Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms”. -George Eliot

What do you write about when you’re sick and all you want to do is get in bed? I don’t know. I’ve got a thing on alexia I’ve been working on, losing the ability to read would be my worst nightmare. Oliver Sacks has that pretty well covered in the New Yorker. I’ve been watching a lot of great shows and movies on Netflix but I’m not sure if I want to write about the shows or Netflix. There’s a lot of things I could write about. I see the loving cups from Ireland and there’s my copy of the Dharma Bums but Charlotte just started barking at the loons. I need to write about my little girl.

I never had a puppy before. I don’t know why. My Dad had a lot of weird ideas like that. He never had a cat in the house that he didn’t check for an extra claw. He said they made better mousers. He had a thing for Newfoundland dogs too. I loved Katy, every boy needs a dog like that to grow up with but she showed up almost full grown. I didn’t even get to pick her out.

I didn’t get to pick out Charlotte either. She’d been rescued from under a Hurricane Katrina damaged house. The construction guys must have been nice to her because she still likes beefy guys in orange vests especially if they’re on large yellow machines. From there she went to the Mobile Flea Market where my girlfriend at the time found her. I got a picture of my Christmas Present in my e-mail.

Anyone who’s known me for any length of time hears about Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck. Steinbeck took his elderly black poodle Charley with him on a cross country adventure he wrote about in Travel’s with Charley. Both ghosts went with me on my own road adventures and I always said I wished I had a Charley with me. Well the little black merle puppy was supposed to be Charley but she turned out to be a Charlotte.

What was I going to do with a dog? I could barely take care of myself. Australian Shepherd? I’d never heard of that breed. I looked them up on the internet. They were stock dogs in the American west they had no tails and long hair on their furry bottoms. My puppy had a tail. I had a defective dog! The thing that scared me the most was that so many people turned them over to shelters because they were demanding and high energy. I learned a new term, Velcro Dog. Furthermore how was a dog from Alabama going to cope with the freezing Maine winter?

Exactly five minutes after midnight on Christmas day a puppy was shoved into my arms. It was the best Christmas present I’ll ever get but right at that moment I was dealing with a terrified dog. It had been a hard day a mean attendant in Houston hadn’t wanted to let her board because of the scared puppy barking. Not even chicken salad made up for that. Then she got shoved at a big hairy guy because her new mommy had to go to the bathroom.

The whole plane had met the cute puppy. Someone had even given a phone number in case I didn’t want her. There I was with an entire plane load of people wanting to see how I’d like my new puppy and the horrible man had scared her so much she had to hide under a chair. I felt like the lowest of the low sitting there with the two little eyes peeking out at me while everyone walked by and said Merry Christmas what a wonderful puppy you have.

Things started looking up when we got outside. This snow stuff was pretty good. It needed to be sniffed at and poked with a paw and then piddled on. All that worry about a southern dog not coping with the cold and she’s whining because she wants to play in the snow more and I’m freezing. Every year when the snow falls again I’m thanked for bringing it back because snow is the best thing ever invented. It looked like I’d get along with Charlotte after all.

Occasionally I’ll ask Miss Fuzzy Butt who said she could come live with me. This is not an important question for a dog. If it involved peanut butter, hamburger, dog cookies or pizza she’d pay attention. It’s important to me though. How did a little lost puppy from Alabama end up here with me in Maine. In my opinion it was divine providence. Someone knew that a little lost puppy needed a boy and I sure as hell was going to need Charlotte soon.

She was about eight months old when I got sick. I spent about two weeks in bed delirious before I ended up in the hospital. This is what happens when you live alone and there’s nobody to call the ambulance but a little dog. Charlotte stuck right with me. I had an escort to the bathroom in case I fell down. She worried when I threw up ten times a day. I’d come back to consciousness and she’d be at the foot of the bed watching over me. She even brought me all her doggy toys and tried to get me to feel better. It was so important to stay on the bed with me when she needed to do her little dog chewing she chewed up the corner of the mattress.

I was in the hospital for three week and Charlotte was alone for most of that time. One of those days was one of the worst nor’easters to hit the areas in years. I can never thank my neighbors enough for taking care of her. I was worried that I’d be in the doghouse but when the guys came to get the truck to bring me home she chased them for over a mile. When I heard that we had to stop at Wendy’s for a special hamburger. She almost knocked me over when I got in the house. They had to pull her off me. You just can’t beat a homecoming like that. She’s my girl and I’m her boy. That’s just the way it is.

Addendum: This wasn’t in the original post but I wanted to add this link to the Lost Katrina Pets page. Charlotte’s mom had to be a purebred Australian Shepherd. Not the kind of pet you’d abandon on the side of the road. They’re easy to place and sell, people who already know they’re high energy and “velcro” know they’re one of the best breeds out there. I looked all through sites like this for a dog that looked like Charlotte. I know someone loved her mom.

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9 Responses to Charlotte

  1. Penny says:

    No wonder you love her. Who could resist

    • Vickie McCarty says:

      When I was 3 I was bitten by a dog above my left eyebrow. Quite a traumatic event which left me fearful of the canine populace. When I was 5 I made friends with one of my next door neighbors who happened to be a d-0-g. I poured my heart to my friend Sandy…. My sister had severe asthma, so we ended up with amedium sized poodle. Needless to say that wasn’t very exciting. Now that I’m coming into my more introspective years I sometimes wish I had chosen a canine companion instead of another husband. But alas as wonderful as they are loyal and all that, my canine friends cannot drive. sigh…. So for now I guess I’ll hang onto the husband.

      I know Charlotte. She and Joe are definitely kindred spirits. I salute both of them.

      • chikuba says:

        Shirl is taking care of all your dogs and cats in that cabin in the sky. When you get up there invite me over. Katy loves to swim and Charlotte likes you guys already. I’m not sure Tig will come though. That cat has a long memory.

    • chikuba says:

      She’s special, every night before we go to sleep I thank her for being there. I usually get dribbled on because it’s all mush before the cookie.

  2. Patrick says:

    Excellent, pure excellence. There is nothing like a dog.. I miss mine and its been 20 years.

  3. Jenny Beans says:

    Joe, this tribute to Charlotte made me get all choked up. I had to get off the bed and go over and cuddle Loki. When I was a girl, I had lots of dogs. Only two of them really stand out: April–a black and white border collie and Buddy–a German Shepherd mutt who was the most faithful and loving friend in the world.

    After I had Devon, it was years before I was able to get a dog of my own. Stupid me, I picked the most high maintenance dog on the planet: a husky. After he chewed up
    one of my $150 shoes, I almost threw him out the window, but then he just sat down by the shoe and gave me that look. How could I stay mad at him?

    He’s king of the castle, and Mommy’s boy. He loves Daddy, but Daddy isn’t allowed to cuddle on me too much without Mr. Puppy Boy laying his face on the end of the bed and pleading to get in on the cuddle action.

    Dogs are true love. They just love you no matter what.

  4. Ellen says:

    Charlotte is a lucky fur baby to have such a caring parent. I had dogs throughout my growing up years: Sheba and Sambo (my parents’ first dogs who acted like a “Nana”), Johann Sebastian Bark, Gus, Heidi, Roo and two others I can’t recall right now. For the past 16 years I’ve lived in places that don’t allow me to have fur babies, so I get my fix through family and friends. There will come a day again, though, that will afford me that opportunity. 🙂

  5. Jenny Beans says:

    awwwwwwwwwwwe puppy Charlotte. I want to hug her.

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