protest and I think his confidence has been one of the biggest factors in her progress. He’s just as content either going for a hike or vegging on the couch. Really, the only thing Ranger needs to be happy is his pack. While he’s not a lap dog, he loves to cuddle and, unlike Mayzie, he wants to be with us Every Second of the Day.
Ranger’s always been an old-man-dog in many ways. But in the last year or so, I’ve noticed that there’s a lot more white on his head, and he’s slower than he used to be. Rather than charging ahead on our walks, he takes his time, savoring every. single. smell along the way. Occasionally, I find myself getting annoyed with this slower, more deliberate Ranger. But to be honest, it’s probably more a frustration with the passage of time than it is with him. All of my pets have been great teachers and of course, Ranger is one of the best. At this point in his (and my) life, I think he’s teaching me to pay attention, to savor the moment, and to not go so fast that you miss the little things. And I know that in the years ahead, he will teach me many, many more things as long as I’m willing to listen.
So happy, happy birthday, Buddy-Boo. We are so lucky that we’ve gotten spend 8 out of your 9 years with you and we look forward to many more to come! We love you more than words can say.