Paddy was born on the Muckleshoot Reservation. Her mother was a feral ACD who had her pups under someone's porch and then declared it a "no entry" zone. Animal control came and collected mom and pups. Mom was euthanized because she was a danger to herself and others... the pups came home with me, hitchhikers on a cat shelter transport.
Fostering the puppies was fun, we spread them out among 3 different foster homes. Paddy was the only brown pup. There were 2 that looked exactly like mom, 1 that looked like a yellow lab, 2 that were black with tan points and smooth coats and then there was Paddy.
Failing fostering Paddy was not easy but it was my best failure to date! She developed pneumonia and required tube feeding and treatments every 2 hours. I became attached to her and eventually broke my lease, moving to a house where dogs were allowed so Paddy could live with us. I ended up being glad. When she was 7 months old Paddy bit a man on the leg who tried to steal my backpack downtown.
Our constant companion, Paddy came along on camping trips, our honeymoon and family vacations along with Allie. She was an easy puppy but a difficult adolescent. She had energy to spare and was destructive. She ate an entire tray of Costco muffins, innumerable sticks of butter, dug craters in the yard where the previous tenant's dalmatian had buried toys and bones. She peeled a square of linoleum off the kitchen floor and pulled down curtains.
Photo by M. FeyrecildeIn spite of this turbulent adolescence, Paddy grew into a stately and stable adult dog. She was bottle raised and yet had some of the finest dog communication skills I have ever seen. Because of this, Paddy became my demo and stimulus dog for teaching obedience classes and seeing private lessons for clients with reactive dogs.
Paddy was my heart dog. She knew my feelings and emotions. She was thoughtful and determined. Paddy had an independent streak that meant we often compromised. I feel lucky to have been able to understand her and trust her well enough to realize that compromise was not a failure of our relationship: it was simply what we did. When it was important, Paddy would do things my way. When it didn't matter, she did things partly her own way.
She was a dignified dog and did not particularly like to cuddle but loved to be stroked and to lay with her head on my lap or at the foot of the bed. She would sometimes creep between me and my husband on the bed, flip on her back and roll around with the joy of being the only dog on the bed. She liked to be touched but not held.
Paddy was an agility dog and an obedience dog. Agility was not her first love but she enjoyed it and did it for me because I enjoyed it. Yet another example of our many compromises. Demonstrating exercises and socializing (and disciplining) puppies during obedience classes was where she made many of her friends and fans. There was something stately about her lying on a down stay with her front paws crossed while I taught a class of hooligans. She could be trusted to stay indefinitely unless something required her intervention, such as a dog growling at me.
An excellent judge of character, Paddy could be trusted to be friendly to friends and those who were non-threatening and aloof to those who deserved it. She would defend me without question and I never worried about being in class or even going for a walk alone if Paddy was with me.
Paddy was a stimulus dog. She could make herself virtually invisible to other dogs by using non-confrontational body language, or she could act interested and friendly. She would stay for long periods without me while I helped a client do graduated approaches or approach-retreat sequences. A confident dog, she never reacted if a fearful dog put on a threat display and she did not require my assistance to behave appropriately. Paddy saved many dogs and repaired many dog-handler relationships in her work as a stimulus dog.
I could write for days the wonderful memories I have of Paddy. Paddy's favorite places were the beach and open fields with tall grass. She loved to run and chase our stunt kites as we flew them above the sand, eventually plopping down panting heavily with a big grin on her face. She never enjoyed swimming but would always wade in up to her chest. In tall grassy fields she would leap like a deer or get the zoomies and race around as quickly as possible, cutting swaths with her body between the stalks. We would play hide and seek in the head-high grass, I would sneak away and then call her and she would track and find me, overjoyed when she was successful.
As she aged and neared the end, Paddy developed seizures and anxiety. She became progressively more senile and it was terrible to see her in that state, sometimes lucid and very "Paddy," sometimes confused and worried when she used to be such a strong and immutably confident dog. When the end came, it broke my heart and my heart still aches for her absence. But in a small way it was a relief to let her go from her suffering of seizures and confusion.
A dignified soul with a joyful streak, Paddy taught me how to be patient and calm, the value of confidence, the absoluteness of consistency and the depth of friendship possible between a woman and a dog. Ultimately she has also taught me how to say goodbye and know that I can survive with a piece of my heart gone. These lessons will stay with me a lifetime and that is part of the legacy of Paddy.
I will always love her and she will always be with me in memory.
Ink by Ed Lott at Slave to the Needle Tattoo