Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bonnie Lass, The Story of a Rescued Sheltie!

This adventure started with an email from our friend Bob who had received an email from his friend Judy who worked in a veterinary office. An elderly couple, both in ill health, needed a home for their tiny two year-old Shetland sheepdog. My friend wanted to know if I knew of anyone who wanted a very nice very small female sheltie.

Heart pounding, I wrote back, “I want her!” What was I thinking? Jim just shook his head. We already had two shelties. Two were a couple; three would be a crowd!

A few days later, we traveled an hour away to the elderly couple’s condo to “interview” the pup. Invited in, we were met with a frenzy of barking and circling. “She’s a real sweetheart,” the husband told us. “Our neighbors won’t even talk to us anymore, she makes so much noise,” his wife said, shaking her head.

Maybe that should have been a clue for us to leave, but we didn’t.

“Maybe she’ll sit with me, “ I said.

“Oh, she doesn’t like people,” the couple chimed in together.


“Well, let’s just see about that,” I said. “How about if you pick her up and set her over here next to me?” I sat down on the sofa. He picked up the terrorizer and placed her next to me. The sheltie settled down at once. “Well, well,” I said to her. “How about that?”

The dog had been purchased by their son who feared they were too lonely in their retirement and needed company. This little live wire was the last thing these folks needed; they could barely get a leash snapped onto the kid’s collar.

“What’s her name?” I asked.

“I named her Bonnie Lass,” the husband said. “You know, like ‘my bonnie lies over the ocean’!” It was obvious he loved the little kid a lot.

“We’ll give her a good home,” I promised.

We’d barely left the condo when little sable and white Bonnie Lass—predictably—became extremely anxious. Outside of a scary ride as a tiny pup in a plane from her breeder in Kansas to her condo home in Michigan, she had not been inside a vehicle. Here she was in a strange vehicle with two strange people. I tried to comfort her, holding her in my lap, but she just couldn’t be still. The hour-long ride felt like an all-day event. But, finally, we made it back home.

Our two shelties at home, Ginger and Carrie, were just happy to have us back. Another mouth to feed? No problem. They could see we’d brought in yet another crate for the new kid. They nosed her gently, sort of looked at each other and figured out she was no big threat to the pecking order. This little pooch was no Alpha Dog! (So they thought…)

We’d managed to eat up most of the day with our adventure, so it was TV time and then to bed for everyone. But what about Bonnie? They—the condo couple—told us she was used to a crate so sleeping should be no problem. Hmmm…one wouldn’t think elderly folks would fib, would they?

It was only a few hours after we’d all gone to bed that she started. I wouldn’t call it howling exactly. Whining maybe? No, more like barking. Yes, that was it! Barking. All night long!

We had purchased a nice big crate just for her and set it in the dining room where there seemed to be the most available open space. The other two shelties had their individual crates in the kitchen, but there just didn’t seem to be enough room for a third crate. On day two, however, when push came to shove, we pushed and shoved until we could finally add in a third crate. Surely now Bonnie would feel better being side by side with her new “siblings.” Wrong!

“I don’t know what you’re going to do,” Jim said, “but three dogs are just too many!” This, after a week of all-night hullabalooing from the kitchen.

Ginger and Carrie just looked at me with sad eyes and kind of slunk off to quiet corners where they could lie down in peace…get some rest. Forget trying to get any shut-eye once the sun went down and the night terrors began again!

Not only was my husband looking groggy, but so were the resident shelties, Ginger and Carrie. I wasn’t feeling too chipper myself. And, Bonnie? Well, Bonnie was happy as a lark…once morning came! Smiling! Sleeping! Settling in!

“What in the world am I going to do?” I agonized…not wanting to face the inevitable.

Not only was the whole family—except Bonnie—tired, they were also getting ornery. Not getting enough sleep will do that, we all quickly learned. Jim’s long face was nothing compared with the long-nosed stares I kept getting from the resident shelties, Ginger and Carrie.

I was beside myself. Finding a new home for Bonnie Lass started to creep into my thoughts. But even as the second week of all-night barking came to a close, I knew that I just couldn’t do that. I’d promised the condo couple I’d take good care of her, didn’t I? And, besides, she was only two years old…and so so sweet…during the day!

That’s when she bit me!

I’d discovered her on the sofa in the living room, shredding a piece of tissue she’s obviously “found” in the bathroom trash.

“No, you don’t!” I said, taking the tissue away from her.

Snap! Ouch! What?

We had a brief stare-down contest and, since she was winning, I decided to just forget the whole thing.

Rationalizing the situation, I told myself that Bonnie and I barely knew each. We could easily part, couldn’t we? If I found a good home for her, everyone would get back to normal. Everyone would be happier, wouldn’t they?

Against that inner voice that kept telling me not to, I called my friend Carol who had sadly lost her 14 year-old dog two weeks earlier.

“She’s a wonderful little dog,” I told my friend. “And you need a new pet around the house.” I was such a scammer. (Well Bonnie was a wonderful little dog and my friend did need a new pet. Still, I felt my nose growing long and fast as I left out the part about the all-night barking.)

But Carol wasn’t ready for a new dog. However, she had a friend—Mary from work—who already had an eight year-old sheltie, who might be willing to take Bonnie.

After a phone call to Carol’s friend Mary, I learned the following:

1) Mary already knew my daughter since her son and my daughter had been in a musical theater production together.

2) She’d even brought my daughter flowers on opening night!

3) Whew!

4) Mary was not some stranger off the street!

5) And, best of all, she knew shelties!

6) She would provide the perfect home for my little Bonnie.

When Mary arrived to pick up little Bonnie Lass, the little sheltie was delighted to see her. I must admit I felt a little jealous about that. But I had to remember that Bonnie would soon be Mary’s dog—not mine anymore. I’d picked the perfect home.

“Remember,” Mary said as she was leading little Bonnie to the door on her leash, “you can have her back, if you need her.”

“Oh, I don’t think that will happen,” I said, my heart starting to break just a little. “Everyone around here needs a good rest.” (I’d been a good person. I’d told the truth about the night barking and Mary wanted her anyway. She was a good woman!)

“Well, you never know,” Mary said. “I once gave a cat away and had to go back and get her a week later.”

“Thanks, Mary,” I said, sadly watching the two of them prance out my door. “I appreciate that.”

“You did the right thing,” Jim said.

“Sure…” I sat silently watching the news on TV. The local Stop and Go’s were being bought by some big grocery chain. A 3-car pile-up had occurred out on 94. A cat had been rescued from a tree by a fire-fighting team. An airport official reported another strike could raise costs even higher. The Humane Society was having a walkathon for people and their dogs.

My little dog was gone!

I kept telling myself it was for the best. She would be better off. We would be better off. Jim and the “big dogs” would get some rest. We would all get some sleep!

I crawled into bed and listened to the silence.

Bonnie was gone!

I didn’t sleep a wink all night.

Tired and sad the next day, I tried to keep busy, think of other things—anything but Bonnie Lass. But that was impossible. No matter how hard I tried, my thoughts kept going back again and again to the little pooch that so recently pranced into—and out of—my life.

The second day was the same. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I picked up the phone and called Mary.

“How’s Bonnie doing?” I asked.

“Oh, she doing fine,” Mary responded. “She’s a real sweetheart!”

What was I hoping to hear? Of course, I wanted to hear she was doing fine. Then, why did that bother me?

“Yes, she is,” I answered. “What about at night?” I asked. (That would tell the tale!)

“Oh she sleeps like a log,” Mary laughed. (What?)

“She doesn’t bark all night?” I was astonished.

“Well, no she doesn’t,” Mary answered. (What was going on here?)

“Does she sleep in her crate?” I asked. (The detective in me was getting close to the truth and I knew it!)

“Nope,” Mary announced. “She sleeps in bed with me.”

“Oh…” What else could I say? Bonnie belonged to Mary now. It wasn’t up to me where she slept. “Well, I’m glad everything’s okay,” I managed to get out.

“Coralie, are you missing her?” Mary asked suddenly.

“Oh, I guess I am, but I’ll get over it,” I answered, not so sure this was true.

“Well, just remember what I said. If you need her back, you just have to say so,” Mary offered.

“Thanks,” I hung up, knowing I had to stop this nonsense.

“Mary said we could have Bonnie back, if we need to,” I told Jim that evening.

“Well, I don’t think that’s a good idea, do you?” he answered. He was finally getting some rest!

“No, I suppose not,” I said glumly. No one cared if my dog was gone…no one, but me.

I promised myself I would not call Mary again, at least for a while. But, after a few days, I just had to know how Bonnie Lass was doing.

“Hi Mary,” I said into the phone. “How’s she doing?”

“Oh, she’s just wonderful!” Mary answered. “She’s an absolute sweetheart.”

“How about at night?” I hated to ask, but I couldn’t help myself.

“Sleeps all night,” Mary answered.

“That’s good…sorry to keep bothering you,” I said lamely.

“Oh, it’s no bother at all!” Mary laughed. Sure, she was happy. Why wouldn’t she be happy! She had my dog!

My dog…

“Are you crying,” Jim asked. “You’re not crying about this are you?” We were watching some ridiculous Dr. Phil segment about what not to say and do on your first date.

“No, of course not!” That he would even ask such a silly question was way too funny, but I was in no mood for funny.

“Well, what, then?” he couldn’t believe his eyes.

“I miss Bonnie!” I wailed.

“You hardly know that dog,” he said.

“I know everything about her! And I miss her!” I couldn’t stop crying. “I can’t help it!”

Jim took a deep breath. “Well, maybe you’d better give Mary another call.”

“I can’t take her away from Mary!” I cried even harder.

I held off calling for two more days. Bonnie had been gone a whole week. Then, I couldn’t stand it anymore. I had to know how she was.

“How is she?” I asked sheepishly, knowing all too well I was being a pest.

“She’s fine, Coralie,” Mary answered. “But I think we both know what has to happen.”

“Oh, Mary…” I said, relief flooding in, “I’m sorry…”

“It’s okay. I’ll bring her by tomorrow evening,” Mary said.

They were barely in the door, when Bonnie bounded across the room, leaped into my lap and started licking my face. But before I could even get my arms around her, she was gone! She had bounced up into Jim’s lap and was burrowing her head under his arm with her snoot and rolling over while wagging her tail the whole time.

“I guess we know whose dog she really is.” Mary couldn’t help but laugh.

I didn’t care whose dog she thought she was! She was mine and she was home!


  1. Ahh, Coralie, What a beautiful story! She was meant for you, you just didn't know it when she was crying in her crate. Where does she sleep and how did she do when you got her back? She's adorable, I can't believe I've missed reading this before. Blessings to you and yours.

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  3. She sleeps in the bedroom...where else! What a little stinker she is but we love her more than I can say. As soon as we allowed her to sleep on the floor on a soft mat alongside the bed she settled down and no more barking! It took her a while to train us, but she finally got us to understand that she would sleep where she chose and we didn't have a say!
    And she's been good for nine whole years since she came to live with us!!!
    Don't you love it!
    Thanks for your sweet comments!
    Blessings and big hugs!