FERNANDINA BEACH WEATHER

Coronadoption: No social distancing (or extra toilet paper) required

By Katherine Dudley Hoehn
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April 22, 2020

A dear friend recently told me that I “hit the trifecta.” She was talking about Leah, the fifty-five pound nearly two-year-old goofball dog I adopted in late February from the Nassau Humane Society. She was absolutely right; Leah is the bee’s knees and I am lucky.

Dudley

After losing my sweet companion, Dudley, in late January, I told everyone I wouldn’t be adopting another for a while.

First day home

I used that elevator speech for a couple of weeks when people asked about getting another dog. It was like my shield, protecting my inner dog loving self from the need to be connected to the soul of a canine who would become my best friend. The real me knew I wanted a dog NOW. But others seemed comforted, for whatever weird reason, that I wasn’t rushing out to find another companion.

So I waited a month. On the first visit to Nassau Humane Society, Leah (then called Leona) and I made eye contact. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. A few days later she came home with me for a trial visit. I knew it was more than a trial, but played along.

Leah

At home, she seemed really at ease in the house, as if she had been in a home before. It was already obvious she wasn’t the 3 years of age that had been estimated at her initial intake in Texas, but more like about 18 months. Scooby Doo comes to mind when describing her, although she is not a great dane but a mixed breed. Ginger colored with sweet brown eyes, Leah’s ears are asymmetrical and she has a joyful, inquisitive, and at times dumfounded demeanor.

She walks like a puppy, has the coordination of a puppy, and she has the curiosity of a puppy. She’s still a puppy!

As I write from the screened porch, Leah is barking at buzzards. They are eating a dead squirrel, on the other side of the fence, but have perched in the trees above her yard. If something upsets or confuses her, she barks. She barks at the vacuum; I understand not liking it because I despise it. When her ball goes under the chair and she can’t reach it, she barks. When we encountered a very large turtle on a late night walk, she barked. She does not bark when people ring the doorbell or come to the front door, unless they are carrying something scary (like a ladder) but she barks when she hears the automated sprinklers come on at 6 am twice a week.

It turns out that I adopted Leah at the perfect time. Corona wiped out my calendar. We have loads of opportunities to do things together. In the first few weeks, our beaches were open and we walked every day. She loves the sand and the people. When we had to give up the beach, we began walking in other places.

After learning to use the doggy door on the porch (it was scary at first and she barked at it) she has constant access to the outdoors every day. While I work in my preferred office, she plays (and interrupts me).

She is sweet. Very affectionate, she loves to cuddle and nuzzle for yet another belly rub. She loves toys, especially ones she can rip apart. Lately her favorite toys have been small boxes. I put tiny treats in them and she carries them around, shakes them, and eventually shreds them to get the treat. She also likes balls and actually retrieves them again and again….

Coordination is not her strength, which makes her even more fun to be around. She gets wrapped up in the moment and forgets she is upside down on the couch and rolls off. Having learned nothing from the experience, she will hop back up and do it all over again, acting as confused the second time, and the third. She also chases her shadow.

Leah has been a joy and a source of hilarity on days that have become somewhat the same. I miss being around my friends, but Leah is always here. She’s a toddler in her approach to the world and nature, constantly transfixed by the lizards climbing the screen, the squirrels chasing one another around the trees, and the paired off birds working hard to perpetuate their kind. Everything interests her and when she cocks her head and one of her lopsided ears goes up while the other one goes down, she makes me laugh.

It is a good time to have a new companion. We need one another and that eye contact that attracted me from the beginning still melts my heart. I love her as much as any dog I have ever had. I believe she now realizes she is home and I know she loves me back.

Thanks to my sister, Ruth, who made that first trip to Nassau Humane Society with me, to Candy, who encouraged me at every step (and congratulated me on the trifecta), and to Kathi, who helped me get her home.

Please consider adopting a shelter dog. There are many reasons dogs end up at the Humane Society and other shelters and it usually isn’t their fault. Dogs are great companions and every child deserves the opportunity to have one to share secrets with and prove they can take responsibility. Now could be the perfect time to adopt.

PetFinder can be a good place to start.

Katherine Dudley Hoehn is an avid writer and photographer. She grew up in Florida but has spent most of her career in Washington, DC. She is ecstatic to be in Fernandina Beach, writing, taking photographs and consulting under the supervision of Leah, her ginger mutt. She is an enthusiastic member of Amelia Island Writers.

 

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