by Andrea Elizabeth

I met Loki Monday at my daughter’s horse barn where one of the equestrians had caught and named him after he’d been straying in the neighborhood for quite some time. Ms. Carrie, who already has nine dogs, put him in the maybe 20×20 chain link enclosure to see if he would get claimed or adopted. I thought he was beautiful, but we already have two dogs over my husband’s limit, which is none. He’s bonded to them more than he lets on. Ms. Carrie says Loki is about 9 months old and probably a designer husky/golden retriever mix. I thought, Ben (my son) has always liked shepherd/husky type dogs. He needs a traveling/walking buddy, so… I sent him the above picture and we waited. I went ahead and saddled and rode Copper, a strawberry blonde Arabian/Quarter horse mix. When I rode close to Loki’s kennel he’d get excited, then when I turned away he’d howl like a coyote. After I got off, gave Copper his treats and turned him out, I thought I should see what Loki’s like, since Ms. Carrie said he was really sweet. I detached Copper’s lead rope from his halter, which I was still holding, and opened the kennel a crack and could barely contain him coming out on top of me. He is very strong and can pull really hard against his collar. But I got it fastened and tried to keep him from dragging me towards the barn. He knows how to stop, though, so we did that every now and then as I pet him. We got to the chair and I sat down and he leaned against my leg. I told Rebecca to take a picture and we sent that as well so Ben could see scale size and how sweet he was being at the moment. Right after that, a neighbor’s huge, burly, black dog whose name, Dually, I couldn’t remember, started coming towards us and Loki started growling. This scared me since ‘Bruno’ wasn’t on a leash, so I took Loki into the barn and shut the gate where Ms. Carrie was body-clipping Calypso, a cute little gray dappled Andalusian horse. She said, ‘you have to be assertive and not let him rudely growl, but it’s ok that you brought him in here’. She told me to go out the back of the barn and walk him in the back pasture. So he drug me that direction, and went through the gate before I opened it. I was able to untangle and keep hold of the lead rope from the gate well enough. So we started sledding and I thought, he’s been pent up all day and probably needs to run so I started jogging. He was surprised and jogged with me at my same speed. I thought, this is fun and good exercise. Ben may like doing this. Until Gracie, the 2yo black filly decided to meet and greet. I was about to let her when about 10 other horses started coming towards us. Oh dear. Horses can trample dogs. At first Loki started growling and lunging, but I assertively told him to hush, pulled him close, and whipped the long end of the rope towards the horses, telling them sternly to back off. I had to hit one of them. They weren’t charging, but weren’t respecting personal space either. I’m not sure if they wanted to greet or wanted the dog out of their territory. I had to keep shooing them the whole rest of the way back towards one of the front gates. Loki kept by my legs and stayed sweet. I thought that meant he would bond pretty well with a human. Annabel, who was in the round pen working Cappi, an amazingly trained level 4 at least dressage horse, handed me her whip that has a rod going down the first half for reach, which the horses respect more than the rope. My daughter Rebecca met me at the fence, took the rope and let Loki slip through the bars while I fended off the horses, returned the whip, and made my way to the smaller, easier to open gate. Schwew. Assertive situations are scary.

After we’d left, Ben texted the practical difficulties of having a dog in an apartment in the city and such, but was willing to be talked out of them pretty easily. He finally said he wanted to meet him, so we met last night at the barn.

It wasn’t obvious love at first sight, mainly because Ben was being a little cagey, but I later found out he’d already been discussing names with his other sister before he even came out. She was also smitten with the picture and said she’d babysit “EVERY DAY”, as she and her roommates have a back yard. Loki was scared when Ben went into the enclosure. He barked, growled, and stayed 10 feet away, even though Ben was crouching down and being low key. Maybe he’d been scared by men before. Ben finally gave up and came out. I took the lead rope that was hanging from the fence and did what I did last time, which he a little less enthusiastically participated in. He started pulling and sniffing everything and then Ben stealthily took the end of the rope which was behind me. I let go and Loki didn’t care. Ben slowly started pulling back, and after Loki let him pet him, he started leading him. I told Ben about his liking to run, so Ben did that, and I’m pretty sure he was convinced at that point that it would work out. Especially when Loki stopped and leaned against his leg. I told him he could just try him out, and maybe the city dog shelter where he lives wouldn’t be so likely to euthanize as the local one was. So Ben flipped up the back seats of his truck and took a little while coaxing him to jump in, which he finally did, looking to me for reassurance.

epilogue: We went to Petsmart and bought a kennel for his apartment and bought a really cool silver reflective collar/harness/leash set, food, brush, bowls, treats, and such. He didn’t have time to go to Walmart to get some of the items cheaper. When we went back to the truck, Loki was pushing towards me and I told him he was Ben’s dog now. It was weird how he quit looking at me after that and started looking towards Ben instead for reassurance. Apparently last night Loki didn’t like his kennel very much, but that will take time. I don’t know if he howled or not. Ben’s brother Jordan and Jordan’s cat like him. Ben made the vet appointment for Friday, researched nearby dog parks, and seems pretty settled about the matter. The End.