Monday, October 03, 2011

Sequoia: the early years

I first met Sequoia when she was a wee gal, 9-12 months old according to the shelter. She'd been found wandering around town. She was exactly the dog my boyfriend and I were looking for - a medium sized pit bull mix. Another family was interested in her, so I watched with trepidation as they took her into the fenced enclosure for a meeting. They had a toddler with them, and when he came over to her, she sat down and patiently tolerated his pulling and prying on her face and ears. (in hindsight, as a parent now, I'm horrified those people took a young child to meet an unknown dog!)

I lucked out - they didn't pick her. I had to wait a week to take her home, and when I picked her up she had a tattoo on her shaved belly. Turns out their tattoo machine was broken, so they had closed her incision with stitches that would make it clear to any future shelter that she was already fixed. The hair never really grew to cover the mark, and she forever bore that bright green mark.

Getting her into my car was a challenge. Her only previous car ride had been from her life of wilderness to the shelter. Other hallmarks of life indoors proved equally perplexing: climbing stairs took days to master (though the day she "got it" she ran up and down and up and down). She walked around the wood stove, looking for the dog she saw in the glass. My boyfriend practiced his tuba one day when she was home, and she was spooked from going into that room for a few days. She spent her days enjoying the 2 acres of land we were renting. She killed a rabbit and two squirrels that first week (at least that's all I knew about), and one of the most beautiful images I have of her is watching her bound through the chest-deep weeds, and then stop, raise up on her hind legs, and sniff a sunflower that was growing in the middle of the pasture.

When we moved into our new home, she and I started taking long walks quite regularly. She would run ahead and come back, run ahead and come back, always keeping me within her sight. There was a five mile forest loop that was scarcely used, so she got away with going leash-less almost exclusively, something I paid for when we moved to the city. I often took her for mountain hikes, too. Once, when I was lonely and newly-single, I decided to hike a rather abandoned trail. About half way up she came running back to me, and sat down behind me. I kept on a bit further, trying to encourage her to come. She wouldn't budge. Finally I decided that she must have smelled something further up the trail, so I decided to turn around and go home. I'll never know if she sensed a bear or mountain lion, but it was the one and only time she ever did that, so I'm sure she protected me from something.

During this time she developed a reputation around food. She was never randomly destructive like puppies can be, but she was 100% untrustworthy around food. She would eat 20 pounds of dog food if I didn't close the cabinet. She would eat a bag of baking flour if I didn't put the groceries away. My mom mailed me a gift for my birthday a few months after she moved in. The gift sat on the kitchen table, and I was saving it to open when I came home. That evening I found a new sweater on the floor, and bits of wrapping paper, and I was thoroughly confused. Then I found the scraps of plastic bags....Mom had sent me a box mix for cheesecake with a sweater. Sequoia had torn into, and thoroughly licked up, the mix, somehow doing so without damaging the sweater. From thence forth, any packages sent to me containing food were clearly labeled, "Sequoia alert."


Post a Comment

<< Home