Milo the Dog by Lauren KateFor years, I have wanted to get a dog, but there was always either a landlord wouldn’t allow it or a work schedule that wouldn’t permit it. When my husband and I moved to Los Angeles this winter, and I knew I was going to be writing at home full-time, I started my search for the perfect dog.
Having grown up with Mozart, the world’s greatest pug, my expectations were already pretty high. I wanted a dog to take hiking in the canyons of Los Angeles. And to curl up at my feet as I was writing. I wanted a male dog with big floppy ears and a sweet, funny disposition. I wanted to rescue a dog that needed a better home.
When I needed a break from writing, I browsed online at petfinder websites the way I was used to browsing for shoes. Spaniels, Wheaton Terriers, Goldendoodles—I started making lists of the cutest dogs I came across. And I kept saying, as soon as I finish this draft (of Torment), I’m off the shelter to find him.
Then one day, Jason and I were strolling around the farmers market in our neighborhood and we ended up in front of a dog rescue fair across the street. “Uh oh,” Jason said, because he could see it all over my face.
This was the dog. This was Milo.
He was a rail-thin brindle coated boxer, and our first glimpse of him was sprawled out, belly-up, in a man’s arms. It was the kind of position that many dogs would be really uncomfortable with—totally vulnerable and exposed, in the arms of someone he’d just met. Mozart the pug would never have stood for it. But this puppy, I got the sense then that he seemed to know he was safe, that this was a new feeling for him, and he wasn’t going to do anything to mess it up.
We talked to the vet’s assistant who was housing Milo. She’d rescued him from a kill shelter the month before, but had done the same for nine other dogs and couldn’t keep any of them. Milo was a nervous guy, she said, like so many abandoned dogs, he’d had been abused and was malnourished. His medical charts all said he was “lethargic and depressed.”
We took him home.
At first, Milo hid under the coffee table. He whimpered in the night. He found one spot on the couch where he felt comfortable and darted there whenever anything spooked him. And there was a long list of things that spooked him. Garbage bags. Balloons. motorcycles driving by on the street. Mariachi singers. Any man except for Jason.
He was nervous and timid and lethargic for a week or two, but then, slowly, he started to romp around a little bit more when I took him on a hike. And soon, he seemed to figure out when I need a break from writing and would nuzzle his cold little nose right under my elbow, toy in his mouth for a game of fetch. He discovered the sunny patch of floor under my desk and made himself a little home there every morning.
Within a few weeks, Jason and I were both smitten. By now, we can’t imagine life without him. The more love we give the guy, the more energy he gets. The ten pounds he’s gained have probably helped with that, too. But he can be running around the house like a banshee, and if you wrap your arms around him in a hug, he’ll freeze. And just stay put like that forever. Because, just like that first moment when we saw him, he knows when he’s found a good, safe place.
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