This (ever so slightly sentimental) post is written by guest blogger Molly.
I've tried to forget my first few months on this earth, but I can still remember how cold I was, how scared I was and how hungry I was. I was born in North Dakota which is frigid in winter and I was never brought inside. I was scared. All I knew of humans was that they yelled and sometimes hit me. Occasionally he would feed me or give me water but then he would fire his gun which scared me even more. He wanted me to hunt but I hated the loudness of the gun which made him even angrier with me.
One day he'd had enough of me and tied me up outside the Humane Society. They took me inside, fed me and spoke nicely to me, but still I shivered. He'd ignored the sign outside that said animals abandoned will not be put up for adoption but put to sleep, but still he left me there. I was sitting in a kennel when a man came up and spoke to me. He told his wife (who was looking at cats) to turn around and look at me. She made a strange noise, came up to me and wouldn't stop talking. They both had kind voices and tried to pet me through the bars. The Humane Society told the couple that I was pretty wild and they left soon afterwards. I was sad. A couple of days later however, I was led into a small room. The couple had come back! I was so excited that I jumped and scratched and even bit them. Oops! They stayed for a while, talking and feeding me treats but then they left again. I was very naughty back then, I can't believe they still wanted me. They vet told the couple that he originally thought I was around 6 months old, but when he checked me out properly, he found I was closer to a year. I was so malnourished that I looked a lot smaller for my age.
The next time they came, I was put on a leash, led to their car and taken to their home! It was warm and quiet. I had a huge, soft bed, lots of toys, rawhides, a fancy kennel, a coat and my very own food and water bowls.
Even better, they had a fenced yard and I got to run around like crazy, chasing squirrels. It was so much fun! They took me for a walk on my leash. I'd never done this before and almost pulled my Mum off her feet several times but man, the smells out there were amazing. I was still scared of other people. I would hide behind my own people and sometimes growl if somebody tried to pet me or approach me. I didn't trust anybody apart from my own humans.
I guess they had been reading a few books on training dogs. They had a plan and went into action straight away. It was so nice to know what I had to do and when to do it. Every 4 hours, they would take me outside to go to the bathroom. I got used to it and learned quickly that I should go outside although I did have a few accidents before I got it down completely. They even got up in the middle of the night to do this for a few months, just in case. I slept in my kennel at night, I felt safe and secure in there and happily went in when they said "Go to your cave".
One night we went for a drive. We went inside a building and into a big room where there were several other dogs and people. Scary! I tried to get out of there, pulling Mum over, but Dad took my leash and we stayed. The lady in charge of us had a lovely voice which made me want to listen to her. She told us what to do and helped us do it. I learned all sorts of things, sit, stay, heel, down, go to bed, it was great!! Mum and Dad enjoyed it too and the lady answered all their questions - they seemed to have a lot of questions about me. We went here a lot!
I still got freaked out sometimes. Every time they brought out the ironing board or a suitcase, I had to go to the bathroom right there on the floor. Balloons scared the crap out of me too. I did stop peeing in the house after a while and my people were really happy with this. They weren't so happy with me when I got my chew on though. I ate some carpet, my Dad's sock monkey from when he was a child, my Grandpa's golf shoe and several other things. But they're only things right?! And I am kind of cute :)
Life was good! we went fishing, did lots of training and walking and I finally started to relax and even like some of my people's friends. Just over a year later, they brought home a baby. The baby made strange noises and was very small but cute. I kept trying to get a proper look at her but I wasn't really allowed to get too close. One day, the baby was lying on her blanket on the floor. They let me sniff her more than usual. I put my paw out and scratched the baby on the head which made her cry. I felt horrible. My people obviously felt horrible too, my Mum was crying. I couldn't use words to tell them that I didn't mean to hurt their baby but they decided that they couldn't risk it happening again. They took me back to the Humane Society. I could tell they were both extremely upset, it was a horrible day. I felt sad that I was back where I'd started and moped in my kennel.
After 3 days, I was brought up to the front office. My Mum was there, crying and laughing. I was so excited to see her and jumped around like crazy! Apparently they'd been talking about me non stop, decided that I hadn't meant to hurt the baby and deserved another chance because I'd been working so hard to be a good dog. She didn't need to leash me. I ran out front and leaped up into the car to go home where I belonged. I was spoiled rotten when I got home, so much love and attention, it was fantastic! I settled back in and we were a happy family of 4 now.
A couple of weeks later, I found myself in the back of a VW Golf loaded up with bags, the baby and my people. We drove from North Dakota to California, almost 1700 miles, over a few days. I had more space than anybody in the car which was nice! We stayed in some strange hotels on the trip and I got to go to the bathroom in some weird places! We drove this mega distance because we were moving to Germany and the airline said it was too cold for me to fly from North Dakota. I love that my family did all this for me. We stayed in California for a few days and then I went on my first airplane. It was really scary and noisy and I hoped I wouldn't be in there for too long. The only good thing was that I felt pretty safe because I was in my own kennel.
After a 14 hour flight, I was unloaded from the plane and put on a baggage belt in my kennel. I lay there quietly, not knowing what was going to happen next. Then I saw my Dad. I screamed and leaped around until he let me out of the kennel, I licked him to death. I loved Germany. I could go to restaurants with my family where they would give me treats and make a fuss of me. I made lots of dog and human friends. Our neighbor would put all kinds of treats on the wall between our yards for me to jump up and grab. There were amazing walks to go on here too and fantastic trails everywhere, so much fun!
After Germany, we lived in South Dakota for 2 years. When we lived there, I got chased (and bitten) by 2 coyotes. My Dad saved me by yelling at the coyotes and running towards us. That wasn't a very nice day, but it made me love my Dad even more. We now had 2 extra babies in our family too!
Next up, I lived in CA for 2 years with my Dad's Mum while my family temporarily moved to South Korea. I was spoiled rotten and had a life of luxury there. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with mast cell cancer and had to have a couple of surgeries to remove my tumors. More on that later.
My family came back for me and our next home was in Virginia. I loved it there too, lots of squirrels to chase! I met a wonderful vet here who found out that if I took a human allergy pill every day, it may stop my cancer spreading. I've been on these little pink pills now for 3 years and am doing great. We weren't there for too long before we moved to Tennessee where we now live. I have had one more tumor removal surgery since then, but recovered completely and still love my walks, rawhides and horsing around, when I'm not sleeping that is :)
Regards, Molly LeBlanc, aged 13 & 3/4.