Judging by the look on her face, it would appear as though Libby, The Labish Dog, has heretofore never experienced the joyous mélange of flavors and excitement contained within the confines of a 13-gallon urn of kitchen-based household trash.
Considering that mine is at least the third household to host the 18-month-old mixed breed in her short life, I find that hard to believe.
Libby is a rescue dog, rescued by my youngest from a shelter in the western part of the state and from previous owners who mistook her puppyish exuberance for obstinacy, her need for attention for annoyance and her love of wrestling as aggression.
She is sweet: She always licks your hand after she inadvertently pierces it with her teeth.
She is kind: She always snuggles after an exhausting game of Toss the Floppy Fox Toy, an activity that involves me laughing hysterically as she knocks off knick-knacks and bric-a-brac while slamming into furniture, sliding on the slick, hardwood floors.
She is never boring: She provides a twinge of excitement as the door key turns and I wonder if her love of Shenandoah Joe coffee has led her to surmount the obstacles placed on the kitchen counter to discourage her from pulling down the container and eating several mouthfuls before redecorating the living room with the remainder.
Libby came to my home two months after my old hound dog went to The Big Hunt. After a brisk Saturday morning walk, I had left Hershey to rest while I attended to some issues at the office. When I came back I found her still on the kitchen floor, cold to the touch and surrounded by evidence of internal bleeding.
I scooped her up, all limp and floppy, and put her in the car, sure I was taking her to the emergency vet to be given The Last Shot. As I pulled her out of the car and carried her into the office, she licked my nose one last time.
She knew, and my brain knew, but my heart ignored us both.
According to the Internet, bleeding from the spleen could be surgically corrected in dogs her age and she could be expected to live a normal life for more years to come. So hope loosed reality’s grip and I approved a surgery the Internet said she had about a 90 percent chance of surviving.
Unfortunately, she beat the odds.
Dogless for the first time in three decades, I reveled in not having to sneak out of work to walk the mutt. I basked in staying out with friends without having to rush home before accident time. I savored the free time that would allow me to do all sorts of great tasks, none of which was ever started.
I made it two months before The Youngest called and said I needed a dog. No, I argued, I did not. Well, she said, this dog needs you.
In a few short weeks Libby has populated the house with assorted desqueaked toys until the living quarters resemble a backwoods road replete with stuffed toy road kill.
In that time, The Labish Dog has made friends all over the neighborhood, never having met a dog, person or cat she didn’t like.
We have wrestled (score Libby 4, Old Man 0, plus several Band Aids). We have created new sleeping schedules, beginning at 11 p.m. and ending at 5 a.m. We have discovered new forms of dog treats, from peanuts and cashews to bananas and broccoli.
We have discovered together just how much fun a rescue dog can be and how much I needed to be rescued.