Pettigrew looks like a rough ‘n ready dog, straight from the wilds of West Virginia who only later in life learned to love the finer things: sleeping on a soft sofa, living in a home with heat and air conditioning, having a roof over his head and a towel to dry him off on a rainy day, finding food and water in abundant supply.
In reality, he’s a finely tuned machine who has amassed a veritable army of caregivers. His personal pit crew.
His grandfather: brings rawhide treats every visit and engages in a rambunctious game involving foot stamping, ears flattened back (Pettigrew’s, not my dad’s), mock growling (both of them), and racing around the yard and house.
His grandmother: includes his dietary needs on her weekly Costco run. Stocking up on skinless boneless chicken breasts, just the way he likes them. And lets him lick her hands.
My work colleagues: bring in their newspaper bags. Grab a roll of 50 poop bags from Ikea (they don’t even have a dog!). And ask after his health when they note on the blog that he’s had a particularly trying week.
My walking buddies: don’t bring their dogs on our walks, but welcome Pettigrew. Letting him lick their faces, holding his leash while I do a cleanup, and uncomplainingly follow his lead through the neighborhood and indulging his whims to stop every few feet. (In the beginning I checked to see if they’d prefer I left him at home. Given their protestations that he is welcome to come and their behavior on the walks, I’ve decided to take them at their word.)
When we do walk with one of his dog pals, I find I have an extra pair of eyes on the lookout for possible Pettigrew triggers, despite the fact that none of his dog friends is reactive! Everyone, it seems, has learned to be vigilant for mail trucks, other dogs coming our way, and cats lurking under cars.
Neighbors: save up their newspaper bags and let me know when they’ve cancelled their subscription, giving me advance warning so I can line up a new supplier. Stow treats in their pockets for the days when his tummy is good enough that he can indulge, and lean over the fence to share a few pats.
His exterior may show the effects of living rough in his youth, but inside he’s pure Lamborghini.
It takes a village.