Mutt’s ado about Bodie: thereby hangs a tail


Nick Baston

A perfect nap companion.

Adopting a new dog is the equivalent to the excitement of having a baby.

I’ve never had a baby, but owning a dog is the closest I’ve gotten so far, and I would certainly compare dog ownership to parenthood.

Many people do, in some way, adopt a baby. Puppies are adopted far more often than dogs over the age of five, and, unfortunately, are some of the first to be euthanized within shelters.

While puppies are adorable, many find out quickly they require more time and energy to train than they are prepared to do. Older dogs, for the record, are easier to train than puppies.

Tragically, my long-time neighbor and family friend, Jean Haigh, passed away, leaving her husky/lab mix, Bodie, behind. Her family members were unable to take him, and I soon learned about his adoptability.

I was resistant at first, much to the dismay of my boyfriend, Nick. We had both grown up in families who loved and owned dogs, but I wasn’t sure if I could take on the responsibility of owning one. I hadn’t seen Bodie in a few years, but the last time I had seen him, he was an overly energetic ball of fur that could be seen yanking my stubborn neighbor down our dirt driveway in the early mornings. She had adopted him from the shelter when he was around one and had been plucked from the streets of St. Albans as an otherwise feral dog.

For full disclosure, I was also skeptical about owning an older dog. Would he adjust well? Would he be cranky? Would he yank me around on morning walks?

Nick finally harassed me enough to schedule a visit with Bodie and Jean’s daughter, Jackie.
The moment I saw him, I knew I was done for.

Before me in the dirt driveway sat a 97-pound, white husky/lab mix. He did what we now refer to as his tap dance, where he shifts his weight from paw to paw in excitement. After going inside and watching us take off our coats, Bodie immediately plopped his butt on Nick’s toes.
We took him home that day.

While the transition wasn’t totally smooth, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. Aside from waking us up at 3:00 in the morning with indignant barks, and ripping up his new $50 dog bed, Bodie began adjusting to our schedule. We also discovered that despite his noticeable overweight-ness, he absolutely loves to sit in your lap and crush you as you cuddle with him.

We’ve taught him to trot beside us during his daily morning and evening walks, and he loves to ride in the car. One of his quirks that I enjoy the most is how much he loves going everywhere with me. I’ve taken him onto campus to meet people, where he is warmly greeted around every corner by students, faculty and staff alike. He’s a hound for attention and a real ham.

When he was living at Jean’s house, he had a nice plot of land to run around on, but he didn’t get much socialization or attention. I’m really happy to give him the opportunity to get the socialization and attention he revels in, but I’m also really glad to give other students the chance to relieve some stress and get much-needed petting time in. Being the utter white blimp that he is, coupled with his (mostly) calm nature, I could really see him being a therapy animal.

That’s what has been the greatest about adopting Bodie; he’s mature, but he’s got so much life in him. Many people mistake him for a younger dog because of how energetic he can be. His plush white fur makes him a perfect cuddler, and his insatiable desire for attention make him amazingly therapeutic at the end of a stressful day. Adopting a puppy would have led to hours of playtime and energetic excursions, while Bodie is perfectly fine with his two to three walks per day, which after he promptly takes on the shape of a spilled bowl of mashed potatoes on the hard wood floors.

At the end of the day, when we go to bed, he gives us the puppy eyes before squishing between us and hogging two-thirds of the mattress. Neither of us have the heart to tell him to get down.

He may not be perfect, but he is an amazingly special dog that I believe is someone we both needed in our busy, stressful lives. He is therapeutic, comforting, entertaining and even gets my lazy ass up in the mornings to exercise.

So, I will tell anyone seeking to adopt a dog, that by no means is adopting an older one going to feel any less exciting than taking home a puppy – and this time, you won’t have to worry about them peeing on the floor!

They are easy to take care of because they will sync to your daily schedule, which you will find you will always have the time to walk and feed them. They are just as lovable, quirky and adorable as any dog you can find at the shelter, even if they have a few gray hairs. And, just like any dog, you will know when you look into their big brown eyes, that they love you – and will love you forever.