I’m sure dog-lovers will understand, and petless people will think I’m a lunatic, but my dog Simon is the love of my life. Simon and I first met when I visited the Richmond SPCA in January 2007. I was just “browsing” to see what kind of dog I “might” want sometime in the near-ish future, when I came upon the wildest, tallest, drooling-est floppy-eared hound dog I had ever seen. He was standing on his hind legs with his gigantic paws scraping on the glass door of his living room. He was barking and throwing his head back like a maniac! I was instantly drawn to him. I went in to meet him hoping for a warm kiss, but was greeted by a very aloof, less-than-thrilled demeanor. This boy was stressed out, hesitant, and pretty unsure of himself. I learned that Simon was a bluetick coonhound around 1 ½ years old, had been abandoned as a hunting dog in Goochland, rescued by the Richmond SPCA, adopted by a couple who brought him back a month later, and had been at the Richmond SPCA since. I couldn’t understand why somebody would return him, and I couldn’t understand why he hadn’t be re-adopted yet. But this history sure did explain his aloof and insecure behavior. I was less sure of my ability to handle such a dog, but knew I had to figure it out.
I was not in the ideal situation to bring Simon home-- I had two weeks left with a two-dogged ex-friend roommate at my apartment, a landlord who had not approved of this tall, large-pawed, baying pooch, and a brand-new job as a teacher. So I went home that night to sort out some details, call my parents in Lynchburg to see if they would host Simon for a couple weeks until my roomie moved out, and anxiously awaited the morning when I could catch my landlord off guard as he awoke. I felt SURE Simon would be gone by the time I arrived the next morning. He was the most beautiful and soulful dog I had ever seen. Luckily, he was still there when I arrived.
After a stressful adjustment period of learning to care for an essentially untrained hunting dog, we found our habits and rhythms and started to build some trust. We enrolled in a basic training class through the Richmond SPCA, and I found it to be one of the most helpful and bonding experiences we had. It was really about training me how to think about dog behavior. We visited the dog park every single day –sometimes multiple times a day, and for a while, I enrolled him in doggie daycare when I had to be away for long days. I took him on wonderfully long walks – which was great for both of us. I found the key to a happier relationship was exercise, exercise, EXERCISE!!! I cannot stress this enough! If you have an active, young, chewing dog, please do BOTH of you a favor and EXERCISE the heck out of the pup! My wild boy still loved to chew some of my favorite things, had some occasional tummy upsets, and had a few less-than-desirable doggie behaviors. But I came to find that the majority of problem behaviors he had were a result of my less-than-desirable person behaviors. So we adjusted, found better rhythms, and learned to live more symbiotically.
Simon has made my life more bearable, more interesting, and more joyful. He has gotten me through some of the roughest parts of my life – times when nobody else was allowed access to help me. I trust him, I love him, and I know him. There is an intimacy and connection with your pet that cannot be matched. Through the dogpark, we formed some incredibly dear canine and human friendships. We both decided to move closer to home – to live a little more simply, and to be in our favorite place – in a cabin on the James River. We are loving every minute of it – because of the location, Simon can safely run free and I can pursue my life passion. I have finally taken a bold new step in my life with the help of my most special friend – I am becoming a full-time artist, specializing in pet portraiture. My business is named after my best bud, Simon’s Spots. The thing I am most excited about during this transition is the amount of time I will get to spend with Simon – each moment together feels more precious as the days move on.
We celebrated our seventh year together this January. Simon is now 8 ½-ish and has started sprouting gray hairs around his eyes. We have a connection that nobody else gets from him. We trust each other and love to be together. As each new gray hair sprouts, I mourn a little bit – knowing that the inevitable is growing closer. I can’t imagine it, but I wouldn’t give up my relationship with my sweet Simon for anything in the world.
Today's guest post was written by Emily, Simon's guardian. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name