In November 2011, right before Thanksgiving, our wonderful, loyal, loving rescue dog Jesse died of natural causes at our house. He was the best dog ever and our first dog, so he was ever so special. He came to live with us when he was two years old and lived with us for 14 years, dying of heart failure at the ripe old age of 16. By then he was deaf, quite grey around the muzzle, very arthritic, and just plain old. But he had been one of the most enthusiastic dogs you could ever want to meet. He LOVED to chase balls, LOVED to go for walks, LOVED to eat, and LOVED us. And we LOVED him.
Thankfully, when he died, I had already been a volunteer with the Mutts With Manners program for a couple of years, so the trainer at that program, immediately said, that now without Jesse, I would have room to foster one of the Mutts who needed to leave the prison. I, of course, agreed, both because I wanted to help and because my house started feeling awfully empty and quiet the minute Jesse was gone. I have to admit that I wasn't at all sorry when I found out what dog Cheri wanted me to take home. I'd taken a liking to the long legged black and tan puppy long ago, and was secretly hoping it was him.
Luke had been at the prison much longer than most of our dogs. He had entered the program younger than most of our dogs, but had also been unusually timid, so the trainers had required and taken extra time to bring him along slowly, gain his trust and allow him to grow up. But by now he was fully trained and he and his trainer had a very close and deep bond.
But as sometimes happens, even though he was ready to leave the prison, nobody had as of yet put in an application to adopt Luke. That was the reason Cheri asked me to foster him. If he could come stay at my house until a permanent home was found for him, a new dog could enter the prison program and be removed from the shelter making room there. And of course I agreed to that arrangement.
When Jesse died, my husband, Steve, told me in no uncertain terms, that he was not ready for a new dog yet. As I, he was very close to Jesse and emotionally, he felt it would be difficult or wrong to bring a new dog into our family immediately. I did not feel that way, but was willing to wait for a while.
Steve travels quite a bit and I am often at home by myself for days or weeks at a time. During those periods it had been particularly comforting to have Jesse around. But as he died right before Thanksgiving, Steve was going to be around for most of the time during the holidays and would not be traveling a lot again until his teaching schedule started again at the end of January. So though we had not yet discussed it, I had pretty much decided that I would get another dog by the time I would start having to be alone again.
I brought Luke home from the prison on December 1, 2011. And he wasn't too excited at all to leave with me. He was still a fairly timid fellow, nervous about anything new, loud noises, new people, places, and things. I borrowed a crate from John, one of the other volunteers, because Jesse had not been crate trained I never previously had a crate. It turned out that Luke was also terrified of riding in my car and shakily hugged the floor the entire way home, rather than trying to hang out the window as most other dogs I have ever known wanted to do. But at least he didn't get car sick! Because I was the only thing he knew, once we got to my house, he immediately attached himself to me - that at least was helpful!
Luke may have been a timid little guy, but he was not stupid. From the very first evening he was at our house, every night when we sat down to watch TV, Luke would climb up in Steve's lap and snuggle in with him. It was as if he knew exactly who he had to convince!
And, of course, it worked or I would not be writing this! After Luke had been with us for about a week, somebody did fill out an application to adopt him, but when I told Steve about it, he immediately started worrying, said he thought it might be better for Luke to stay with us, that Luke had already gotten used to us, that it would be hard for him to move, etc. etc. All his concerns about not being ready for a dog yet, had evidently disappeared? And, since I was already fostering Luke and was a volunteer with the program, I was able to adopt him when I filled out an application that night. Fortunately, Luke's litter-mate was also in the Mutts With Manners program, so the people who had originally been interested in Luke were able to adopt another dog who was almost identical to him.
As soon as we adopted the dog we renamed him and he is now Luka. Our great nephew is named Lucas and often called Luke, and I didn't want my great nephew to have to share his name with my dog.
This is a terrible picture of Luka on his first dog bed in his crate. The dog beds are all big and puffy at first, but they settle and flatten out, so it looks really weird. It has settled down and fits the crate perfectly. Also, the crate he is in, which was borrowed, turned out to be too low for him. When I bought a crate for him, I got a taller one. He is not a big dog, but his legs are really long, so he is tall - he is a great runner and loves to run. I think he might have a fair amount of sight hound in his genetic background.
And in spite of the awkward picture, Luka actually loves his crate. For a timid fellow like he is, a crate can be a great place to "hide" and feel safe. I know Luka feels that way. It's not the only place he retreats to. He has several safe places. It kind of depends on where we are. He likes to be close to us also, if possible.