This was Gordie a few minutes ago.

Gordie playing.

This is Gordie currently.

Gordie sleeping.

I met Gordie in November of 2004. He was in the first pod in the Humane Society kennels, just past the cats, and he was six months old. He had been a stray, and his HS-given name was “Speedy”. Even then I could have thought of more accurate names. Andrew had been thinking about getting a second dog. Barney didn’t do well being alone, for various reasons. I took Gordie for a walk the week I met him. I’m not sure why. He doesn’t fit the criteria of the dogs I typically take out. I’m used to ill-behaved dogs. I don’t really remember my initial impressions of him, but I guess he couldn’t have been any worse than most of the dogs I meet. I do remember thinking he’s ugly. I still do. It never occurred to me until Andrew pointed it out: I have a strange prejudice against black-faced dogs. (And “messy”-faced dogs, which Gordie is.) For the record, as well as we can figure, he’s mostly made up of rough coat collie (like Lassie) – hence most of his colouring, and Australian Shepherd – hence the face.

Andrew and I went to the Humane Society later in the week, and took him for a walk. His first order of business upon being leashed was to jump. His snout ended up in my mouth. Wish I could say that was the only time that ever happened. I have suffered multiple bloody facial injuries at the paws of said animal. Sometimes when I am foolish enough to bend over to tie my shoes, sometimes when I am foolish enough to just stand there. Gordie can jump about six feet straight up, you see, pretty much from a standstill. He’s also impressively agile. The boy should really have his own herd of sheep. (We’re slowly working towards agility training.)

We have learned in the past year-ish that Gordie was most likely abused as a puppy. He is submissive, and will cower readily, and pee when he thinks he’s really in trouble. He is very distrustful of men, and will go into fits of lunging and barking if we pass men walking or biking. I don’t think he’d bite – again, the submissiveness, but you never know. The barking and lunging also occurs when he sees pickup trucks. A profile emerges. (I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen dogs at the Humane Society with notes like “hates baseball caps” on their profiles. Pets are what we make them.) He is very protective of me, and used to get upset if Andrew so much as touched me. He loves women in general. Admirable chivalry. He is very needy, and demands more than his share of attention, and as much of his brother’s share as he can get. But his inherent nature is sweet. He is extremely food-motived.

I am fiercely protective of him right back. Maybe because his background triggers my nurturing instinct. Maybe because, with his loudness and boisterousness, and difficult personality, and the amount of effort he requires, and inexplicable charm, he’s kinda like me. Maybe because he loves me so much, even though he’s not mine. Even when he’s shattering our eardrums barking in the car, or leaving tumbleweeds of beige hair under the furniture, or trying to maul the cat, or giving me a nosebleed, or pooping on my housemate’s floor, I love him so much, too. This is not to say he doesn’t make me insane. I got almost no sleep last night. He will still occasionally have accidents in the house (sometimes quite deliberate, I suspect). Sometimes he gets so wound up you’d swear he’d gone insane. He is smart and eager to please, but could be so much better trained. Taking him for a walk is a helluva lot of work. But we’re working on it.

I have worked at the Humane Society long enough to know how difficult it can be to permanently place a dog like Gordie. I know the odds that he would have come back, possibly more than once. I know the odds that, in the wrong situation, he might have bitten someone, and ended up euthanized. For as difficult as it has been, and still is sometimes, I am proud of Andrew for not giving up. And I am proud of both of us for having added one more to the score for the good guys.

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