SCRUGGS COMES HOME—THE GREETING
(40th installment, Scruggs and Samantha, by Mary de la Pena)
With my new dog sprawled all four legs pointing in different directions, horrified I crawled toward my new dog. In the meantime, my other two dogs heard the commotion coming from the house. Hearing the desperation in my involuntary cry to Scruggs, Tara, the full-blooded Rottweiler, started growling and jumping against the sliding glass door. She threw her considerable weight against the door, willing it to move, trying to rescue me from whatever was causing my distress. Fina, on the other hand, more accustomed to using cunning rather than force, used her paw to slide the door open. Evidently, when I had been home earlier, I had left the door unlocked and Fina had used it to her advantage, allowing both dogs to run into the house.
This was not the initial greeting I had planned. Oh, hell no. I had planned on leaving Scruggs behind the gate in the laundry room, allowing the dogs to sniff each other while he regained his strength. I did not want a face-to-face meeting while Scruggs was not physically able to stand. With
Tara weighing 116 pounds, and Fina
a lighter seventy-eight pounds, I didn’t want them hurting Scruggs with the
sheer force of their weight.
But, once again, I misjudged my dogs. They came charging into the kitchen area where Scruggs and I had landed. Tara, who was still on high alert, ran right by me. But Fina immediately sighted on Scruggs and slowed as she saw me gather him into my arms to hold him. She skidded to a stop, sniffing the air, searching my face for clues.
“Fina, baby,” I said, trying to use my most soothing voice. “Remember him? This is Scruggs. He’s joining our family.”
Fina inched a little closer, sniffing Scruggs as she came. Scruggs had the good sense to wag his tail, his tongue still lolling out of his mouth. He smiled his happy grin at Fina, and she stopped dead. Then her little stump of a tail began to wag furiously. She grinned back at him, and came over to give him a good sniff. He lay quietly while Fina sniffed him from head to toe. Then she turned her attention to me. She sniffed my face, my head, and finally my hands as I held the new dog. Satisfied, she lay down next to us, putting her head on my knee.
“Good girl, Tara,” I said. “Good girl, you make sure Mommy’s safe, huh, my baby girl.”
Pleased with herself, she came over to the scrum of human and dogs sprawled on the kitchen floor. She danced around us, her bottom wagging furiously as she circled us, trying to figure out what game we were playing. It was only when Fina warned her with a sharp bark that she stopped to look at us.
“Huh?” she seemed to say.
“Tara, gentle, baby girl,” I said. “This is Scruggs. Gentle so you don’t hurt him.”
Immediately my Rottweiler stopped her dancing. She held steady as she tentatively reached her nose out to sniff the dog being held in my arms. Scruggs took that instant to furiously wiggle out of my arms and stand upright. He stood nose to nose with a dog that not only outweighed him by seventy pounds, but one who was not under the influence of anesthesia.
But even with the strange dog in her house, Tara held steady. She didn’t move as I held my breath. Tara waited as the groggy dog staggered toward her to give her a good welcome sniff. When Scruggs had gone over her head to tail, she did her own greeting. Soon, my kitchen was filled with wagging butts and tails, and twelve paws danced around me as I struggled to find my own feet.