A year has passed
A lot can happen in one year.
A twig of a transplanted apple tree can gain strength enough to produce fat fruits. A wound can heal, scab over and produce a puffy, pink scar that flattens out and fades into subtlety.
A raggedy stray dog can grow into a sweet, civilized companion.
12 months ago today I made my first post about
Charlie Machete “Chale Machete.”
The third capture in the (possibly insane) wayward dog catching experiment occured well after dark on a weeknight. Having managed to slip a leash around the throat of a frightened and angry animal, Zach sat down and offered food and water until the dog trusted him enough to enter our backyard.
Following a thorough sniffing of the premises, the shovelheaded black creature laid down and stared, panting, at these two odd people in lawn chairs. When I made a sound, he stood up and ambled toward me, offering licks and his head for patting.
For the initial eight months in our house, the dog who came to be known officially as Charlie — because it sounded nice — and around the house as Machete or ‘chete — because it suited him — regarded strangers with suspicion, most objects as teeth sharpening instruments and himself as the little ball that zips and bounces around a pinball game. (We dubbed this activity “pinbull.”)
He launched off the backs of chairs, couches and the laundry room countertop with the velocity of a panther in chase. He’d barrel through the house so fast that he never saw Luke until the older dog snarled out a warning to stop being a psycho puppy.
Even after his manhood was removed, Charlie Machete tried to woo our female foster dog daily with actions she clearly considered lewd and insulting.
He did not pick up her cues of resistance, although he did understand the hissing of a Siamese cat and the snapping growls of an elderly miniature pinscher to mean “back off or you will regret it, buddy.”
At night, Charlie Machete didn’t want to sleep anywhere but in our bed, pressed as close as he could get to either me or Zach.
Although the cuddling was cute and his excellence on a leash enjoyable during walks, I’d be a liar if I didn’t say Zach and I reveled in Charlie Machete’s absence while he was “adopted.”
When we got the call from the Nebraska Humane Society, we knew we didn’t want him to die. But knowing it was up to us to save him – by bringing him back into our home – we worried.
Would this wild dog continue messing up our house and inciting dangerous rage from our golden retriever? Would he one day decide he was more than just suspicious of someone who came to the door? Was Charlie Machete even worth saving – again?
A lot can happen in one year.
A puppy can grow up.
The vets put Charlie Machete in the 1-2 year range when we found him. At best that makes him 3 years old now.
While he is still energetic and excitable, since returning to us a few weeks ago, he seems like a new dog. He seems like an adult dog.
The tadpole has developed into a pit bull/black lab/chow frog – Charlie Machete’s chest has filled out so that his giant head no longer looks so out of balance with the rest of his body.
He’s still a bedhog, but he understands that his place to spend the night is on the dog bed next to the people bed.
If he misses a walk, he might try to burn off the excess energy with a zoomie around the room, but full-fledged pinbull games don’t really happen.
He doesn’t devour his meals as if each could be his last, and he doesn’t bowl me over when I insist that he sit before being allowed into or out of the house.
When my father visited us this weekend, he kissed and patted Charlie Machete, put the dog in a playful headlock and remarked that he couldn’t believe how much the black beast had changed.
To be fair, it’s not just Charlie Machete who has changed.
There’s no longer a submissive female dog at Wayward House.
And, thanks to experience, the people here know better how to set up Charlie Machete for success everyday. Assertiveness, routine, patience and affection are really all it takes.
Although we have figured out how to live with this handsome foster dog, for his sake, I hope I am not writing a second Charlie Machete anniversary post next year on this day.
He is an awesome dog who deserves a forever home of his own.
To learn more about adopting or sponsoring Charlie Machete, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos used courtesy of Fido Fetch Photography.