Every other Sunday afternoon I have a visitor named Nelson appear at my door about 3 pm. When I go to the door, his body language communicates sheer joy. (Can you see his tail wagging?) As soon as he steps inside, I give him a treat, for I want him to know that good things happen in his world.
Nelson stays with me while his human, John, and my daughter, Polly, and some other of their friends drive to Almost Home, the Humane Society of Nelson County, and walk the dogs that still wait for their forever homes.
It’s my and Nelson’s special time. After the treat, we engage in several minutes of talking, playing, scratching, and general enjoyment of each other’s company. If I return to the computer to continue writing, Nelson comes to lay down by my feet, where I can easily reach to scratch him. Sometimes during the early part of our visit he gets up and walks to the sliding glass door, looking out to see if John has returned. He may bark, or he may whine a little, yet he is learning to trust his human will return.
When I take a break and ask if he’d like to go for a walk, he jumps up and rushes to the door, his tail wagging faster than a metronome set for presto (very fast).
“Nelson, sit,” I sometimes say gently, as I did today, so I can hook the leash to his clay colored collar, which blends so beautifully with his gorgeous brindle coloring. I open the door and Nelson pulls me in the direction he wants to go: sometimes we walk into the woods, sometimes by the stream, but, mostly, around the entire property. We never go on the road, though, because a moment on a road a year ago changed his life forever.
When we come back inside half an hour later, he often settles by me on the couch where he watches out the front deck door for John’s car to return. I read my book with my arm around him. We are content.
I often think of the first time I met Nelson in December 2014. He was a small puppy who let me hold him close just like I used to hold my babies. He’d been found injured on the side of a road by a young woman who took him to our Animal Control facility; they took him immediately to a veterinarian. Dr. Ligon estimated he’d been born last Christmas and had been living on his own for an unknown amount of time. He’d been hit by a car and she needed to amputate his right rear leg. Following his surgery, the shelter called my daughter, Polly, who fosters dogs for them, to explain the situation and ask if she’d care for him until they could find a good home. Polly agreed, drove to the vet’s office, and brought the sad little puppy home.
Nelson was so afraid of everyone in those early days. Yet, as time slowly brought physical and emotional healing for him, he became more responsive to the abundant affection and attention he received from Polly, her friends, and family. A month later, John decided to adopt Nelson, thus transforming Nelson’s horrific beginning in life into what every animal needs and deserves: a home that provides safety, security, and a loving environment.
Happy birthday, a little belated, precious Nelson!
(Nelson, being a puppy, chewing up John’s invitation to a relative’s wedding.)