Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Year With Magic

On the evening of November 20, 2009, Magic came to live with us. She had begun her life in an outdoor cage in the High Desert of California. She lived in a cage for four years, producing at least one litter, probably more.

In July 2008, she, three of her puppies and the puppies' father were rescued by Greyhound Adoption Center. Magic did not kennel well. She was notorious for barking at anyone who passed her crate. One evening when an attendant was distracted, Magic unlocked two gates and led a little band of escapees, who, fortunately, were detected and apprehended before any harm could come to them.

Magic was placed in a loving foster home. She settled in, much happier than she had been at the kennel. And she forged her first trusting bonds with humans: her foster mom and her foster mom's daughter. However, Magic was at the bottom of the pecking order of a seven dog pack. Her foster mom realized that Magic wanted more human attention than is possible in that situation. So she began to search for "just the right home" for Magic.

Meanwhile, Magic and her humans grew closer and closer by the day.

So when Magic's placement in our home was suggested, it wasn't just a case of our acceptance of Magic. It also depended on the comfort Magic's foster mom felt entrusting Magic to us. We passed that test. But even so, Magic's transition from her foster home to ours was tinged with sadness: the true sacrifice of her foster family, giving up Magic, whom they had come to love, in order to provide Magic with a home where her great need for human attention could more easily be met; John's and my watching a confused, unhappy Magic, mourning the loss of the only humans she had ever trusted.

The first day she was with us, Magic did not want to leave the living room--the last place she had seen her foster mom and her foster mom's daughter. For weeks, whenever Magic became upset, she headed for the living room.

Magic had to learn new skills. Most importantly, she had to learn to walk on a leash. Early efforts required coaxing and reassurance. John walked Bingley ahead of Magic and me, and smart girl that she is, Magic soon learned by Bingley's example what walks are all about.

We had some house training re-learning. Magic had not lived in a house with carpet, and carpet seemed to Magic like a very nice place to relieve oneself.

Magic was uncomfortable with men. It took months of John's kind words and patience before she approached him for pats.

I have observed that six months is an important milestone for a rescued dog to settle into a new home. And the time between six months and a year is a time of discovery of just who the dog really is. Magic has followed this pattern. She is a smart, subtle little lady who insists on being first for pets, first into the car, first to choose cushion or love seat or sofa. She lets you know when she needs pats or hugs. And she won't let you stop until she's ready to let you stop.

But there is a stoic streak in Magic,too. Two weeks ago, she had surgery on her left eye to facilitate healing of an ulcer. She has spent a good deal of these past two weeks in an e-collar, something no dog I've ever known or heard about wants to do. She will ask nicely from time to time for a break from her collar. And if I can watch her closely, I give her a break. But when I put the collar back on her, she accepts it with a sigh and has never tried to remove it. She's been just about the best canine patient I have ever had to home-nurse.

But we are all looking forward to getting the stitches out. It will be five or seven days--depending on what the vet decides. Bingley can hardly wait. He misses play time with Magic. And Magic, who has just started to learn to play, is letting us know that she misses playing too.

Happy Gotcha Day, Miss Magic! We wouldn't have wanted to miss having you as our very own doggie.


  1. We love Bingley & Magic. And they have the best home on the planet.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Mike & Michelle,
    & Jessica

  2. And a Happy Thanksgiving to Mike, Michelle and Jessica from Bingley, Magic, John and Judith. The challenges of 2010 for our household were significantly ameliorated by Windsong, for which we are very, very grateful.

    See you in December!