P. S. Gifford
© Copyright 2004 by P. S. Gifford
It is precisely 7:39 on a glorious September Monday
morning. I am casually sitting
peacefully in my “secret garden”. Although not large in area it has a surprising old world
charm contained within its three ivy covered walls. It is with delight and awe that I
marvel at a pair of delicate brightly colored humming birds eagerly feeding in the blooms
high above my head. This is my slice of paradise.
Whilst I take another hearty sip from my steaming mug
of fresh brewed coffee. The
aroma and taste only enhancing my senses. Making me even more acutely aware of my
glorious surrounding. I can not resist but to smile to myself.
Suddenly I feel a gentle paw vying for my attention
and as my hand reaches down to
scratch affectionately my dog Chester, lying contented at my feet. I cannot but consider
just how far we have journeyed together. As I daydream in the glorious morning sun, I
am commencing to recollect the very first unwieldy steps of that intrepid journey….
I reminisce back to July 2002. A little over two
years ago to the eventful day I received
an email. The correspondence came from my brother-in-law, Dwight, who just so
happens to be one of the dearest men on the entire planet.
“You have to see this dog!”
The subject line teasingly read…Instantly I was hooked.
I already belonged to two dogs at the time…A
third I would not recommend to anyone.
However, my long time companion, Eddie Valentino, was in his sixteenth magnificent
year. Despite me not caring to admit it to myself. Everyone recognized that his time here
on Earth was all too quickly diminishing.
Opening the email, I could not fail to grin…
The image of a fresh faced puppy .The
young dog had a striking familiarity about him, looking an awful lot like a downsized
version of my very own Eddie. My heart skipped.
Quickly reading on I discovered that he was under the
care of animal services, I was
torn…I knew that my beloved wife, Sarah, would never go for having a third dog.
Particularly a mischievous puppy.
Having dismissed the idea as futile, I attempted with
much distraction to go about my
usual daily tasks. Yet, I was unable to concentrate. The image of that poor dog within his
“cell” kept repeating in my mind.
As the afternoon started to fade, I came to a
decision that what harm would it be to go
visit him in person. My mind clearly made up I hastily threw on my shoes, grabbed my
car keys and sped towards the kennels. Fifteen minutes later I was rushing around the
cages, looking longingly for the face that had captured my heart. Another twenty minutes
or so passed. I had examined each cage. With no success. I was about to give up.
Reasoning that some lucky soul had already arrived to his rescue. However, I needed to
I spied one of the workers cleaning a kennel and
cautiously approached him. He greeted
me with a friendly smile and hello. I quickly blurted that I was here to see the Airedale
The workers eyes seemed to light up.
“He is back here!” He exclaimed.
I was quickly lead away from the cages on display,
passed an ‘Employees only’ sign to
“Here he is!” He points to one of the cages.
I peered in. Hiding in the back corner of the cage
there he was, snuggled up in a ball.
Two sad eyes looked back at me!!!
“I want to visit with him,” I told the
worker. I was trying to conceal my growing
excitement….His smile made me realize I was making the right decision!
A few minutes later we were together. Playing in the
visiting area. The first thing I
noticed about him was his highly nervous disposition; I swear that he would have
jumped even at his own shadow. I managed to finally hold him in my arms…Feeling his
racing heartbeat against my chest….Within a matter of moments the racing pulse seemed
to slow down…It was at this instant in time he licked my cheek…My mind was made
“I’ll take him!” I announced jubilantly.
So there I was at the service window completing the
paperwork, writing the check. All
the while a little voice in the back of my head was screaming at me…
“Sarah is going to bloody kill you!”
The lady behind the counter seemed delighted that I
was taking him. She informed me
that I was about to be this dog’s third owner, and the dog was only seven months old.
That he had been dropped off at the pound as a puppy and that a family had taken him
home. Returning him a couple of months later….Declaring that he was too much to
handle. That he barked all the time, was impossible to take for walks, and was highly
She looked at me solemnly. Her following words made
me fully aware that I was making
the right decision. She told me that he had been red tagged. That he had been deemed as
too uncontrollable to be socialized. That he had been scheduled for destroying.
As my new hyperactive companion was in my car,
heading back to his new home ,I
realized that I had to inform my wife. It was on my fifth attempt of dialing that I actually
mustered enough courage to actually complete the phone call….
“Where are you?” She enquired, nonchalantly.
“On the way back from Animal care services.” I cautiously replied.
“Oh?” she remarked. The alarms evidently beginning to ring in her head.
“y y yyes….” I mumbled “And I have found the cutest little dog…”
There was a pause for what seemed to be like an hour,
but was probably only about
“And?” She finally pushed.
“Well”…I gulped…..”Can we have him?”
Another hour-long pause.
Chester barked in the back seat of the car. I tried to hush him, with little success
“Do whatever you need to do” She answered…. Evidently resigning herself to her fate.
“I love you” I interjected.
“I love you too.” Came her strained
answer. Yet I could tell that she was irate at me. I
knew that she knew that I already had the dog.
As I hung up the phone, I remember considering to myself.
“Well, that could have been much worse!”
The following few months were admittedly quite
through the night all ensued.
I quickly ascertained that this dog had been
subjected to heavy abuse; both physical and
mental….His aversion to anyone in a baseball cap was profound. Any type of long stick,
rod or water hose sent him shivering and hiding…I often doubted what I was doing as I
spent another sleepless entire night lying next to him, attempting to comfort him. Even
my closest friends and family joked that the dog was a lost cause. That I should simply
throw in my hat and surrender him back. Yet, something deep inside of me simply would
not permit it. Even my wife and I argued over it….In fact the biggest argument we ever
had was over Chester.
“If he goes…So do I” I used to stubbornly proclaim.
Here is the thing though. Something slowly and
magically was beginning to transform
within him. Step by step he started to learn trust. Confidence he had never felt before. A
connection was starting to strengthen. Even my dubious friends and family started to
reconsider. As they began to marvel at the antics of my loyal, loving, well trained friend
It is now approaching eight o clock. My coffee cup
has been long drained. Chester is
sitting next to me, with that perfect posture. I need to go. Go take the best dog in the
world for his morning walk….
About me? well...Okay, If you insist. I am a
transplanted "Brit" living my slice of the American dream
in sunny California. I am 39 years old.Incredibly happily married,
and father to an eleven year old son.....In my younger days I had
some minor success with this writing thing.Then life decided to
get in the way of any dreams or ambitions that it held for me. The
next twenty years was spent in the fast paced restaurant business.Two
years ago , my life was dramatically
changed,I suffered an injury on the job to my back and right
shoulder. This actually turned
out to be a blessing in disguise, becauuse I went from working
all the hours in the week to being a
house husband.Life has never been better. A few months ago I decided
to start to write for a couple of hours
daily. Just to entertain myself and a few freinds and family.
forwarded by The Preservation Foundation.
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P. S. Gifford's Story List and Biography