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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gabriel the Little White Dog

This is the story of how I came to be the Mum of a West Highland White Terrier named Gabriel....


In November 2007 it was clear that it was time to let my 13-year-old calico cat, Poetry, go.  She had a vaccine-associated scarcoma and could no longer get around on her own.  It was devastating to lose her so soon especially since I had written children's stories about her and a snowman named Gabriel....

Poetry and Gabriel were names Ken and I had chosen for our future children when we were dating.  We changed our minds by the time we had children 12 years later so the names were available for my characters.  Those stories can be found on Poetry's  website.

It took me awhile before I was ready to replace Poetry.  When I did, I realized I was at the point in my life, now that all my children were grown, that I needed a pet that was more cuddly than my various cats had been over the years.  So by the summer of 2008 I approached Ken about getting a dog.

We'd been watching the Hamish Macbeth TV series in which a West Highland White Terrier was frequently seen with Hamish.  Ken agreed it was a cute, fun breed so I put in my application with the Westie Rescue League early that summer..... and waited .....and waited.  I already had his name picked out--Gabriel.  Meanwhile, I checked the classified section daily.  I saw three male Westies were for sale--for much more than I could spend.  Then one Sunday in September I saw that the Westie Rescue League would be at the Virginia Scottish Festival.  I felt this was my chance to speak with someone since my e-mails had gone unanswered.  The fellow was not very encouraging about a Westie being available anytime soon.  

The next day I finally got around to reading Sunday's classified and immediately saw that there was one Westie left and his price had been reduced by $200!  He would only cost a little more than I'd have to pay the Rescue League, so I called the number.  The puppy was 4 months old....hmmm....that would make him born in May. My first born's birthday was May 20th.  He'd been the one we would have named Gabriel if we'd decided to use the names we'd chosen those many years ago.  I quickly asked her what his birthday was.  Yes, you already know it!  I said I'd like to come see him.  I drove the half hour to the farm.  The Westie was in the house with a bunch of other puppies of different breeds.  He came right over to me to check me out.  Fate had already made my decision.  I asked to see the mother, so the breeder brought her to the fenced-in yard so Gabriel could tell her he was going home with me.  He gave her a kiss goodbye and we were on our way....
Yay!  I had a puppy of my very own to love!



By the time I got home Ken had to leave within the hour on a 3-day business trip so Gabriel and I were left home alone to bond....which may account for why Gabriel clearly favors me and is very protective when he thinks others are laying claim to me.  I spent the afternoon down on the floor playing with him.  He was very curious about the camera....

Since he was not yet housebroken I left him baby-gated in the kitchen for the night with newspaper.  Well, it wasn't long before I was up because of his barking.  The newspaper was in shreds, and he'd done his business elsewhere on the floor.  It didn't take him long, though, to learn how to ring the bell we put at his level by the back door to let us know he needed to go out.

This was my first dog--we'd had dogs when I was a child, but back then dogs lived outside most of the time.  I had to learn the hard way that puppies are chewers, or I should say my kitchen cabinet corners learned the hard way.  It was a good thing Gabriel was so cute!  Here he is with one of many chew toys and his first stuffed bear...

His little legs were too short to negotiate the deck steps so we had to add bricks to the steps to make them closer together for awhile.  He learned how to zigag down....

When my first born brought his dog, Chester, for a visit Gabriel challenged him from the get-go.  Never mind that Chester was much larger than him.  Of course, Gabriel had the advantage of retreating to under the bed, but eventually they became friends....

That first Christmas, like any proud parent, I wanted to take his photo for our Christmas card.  It took me many tries to get him to stay put long enough, as you can see....but finally success!....

I was amazed at how much he loves to run.  I found out for myself once just how fast he can sprint when I tried to catch him before he caught our neighbor's chicken!  I never caught up with him, but the chicken found a bush to fly up into and was spared.  Here he is chasing after an exercise ball and playing with my sister's granddaughters....

Whenever we can we take him with us on our travels....

But when we can't he watches us forlornly from the front window as we pull out of the garage....

And when I come home he's always at the basement stairs, poking his head through the cat door, waiting for me to come up from the garage....notice his tail is blurred in the photo.  That's because it's going a mile-a-minute....

Once when I took him over to a neighbors with me so I could water her plants while she was away, he saw a frog in her fish pond.  Because the pond was covered with water plants he did not realize that he was about to leave terra firma!  What a shock! I had to help him out.  He looked like a drown rat! This is what he looked like once he'd shook himself dry and we walked back home....

But the experience doesn't keep him from investigating the frogs in our little pond....just a little more cautiously I think....

He finds other ways, instead, to get into mischief--like getting in my herb planter to get a better look at whatever it is he thinks is hiding under our deck....does he look guilty, or what!....

When I take him for a walk I give him a long leash so he can run ahead, but I have to keep a tight grip on it whenever a squirrel wanders into his line of sight....

In fact, he'll chase anything that is running...or flying....

At Christmas he loves to sneak under the tree and grab a bow or two.  This past Christmas he chewed on a Lowes gift card--twice....

And he loves the snow....

But he also loves sunbathing....

Gabriel was everything I wanted in a pet, but after a few months I realized I missed having a cat.  I decided to write a story about how Gabriel the Snowman, upon discovering his best friend, Poetry the Calico Cat, has moved away, wishes for legs so he can go look for her.  He wakes up the next morning to find instead of a carrot for a nose he now has a tail shaped like a carrot and four little legs to send him on his search.  Soon Gabriel the little white dog was on his way and "Gabriel's Tale" was born.  It can be read here....

My plan was once Gabriel found Poetry in the story I would go looking for another Calico Cat.  But in August 2009 fate intervened again and Poetry, Too came into our lives long before Gabriel the little white dog found her in "Gabriel's Tale. " 

To be continued.....

8 comments:

  1. I love your story of how Gabriel came to live at your house. And oh my, does he ever remind me of my Westie Fergus! They are a very sweet, fun, loveable bundle of trouble, all wrapped up in a white package.

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    1. Yes, Westie's are all that. He's my perpetual toddler I always say.

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  2. It was meant to be that Gabriel came to live at your home, Cathy! He's a cutie and I'm sure keeps you on your toes. I'm going to check out "Gabriel's Tale". ♥

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    1. Yes, to everything you said! :-)

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  3. Such a fun story, Cathy. I love your paintings too!

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    1. Thank you, Elaine. I am not an artist so these little portraits came "out of nowhere," I'm sure, because they wanted to have more of a presence in my life than just through my words.

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  4. Gabriel is adorable, Cathy. And it seems from the look of things, the definition of "live wire." Everyone loves him - I loved hearing the kids in the video yelling "Gabriel, save me!" And the photo of him peering out of his carrier in the car. He's saying, "Hey, what's going on? I just wanna be up there with you guys!" He's your lil buddy. I bet he follows you around the house all day long. This post really took me back too. My best friend's dog was also a Westie. Teddy. I'd never even heard of Westies before meeting Teddy and thought he was THE cutest thing ever. Present company excepted of course. Like Gabriel, he was always right in the thick of everything we did at her house. Playing outside, Barbies, swimming in the pool, sleepovers, studying, birthday parties, you name it. He was even a guest at the sweet 16 party she surprised me with at her house. He had a very long and active life, the life of every party he ever attended. I was in college when I got a letter telling me that Teddy had left us, and I couldn't have been more heartbroken than if he'd been my dog. To this day I can't see a Westie about immediately thinking of Teddy. I'm looking forward to hearing about how Poetry Too came to your house - I love hearing people's pet stories. They often as good as their "how we met" stories.
    OK take care and talk to you soon. :>)

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    1. Janet, your story about Teddy is very touching....I loved hearing it. Yes, Gabriel is always in the middle of everything especially if it involves Poetry. If she goes to look out the window, he'll go look out the window. And he does follow me around. I think I love that the best. I'm always apologizing to him because I may not stay in one place too long and he'll have just rousted himself from one place and is now getting himself settled when I'm off to another part of the house and he has to repeat it all over again. He's probably thinking, "Why can't that woman make up her mind!"

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