The picture of the sleeping dog, it was taken by my daughter one afternoon; she did not have it in her heart to shoo him off the couch.
This is Harley's story.
To tell about Harley I must first tell about Brandy.
Brandy was a fine old girl, quirky, brave, and a love. She was part golden, part yellow lab, part angel, the perfect dog to grow up with our girls. After she died we swore we would not get another dog for a long, long, long, time. Two months later a friend of my husband told us about a young boy, with four legs and a biker’s name looking for a home. He showed us a picture, I said, no way, he looks too much like Brandy, under no circumstances was that male coming to our house. And then he told us about Harley a beautiful little pup growing up in Virginia.
A woman, I don’t know who she was, was standing on the shore of a river in Virginia. This woman watched as two little boys played with a energetic fluffy little ball of yellow fur. The boys took the puppy into the river. The woman, perhaps at first, thought they were going to play in the shallows with the puppy. But further out they went until finally where the water was deep enough the boys plunged him under, and held him there. He struggled to get away, they held him down. The woman, a brave angel, rushed into the river and grabbed the drowning dog from the boys. He was rag doll limp but still alive. She dried him off, held him tight and took him home. Home was nine hours north.
The woman lived in a condo, no pets allowed. The puppy was given to a wonderful young couple one town over from ours. They lived with family, the wife was pregnant, the puppy, now Harley and eighty-five pounds was more than the young family living with in-laws could handle. During the day he was kept in the cellar while they were all at work and in the evenings he was walked on a lead because of the close neighborhood.
The day we picked up Harley, the couple who loved him had a difficult time letting go. The very pregnant young wife cried and the soon to be father climbed into our van with Harley and held him tight.
“He was the best dog I have ever had,” he said through tears.
Our boy came home to live with us. He is not tied on a chain, or caged, or walked on a lead. We live in the woods where he chases field mice, squirrels and turkeys; as yet he has not caught one and would not know what to do if he did. He barks at deer and runs back inside the house.
His life is ruled by his obsessive compulsive love of the Frisbee; he has half a dozen scattered across the yard and in the house. He always takes one to bed with him at night. His bed is a really large pillow at the foot of our bed. (He is over 100 lbs now.) Next to his Frisbee is often one of my husband’s shoes. Harley does not chew the shoe, he sleeps with it.
Having lived with Brandy, an old girl, for so long, living with a young boy had it’s challenges. For the longest time when I would glimpse him, I’d see Brandy and my heart would swell. But as he grew larger and as his wacky personality made it’s mark, he became his own man.
Harley is understandably afraid of water and that is okay. He is well behaved and very handsome; he is a good boy.
On that terrible day when the woman waded into the water to confront and save I like to think Brandy was watching over that little ball of fur because she knew he needed us and more importantly, we needed him. Sitting on the front steps, the couch or outside on the lawn we hold him tight. He is safe, he is loved.