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A letter to Trudy's foster:

I thought I would write you and update you on our new life with Trudy from my perspective.

We’ve had her now for not quite two months and, as a recent retiree, I can tell you she is absolutely the best part of my “retirement package”. When people meet Trudy they always ask what kind of dog it is. I always, always reply “She’s a good dog”. In my taxonomy of dogs, there are only three kinds: good dogs, bad dogs and junkyard dogs. Trudy is a good dog – in fact a very, VERY good dog. Our cat Darby has his own classification system: ugly dogs, stinky dogs, pack-brain dogs, stupid dogs, really stinky dogs and dogs who lick their genitals excessively. For Darby, Trudy is a cross between a stinky dog and a stupid dog. But Darby has (reluctantly) made his peace with Trudy as she weighs 6 pounds less than he does (Darby is a tad porky) and does not eat his food. Although physically small, Trudy has proven to be an enormous dog who fills up to almost bursting a lot of psychic space in both of us. She is affectionate in the extreme and has in retirement become something of my shadow. On walks she marches like a Prussian; being low to the ground she never misses a scent. It seems likely that the Sunshine Coast is her first experience with semi-rural living – since moving here she has gained the novel olfactory experiences of Deer, Bear, Horse, Squirrel, Rat, Chickadee, Raccoon, Coyote and many other fur and feather-bearing creatures. She wants to make friends with all of them but so far has not succeeded. Darby our cat considers her the very worst hunter imaginable and, of course, that’s true. Trudy has also proven herself to be a natural politician and can “work” a room of humans with the very best of politicos. She jumps on any lap available, licks faces with abandon and sometimes when excited (which is often) twirls on her hind legs with her front paws high in the air (I try to discourage this kind of behaviour as it was obviously taught by one of her previous owners to imitate “Toto” in the Wizard of Oz – I am not a fan of “performing” dogs).

Trudy is not without the odd eccentricity: she has rather strange, ritualistic type behaviour before she eats her meals that consists of mock-burying of her food and then staring at it (to see if it runs away?). After a couple of minutes of this she will then gobble it down. She’s gained almost two pounds since we’ve had her and we’re happy about that as she began her life with us as a finicky eater. She is also positively obsessive about the squirrel who lives close to our yard and hangs around trying to purloin seed from the bird feeder. When Trudy sees the squirrel she will physically vibrate waiting for just the right moment to bound out in the yard in yet another futile attempt to catch the squirrel. The squirrel has learned about Trudy’s behaviour and after the bounding will chatter incessantly for five minutes in what we believe is a stream of squirrel obscenities directed at Trudy. Of course this is exceptionally rude behaviour on the part of the squirrel but Trudy has become desensitized to it (perhaps she’s heard it all before).

She also has encountered quite a few deer which, if she wasn’t on the lead, she would likely run after hoping to make friends. Instead I hold her tight on the lead with neither of us moving and the deer are so curious about Trudy that they slowly move toward her. Trudy would like us to get a deer as a pet for her but we’ve informed her (gently) that this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Of course she sleeps with us and every morning when we wake up she’s quite excited about another day beginning in her new Trudy-life. She sneezes excitedly and rolls over in the bed and then bounds out of the bedroom when we finally get up. Her first task when she enters our back yard is to check on whether that bad, old squirrel is hanging around.

In summary, Trudy is a wonderful addition to our family and we are so very happy to be able to provide her with a good home with a big yard where she is loved and nurtured and very much respected. Some dog owners try to make their dogs an extension of their human self; I’m more interested in becoming an extension of the Trudy’s dog nature. After all, humans are highly overrated and we all can learn a thing or two about enjoying the moment as a dog. In our 40 years of marriage we’ve only had one other dog in our lives; it was a long time ago, the dog was very different and our lives were much, much busier. With Trudy, and all the unstructured time that retirement provides, I’ve been able to enjoy her as my constantly attentive shadow. She does obsess about me and where I am and what I am doing but no more than I do about her. She does not like to be left alone but when I must do that she is so very pleased when I return. And the high point to her day – besides her two formal walks and her constant vigilance with the squirrel – is when J comes home from work in the late afternoon. Trudy is so VERY happywhen J comes in the door – her cute little features light up with sunshine. And of course that makes J light up as well.

We’re so very grateful to you and “Home At Last” for the gift that is Trudy. I’ve attached the photo we took of the three of us on our 40th anniversary last Sunday.


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