One Of The Boys

Westie Silver

Youngest sister, the bossy one, has nudged me to write about our experiences fostering Westies. But first I thought I would introduce one of “the boys,” our beloved Berkley, whom we wouldn’t have if we hadn’t started doing rescue work in the first place.

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Berkley is not a rescue dog technically. His former owner contacted a rescue group in a panic because Berkley wasn’t safe in her home any longer.  You see, she is a breeder of champion Westies and her number one stud dog, unfixed of course, was becoming dangerously aggressive to poor Berkley, then 9 years old. The night before she contacted our rescue group, Berkley had been attacked by the stud dog and then two of the female dogs had joined in. A vicious dog fight ensued and it was painfully clear she needed to do something. And that’s where we came in.

When we were asked if we were interested in adopting, not fostering, another Westie, we agreed to meet up with Berkley’s owner and bring along our own good little boy, Max, to see how they got along. The first meeting was pretty uneventful; Berkley never even made eye contact with us and hung close to his owner’s leg. But he didn’t do anything aggressive to Max, so we figured why not? And we agreed on a date and time to take him home with us.

Well, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy. We discovered right off the bat that we had one stressed-out little dog entering our pack. He had himself so worked up that he was a panting, drooling mess by the time we got home. Because here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if the dog is coming out of what we think isn’t a good home; to the dog, it’s the only home he knows and we’ve just rocked his world by pulling him out of it. It was going to be a bumpy ride for all of us, especially that first night.

His owner told us that he slept great in his crate; just give him a night-night treat and shut off the lights. He’ll be fine. Yeah, right. The crying and howls and sheer terror that first night shattered that little suggestion into bits. I jumped out of bed after just a few minutes, ran to his crate, grabbed him into my arms, and brought him into our bedroom. And that was that. Berkley was going to be part of us and I’d be the one to decide how he slept from now on. 

That first morning I heard moaning from my bedside and I opened my eyes to see him staring up at me from the floor. And as soon as he saw me wake up, his tail began wagging in that whirligig fashion that Westies do when they are overjoyed. And so our little love affair began. Max had always loved Beloved Husband best; now I had “my” dog, too.

Berkley (2)

Lamb’s ear is a most excellent mattress

Anybody familiar with the Westie breed knows they are full of personality. Each one is his own unique character and Berkley fits that bill perfectly. Now that he has relaxed and feels safe and unthreatened, his true little self has emerged. Yes, he is still a bit neurotic and as he enters his old age (now 14!), he is earning curmudgeon status. But that’s okay, he is entitled.

We joke that Berkley has never been fed before. Or at least that’s how he behaves at meal time. Oh, the carrying on and anticipation as I prepare his meal. If I take too long to mix everything up for him, he will begin clomping his teeth and as a last measure of impatience, bumping my leg with his nose. Hurry up! Then he runs as fast as his little legs will take him to his food station usually going so fast that he skids onto “home plate.” How can you help but laugh? My friend, N, once prepared a leg of lamb for our dinner. As it was roasting away and filling the house with mouthwatering aromas, Berkley lay in front of the oven moaning. Do you get the picture? He is the most loveable little guy imaginable.

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Only once did he revert to his old near-hysterical ways. We had rented a mobile home to take a trip up to Michigan and he just about drove me crazy on the drive up and back. Whining, carrying on, panting, you get the picture. When we finally pulled into our own driveway and I opened the back door to let him in, he barged past me. He ran through each room at top-speed, barking his head off in sheer, unmitigated JOY! Now I understood why he was such a mess on the trip – he thought he was being taken away. So he has learned over the years to trust that he will always come home with us. Always.

berky sm

Yes, when we brought him into our lives, we thought we were pretty darn cool. We would give him a few happy years, take good care of him, and when the time came for him to “go”, we would know we had done our best for him. What were we thinking? We couldn’t love him more if he’d been ours since he was a puppy. Our lives have adapted to him and his to ours. It’s not us and Berkley anymore, it’s just us.

That’s the little secret those of who rescue and foster dogs share: We get so much more than we give.  Cliché, yes, but rooted in absolute truth.

I’ll post about our fostering experiences occasionally. Each one was his or her little bright light in our lives – although not always with a happy ending.  But that’s okay.  Not one of the little Westies we brought into our home left us without a lasting imprint on our hearts.  We all strive to do something worthwhile in this life and for us, this experience has been one of the most gratifying imaginable.

Rescue groups abound on-line. Check out your breed of choice or see what your local animal shelter might need. You won’t regret it.

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Forgot to tell you that Berkley and I share the same birthday! Pretty cool, huh?

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About Silver in the Barn

Life in a 1915 farmhouse in Central Virginia. Blogging about whatever happens to catch my fancy - sometimes nonsense, occasionally not.
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21 Responses to One Of The Boys

  1. Mary says:

    Thank you Barb for writing about “our” beloved Berkley. I have a little lump in my throat because it makes me realize how much I miss my Hannah! Berkley and Max are such bright spots in our whole family’s lives. Everyone who comes to stay with you and Roger falls deeply in love with your four legged kids. Grumpy Berkley…we love you!

    Like

  2. Diane Ahlberg says:

    Oh how I remember a conversation with “someone” who expressed her concern on if she was a dog person- well 2 dogs later and rescues she has proven SHE is a dog person and a dear , giving person that I am lucky to have as a friend who also has rescued me many times!!!

    Like

  3. Gaylord says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Berkley’s “history…who WOULDN’T fall in love with your adorable boy! ~ Gaylord

    Like

  4. George and Pat says:

    Oh, how I loved this! Do you remember when you invited George and me to Torrey Pines and we had a night filled with dog questions? I also remember our meeting Max for the first time and knowing then that you and Roger were hooked. And, as they say, the rest is history…

    Like

  5. carolwallace says:

    Love the portrait gallery — and I mean the written part, too!

    Like

  6. srudin123 says:

    Ahhh this post warms my heart. Say hi to Berkley for me and Max too. Do you think they would enjoy a visit from Aunt Sue if I brought the cat?

    Like

  7. Dianna says:

    Aw….such a lucky little boy. And lucky you to have his love!

    Like

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    I loved reading about such a charming little guy. He seems a real sweetie!

    Like

  9. ArrroOOOOOOO! Grrrreat photos!

    Like

    • Stuart, me boy. Thanks for stopping by and admiring Berkley’s photos. But the question really is why do I not have my own post yet? I am the adorable, friendly one. And you have your very own blog. Something’s not right here. Arf, Arf, Max.

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      • Your day is coming my furiend….I just know it.

        Hey, bark at your peep – my peep’s great grandfather migrated South from upstate New York and landed in Amelia!

        Small world my terrierific friend!

        ArOOOO, Stuart

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      • My peep is amazed! In little old Amelia of all places? That IS a small world! She is wondering what his last name was and how many generations lived here. She is nosy like that, always wondering things. Arf Arf, Max

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      • The peep also has grown cousins there, too.

        His last name was Lynn. Daniel Lynn. Married to Katie Leistra. His son, the peep’s grandfather, was Ernest Lynn. His son, the peep’s father was also Ernest Lynn (Jr.) who moved to Richmond. Actually, both father and son moved to Richmond.

        Another relative, a cousin, Vernon Lynn, had a general store on 360 (60?) between Powhatan and Richmond when the peep was small.

        Let’s see, that would be four generations if you count current 2nd and 3rd cousins.

        Small, small world. And here we are….terrier cousins who found each other on the Internet!

        ArOOO, Stuart

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      • I’m so glad she started blogging! Thanks for the scoop. I’ll make sure she knows!

        Like

  10. Barbara Stevens says:

    Heartbroken for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. ritaroberts says:

    I love this story Barbara, It was just the same when my Ben was found abandoned on the mountains of Crete, even though he was only a puppy I’m sure he must have been so scared.

    Like

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