Hugo’s Story ~ Adele Boag, South Australia
Timing is everything. Seven days before our departure in April (2012) for a three week business trip to Boston, USA, I responded instantly to the most forlorn, beautiful, grubby face gazing back at me from the AireNet Australia Face book page. A fifteen month old male Airedale had been relinquished to a country pound ~ only a five hour drive away.
I knew my leaving within a week of his arrival was not the ideal start for “The Boy” even though my son would be at home; I was worried that I too was being irresponsible. I felt compelled and called the Pound. The moral support from AireNet was amazing, as one by one the members assured me with their stories and words of wisdom that it would all work out. After a very protracted and worrying week where no one was quite sure why he was there or who would be allowed to adopt him, I was finally given the green light.
Anders and I set off on our epic road trip to collect “The Boy”. See, Rescuing Hugo the Airedale. As is policy for all rescued dogs at this Pound, he had been neutered on the day we collected him and from the back seat of our car, ‘Caliber’ (the name alone should have alerted us) seemed like a compliant, engaging fellow with winning good looks as we drove him the 5 hours home.
This momentary drug-induced illusion of the ideal dog evaporated the moment he launched himself like a bullet from the car. He took to us instantly, as we tried to pat him, literally gnawing at our wrists in his flush of excitement and relief at being let loose in his new home.
“He will calm down, he is just a boy with too much testosterone”, I said, in my wise old dog woman’s voice as he mounted our little two year old (rescue) mixed terrier, Betty, crushing her tiny frame into the lawn. Even her delight at this new playmate was short lived, her bottom was raw from his constant licking within a day and she was limping on the very knee we had recently paid fifteen hundred dollars to have pinned.
I did not sleep well that night and for the following week I deflected all criticisms and raised eyebrows that came my way from my friends and son Anders, to whom this writhing ganglion of hairy energy (now named Hugo) was being entrusted in our absence. Irresponsible, selfish, thoughtless, were constant words left hanging in the air. Hugo was anxious and paced the room endlessly in his first few days. He would only settle when I sat with him on my lap and I could sense a cuddly, loving boy was lurking just below the surface. We were all frustrated by his persistent bench surfing, hand mouthing, jumping up and sexual harassment of Betty, but Mark and I had been through all this before and knew that time, patience and persistence would/should reveal the best in him. Meanwhile Betty was spending a great deal of time backed into corners.
My son loves animals; his entire child hood was spent in the rapture of family dogs, donkeys, ponies, cats and chooks, all introduced by me. This same boy had gently cradled his Grandfather’s decaying, incontinent, seventeen year old Chihuahua in his bed every night until he drew his last breath. But on this occasion Anders (23) remained resolutely annoyed that I was leaving such a naughty boy in his care, so, heavy with guilt, I boarded the plane.
It has been several months since Hugo joined our family and we have had the usual share of young terrier antics. Pillow destruction, pantry raids, mobile phone munching and the accidental near-choking of our dear little Betty when during their biteyface romp her collar became firmly wedged in his mouth. Quick action, resuscitation and we are all back on track.
I was recently asked would I do it all again. “Yes” I said, but I could never have managed without the support from my family, (and Megan you are included here), and the AireNet Australia community, especially Sue Forrester.
Pawnote: did I say Hugo has become a very loving, relaxed, responsive boy who rarely mouths, sits, drops and even shakes hands and I think Betty loves him just as much as we do.