The Best Friend I’ve Ever Had

        My boy “Shorter” was been with me since birth.  Shorter was with me 12 years ...

He passed over to Spirit July 21, 2011 ...  He is a 130 lb. shep-rott mix. We’ve been through thick and thin together. God has blessed me with this animal, my bodyguard and truly my best friend.
     In 1998, my family and I lived in Marion, Montana. We adopted a female rottweiler puppy from the Kalispell animal shelter. My kids fell in love with her and we named her “Roxie.”
   A friend of ours suffered a stroke and we went down to Deer Lodge. We stayed with them to lend a hand. We took Roxie with us. We were there a couple weeks. The yard was fenced and a couple times, I found her playing next door with a German Shepard. Never give it a thought. She got to be about 9 months old and we noticed that Roxie was getting fat. With good cause, she was pregnant.
     June 6, 1999, she had 13 puppies. She was not a very good mother and would not stay with the puppies. My heart began to break as I watched puppies die from hypothermia. As it was still cold in Marion, we had 2' of snow on the ground and a fire in the wood stove. In three days, all died but two. I took those two puppies and put them in a covered basket with a little blanket. I had to bottle feed them due to the fact that her teats were too big for them to nurse. I kept that basket with me everywhere I went. The pups were both boys and very hungry, as they fed every 2-3 hours. At night, I kept the basket beside the bed where I could reach in and check on them to see if they were warm and alive.
      They had rotti markings like their mother. To shorten their tails, my ex put rubber bands on them. My daughter, who was 12 at the time looked the one and said, “He put the rubber band too close on this one mom.” Very concerned, she continued, “He’s not going to have a butt hole and he won’t be able to poop!” In about a week the tails fell off. 
     They were about 2 weeks old when they were named. The one whose tail is a little knob was named “Shorter.” After all he was the runt of the two and his tail was shorter. The other pup my son who was 10 at the time named “Spazman.”  Because when he did get to nurse, he spased like crazy trying to get to the teat. We had to make Roxie lay down to nurse them and stay right there with her or she get up and leave.
    For a little while there they all three were under a year old. I had my hands full. Puppies will be puppies. Surprising, enough I’d scold one and the others listened and watched. I favored Spaz, he was bigger and smarter. Shorter seemed slow and clumsy.         
    I honestly never intended to have a “mutt.” For some reason unknown to me, I thought that mixed breed was undesirable. These boys were beautiful animals. They had their mother’s rotti markings and their dad’s shepherd head and build, with a rotti barrel chest. People wanted a pup, but I couldn’t think of parting with either because I just didn’t know.                                                                                                                                         
   We had a little fenced yard. One day, one or the other worked a hole in fence. They had a field day as they packed together and ran loose. Nobody listened as I called them home. They finally came home when they were ready. We had a cable that they would go out on, but only one at a time could go out. This was the beginning of a constant struggle, one way or another to keep them contained. I came home one day and someone had gone through the bedroom window and they were running loose. I boarded up that window.
  We would go up in the Bob Marshall and cut firewood. We took the dogs, they loved it. They could run a muck. The boys got better at coming when called, but Roxie never did. It seemed that she’d laugh at me and off she’d go.
  At one point, a man came to the door and said that my dogs were eating his dog’s food and threatened to kill them if they didn’t stop. I sympathized with him and told him I was doing everything in my power to keep them from running loose. About a month later my mother was on the phone with me, telling me that my grandmother was dying. My mother was in Texas and my grandmother was in Oklahoma. When I got off the phone Richard said, “Mom,” “There’s a dog that looks like Spaz down the road and I think he’s dead.”
      Spaz was shot by that wicked man. The man was a transient and lived in a travel trailer down the road.  The town’s people in Coram ran him out when they heard, but it didn’t bring back Spaz. It was a rough time for me. I couldn’t go south for my grandmother’s last words and that didn’t leave much room for the grief of losing Spaz. I took Roxie and Shorter outside to show them dead Spazman, so they would not look for him.
     We rented a mobile home and moved into Hungry Horse. Then the dogs went outside they were cabled to a tire with a rim. They would get quite workout dragging the thing about the yard. Shorter was still growing mind you and his neck became bigger than his head. He simply could not be tied up anymore. He’d just bow out of his collar. I tried everything. Harness didn’t work, as soon as he didn’t see you anymore, he’d wiggle, jiggle and Houdini was loose again! It got to the point that it was easier to load Shorter up to go with me. That way I didn’t worry about him running loose while I was at work or whatever.
      Spending a lot of time with your puppy- dog, they learn what’s acceptable and what’s not. I did not allow him to bark at his leisure. I cleaned for the Meadow Lake Golf Resort in Columbia Falls. It was only a few hours a day. He never barked, at anyone for any reason. He was happy to wait in the car. He loved to go. Do you know any dog that doesn’t love to go?
    I’d never been single for any length of time. I was very insecure, thought that I needed a man to take care of me. First I thought I was alone. I wasn’t. Shorter became my protector. I didn’t realize it. But it became clear over time. Not aggressive or vicious. Just my watcher, all the time he watched.
  Smart, I didn’t realize just how smart his is. I would go in the grocery store and he thought I was taking to long, I’d turn around and he’d be right there. I didn’t always know exactly how he got out the car. The hatchback, he’d lift the back hatch and get out. Sometimes he’d simply jump out the window. Mind you, he’s never been a small dog. I’d leave the window halfway for good breeze and I reckon were there is a will, there is a way.
   I went up to visit a friend. This friend lived on 140 acres. Had chickens, horses, rabbits, and what have you. Friend says, “Let me show you my chicken pen,” I left Shorter inside the house and walked 20 yards out on the property. Shorter jumped through the living room window. He was unscathed. Just couldn’t stand the idea that I was outside without him. I paid for the window.

I started a new hobby, making dream catchers. We would go into the woods and scout out supplies. I don’t think I could have gone and done those things if he weren’t with me. I was afraid, maybe that I'd be eaten by a Grizzly bear or a mountain lion. He makes me feel safe. We’d go to the river a lot.
      It has never been easy to find a place to live that allowed my 130 lb. animal. To this day I continue to refuse to give him up. The kids would get mad and say “Mom,” “You love him more than us.” I told them, “No I don't, that’s ridiculous.” “But one day, you'll be grown and he'll still be here with me.”
     In 2003, I wanted a home for my kids Shorter and I. I bought a mobile home in Martin City, Montana. My daughter was 16, my son was 14, and Shorter was 4 ½. We adopted a cat. That cat was Shorter's cat.   He still loves cats to this day. What he hates are bugs. I've only seen him get aggressive once with another dog. He thought the other dog was hurting a puppy and he jumped on him. Not violently, just kind of scary. 
     Shorter lies down to eat from his food bowl. I have had friends say “he’s fat and lazy’. Don’t let him lay down.” Shorter’s weight is appropriate for his size.
 Occasionally I went hiking with friends. We had planned an early morning hike. I underestimated the rocky road and my little car couldn't make it all the way. So I left it.  When I started to get ready for the hike I realized that I left my hiking boots in the car. So, I left Shorter to play with a friend's dog while we took a quick trip to the car to get my boots. Well, something that I ate the night before did a number on my stomach. Needless to say, I had to abandon the hike. It killed me to leave Shorter with them, but I had no choice. It was an all day hike and they returned him to me the next day. My friend said Shorter listened to him and stayed right with them. I was so relieved when he came home.
     I used to frequent “Packers Roost Bar” in Coram quite a bit. I would play pool and drink. Along the front of Packers are huge store windows and benches outside. Shorter would sit outside on the bench and watch me through the windows. Everybody got a kick out of that. When I got up to go to the bathroom, Shorter couldn't see me anymore. He would open that heavy barn door on the front of the place, come in and look for me. I'd be on the toilet, the bathroom door would swing open and here he'd came.
     It has always made me nervous when I didn't know where he was. One day, I was at work when I got a call from my son. He was hysterical. He had come home from school to find that Shorter had gone though his bedroom window. He said there was blood and glass all over his bed. Shorter was nowhere to be seen. My imagination went wild. I had to leave work early and go home. When I got home, Shorter met me at the car. He had a cut on his eyebrow. Being a facial cut, it bled profusely. I figure that he shook his head, thus slinging blood everywhere. My son was angry, can't say that I blamed him.
    Shorter ran the neighborhood in Martin City. Everyone knew him and who he belonged to. I guess they thought they were doing me a favor then when during deer season, they gave him deer bones. Deer bones give him gas. My God! Talk about stink! He got so used to me telling him to leave the room when he’d cut one that even now when you tell him, “You stink.” he’ll leave.
    Once his belly had swollen up and he wouldn’t eat or drink. I thought he got into some antifreeze. I was so scared I was losing him. Finally he threw up deer guts! Alot of deer guts. I was relieved that he’d be okay. I had to clean it up and was so nasty that it made me vomit!
2006 Thanksgiving, I took Shorter with me, to stay with a sick friend. The ground was covered with about a 1 ½ foot of snow. I let Shorter out in the back yard. I wasn’t familiar with the back yard. It was late evening and I could barely see. After a little while, I grew concerned.  He had not come back to the door. I went out there and heard splashing. He had fallen into a small pool. It was obviously over his head. He was struggling to get out. I grabbed the skin on his neck with both hands and pulled him out. That was a close call.
     Shorter opened doors, with the doorknob. Bite and turn. I can’t even tell you how many doorknobs I’ve replaced. You wouldn’t believe how much damage a doorknob can take and still work. However, I have found that if I wrap the knob with duck tape, he won’t touch it. Once, I came home from work to find that he had ripped through the back door in my mobile home. I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t know just how he did it.
  Shorter and I and I let a friend stay with me. This friend was 6’7” and 280 lbs. After about a month, he started to get possessive and controlling with me. I found myself in my yard, flat on my back on the ground and this man towered over me with one fist drawn back. He was screaming at me. I was terrified. The next minute he swung around saying, “Your dog bit me.” He pulled up his shirt and revealed two bleeding punctures. Shorter never barked or growled at him before the bite. After the bite Shorter circled him growling. The hair on his shoulders and back were standing up. I’d never seen him like this. I didn’t even know Shorter was outside. My boy, I believe, saved my life. I got away from that lunatic only because Shorter was there for me. The next day I got a restraining order on him. He came back about midnight a couple nights later. He tried to get in. He didn’t knock but tried to use a key. He had changed the lock! Shorter stood at the front door, growling, again with his hair standing up. The man left. I never saw him again. To this day Shorter has never bitten like that again.
    June of 2006, my son was 17 years old. He wouldn’t stay in school. He has a terrible temper. He would start yelling in my face and Shorter would nip him on the butt and that just made matters worse. Being a single parent, I sometimes was too much of a pushover. I’ve always wanted my kids to be happy and to make the most of their lives. I wanted him to graduate and go to Tech school. The way things were headed, I could see no good would come of him from staying in Martin City. I decided that it was time that he met his dad. I got this feeling that’s time to go.
     I loaded up a u-haul and put my son's truck on a trailer. The next day we left. Shorter and the cat rode in the back. There was plenty of room. Somewhere in Colorado a cop took my drivers license. He told me that it was suspended. Later, I was to find out that I failed to pay tickets for dog at large and that’s why they took my license.
     My ex dad his family are all happy to see my son. Shorter and I was put in the street. Here I am in a very large, undesirable place with no I.D., no car, no drivers’ license, and no place to stay and no friend except my best friend Shorter. People said, “You could stay in a shelter, if you get rid of the dog.”
     Shorter was 7 years old and I am his human. My face was the face he saw when opened his little puppy eyes for the first time. I’ll sleep in the alleyways of that big ugly city with my dog. I wasn’t afraid. People would cross the street when we walk down it, because they were afraid. I was constantly hearing people say, “BIG DOG.” Yep, 135 lbs. of big dog. Anxiety got the best of me after I was there about 2 weeks. I had chest pain and the ambulance took me to the hospital. Animal control took Shorter. They released me the next day and told me where Shorter was. With no vehicle, it’s sounded like China. It was a good 10 miles from where I was. The city bus didn’t even go all the way. I knew that it was going to be hard having my boy walk all the way back. Dogs can’t ride the bus.
     City buses there had mounts on the front where you could put a bike. I loaded my bike and rode the bus as far as I could. Shorter had been there 2 days. When I got him, I could tell that he had held his bladder the entire time he was there. I rode the bike and we stopped alot to rest. When it started to get dark, I finally called a cab company. I was so glad when they didn’t have a problem with Shorter. My ex-sister-n-law wouldn’t help me get him back and she got mad when she saw that I brought him back.
      My ex-sister-n-law “let” me pitch a tent in her back yard. She had kids 9 or 10 years old. Her kids and their friends would play in the back yard. I had caught the kids throwing balls at Shorter and got on to them about it. I was there a month before I got a job. I rode the city bus to work every day. I had to leave Shorter there in the back yard. One afternoon, I had just come in from work. I was right there when I heard Shorter bark. I turned to see a boy running away from Shorter. The boy said Shorter bit him on his butt. I looked there was no break in the skin. No blood.
     The kid told his parents. The parents called animal control, they told them Shorter was vicious and wanted my dog put down. I can’t even tell you the emotions that I felt. Animal control came out and met Shorter. She turned out to be a pretty nice lady. She said that by law, Shorter had to be quarantined to make sure he didn’t have rabies. Shorter was taken and held for 10 days. I told the lady that Shorter wouldn’t “go” in the kennel because it was inside and would she please see to it that he was taken outside everyday to do his business. She did this for him and even called me in 5 days. I missed him so much. I felt lost without him. She gave him a rabies shot and bought him back to me. When she showed up in the animal control truck, Shorter was riding behind the seat. No favoritism there. He wasn’t locked in the back, where he couldn’t see out. When he saw me, he started whining. I asked her if he had whined before. She said, “No, he was a good boy.” “He just watched everything I did.” I am grateful to that nice lady in Hampton Virginia that took such good care of my Shorter.
      I talked to some people about my problem. I told them that I was willing to clean in exchange for room and board. We weren’t in the street long. God is so good to me. I took a job helping a 70 year old clean and organize his house. He had let it go for 30 years and it was a challenge. The man called me, “His God sent angel.”  As he said, he couldn’t ever pay anyone for all that I did for him. The yard wasn’t “Shorter proof.” We stayed there 8 months and sometimes I’d be looking for him when I got home. Other times he’d just be waiting for me on the front porch. Sometimes he’d lie in the thick bush and watch me work myself up. Such a joker! I think that he’d think “silly woman!” 
       I got a job at Wal-Mart. I paid off the tickets and got my license. I bought a mini van. I missed the cat so much. I went to get him from Richard Sr. and I didn’t believe him when he said the cat run off. My cat was 6 years old, 30 lb. black, beautiful animal and that hurt. I had been in Virginia a year. I wanted to come back to Montana. I got this feeling that it was time to go.
       May 2007, Momma called, she needed me. Daddy was going to have surgery. I hit the road. I arrived at moms in south Texas four days later. Daddy had surgery the next day. Mom knew what I did for the man in Hampton. She wanted me to clean and organize their place. That’s what I did.
     After I got there mom told me that my van wouldn’t pass inspection and that I wouldn’t be able to get Texas plates for it. I sold the van. I soon started to regret it as mother became more and more controlling. I was at mother’s beck and call. I love my mother. I swear it was weird, being 48 at home with mom and dad and being treated like a 17 year old. If I looked at mom sideways, she’d tell dad and then I was in big trouble. That made me miserable. I quickly learned to keep my mouth shut.
     Shorter was 8 years old. Shorter started chewing his butt and it was bad. I tried this cream and that shampoo. Still he chewed, till it bled. He couldn’t sleep. He couldn’t be still. He so was sick. I told mom, “I have to take him to the vet.”  Mom said, “He has fleas and he’s old.” I cried myself to sleep for fear that Shorter was going to die.
    I got a job, and I drove mother’s car to work. I saved money. Mom and dad went out of town for a week. I made an appointment with a vet. I took the truck without permission. The vet told me that Shorter had a “skin infection.” He said that Shorter was allergic to the “meat byproducts” in dog food. He gave Shorter a shot. He prescribed antibiotics, steroids and prescription dog food. The dog food cost $50.00 for 37 lb. bag. I didn’t care how much it cost. Shorter stopped chewing immediately. He slept and I knew my boy was going to be okay. I learned what “meat byproducts” in dog food was, from the internet. Not pretty.
    When mom came back, I told her about Shorter’s trip to the vet. She got mad at me for taking the truck and stayed mad couple days. Of course dad said his piece too. I know, I did the right thing. I got this feeling that its time to go.
 My daughter called and asked me “Mom, where will you go? You can come live with us, we have a room for you and Shorter.”  My son moved here from Virginia to live with his sister. Sweet Montana, been away too long.   
      June 2008, I arrived here in Livingston. It’s so good to be back where we belong. Shorter has opened doors and gates here. He has already been picked up by Judy, the local dogcatcher. He likes to wander down to H St.  If he could talk, I'd ask him why. Judy knows where he lives and he does too. He loves to squeak his squeaky ball. He’s happy with his bed and his food bowl. This is good and more comfortable.  It’s been along way home and it so good to be home. We’re all family here. Shorter agrees.

~Blessings of Love2U ...

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