In the spirit of throwback Thursday, I’ve been thinking about Anna The Fox Terrier.
Anna was not my dog. She belonged to a graduate school professor of mine. Every year, he picked whichever of his teaching assistants seemed the most responsible, and paid him or her a generous stipend to watch Anna while the family went on vacation. Now that I have a dog, I’m boggled that he didn’t care if we had dog experience or not, although Anna was not high maintenance. I honestly think he saw this as a charitable project, since our stipends didn’t pay out during the summer.
And, let’s be clear, dog experience I did not have. I grew up in the country, so there were dogs around, but I’d never even seen a dog who lived indoors. I’d never taken a dog for a walk. I’d never even fed one.
Anna had a sassy little personality, and she knew who was boss. Two weeks in to my month-long stay, I mentioned to the family that she woke me up at 5:30 every morning. They’d never heard of such craziness. So, the next day, I tried to ignore her. It didn’t work. When she wanted a walk, she would nose her leash, where it hung next to the door, until it jangled in a particular way that you could hear through the whole house. This happened twice a day, morning and evening, and I obliged. She also never asked her family for that, come to find out. I was an ambitious young thing, so I would sometimes get up and go for a run, then come back and pick her up for her walk. She disapproved.
Maybe because I was giving her easily double the exercise she usually got, I have no memories of interacting with her during the daytime. I don’t remember snuggles, or even pets. One night it stormed and she got in the bed with me, but that’s it. I’m not sure if she never really liked me, or if she just wasn’t that kind of dog. Or maybe I’ve just forgotten. I do remember that Anna, who was a “senior dog” and weighed less than 20 pounds, still had a vertical leap as high as my shoulder.
She loved the vet, where I had to take her for a bath. She waited at corners on walks until I said it was okay to cross the street, an arrangement we instinctively arrived at. One day, her collar fell off on a walk, and she just stood there for me to put it back on, while internally I panicked.
It hit me one day recently that Anna, the dog who taught me that I could have a dog, is probably not alive anymore. This dog-sitting job was seven or eight years ago, and she was already in her teens.
The world lost a great dog when it lost Anna.