Life with Lily
By Josh Gloer
Chapter two: Don't Walk with Strangers
When we met Lily, she was scared. Scared of everything. Scared of me, my wife, passing traffic, the wind. She was just plain scared.
I’d never seen a dog with such an expressive face. The first time we saw her, she was cowering in Cathy Stanley, Camp Cocker founder’s, arms. Brows furrowed, ears perked at an intense attention, eyes darting and wide.
Lily had reason to be scared. A two by two bald spot on her right side a reminder of her recent accident – Lily was hit by a car.
The angels at Camp Cocker nursed that scared little dog through the pain and suffering of a broken pelvis. The doctors ordered six weeks of rest, a tall order for a puppy, but constant care and watch saw her through it – something my wife and I will be eternally grateful for.
Six weeks after her rescue, her pelvis back in working order, she looked up at us with what we would later dub “the concerned face.” She was the perfect size – smaller than the other cockers – and her fur was like velvet. My wife fell in love on the spot.
We decided we should take her for a spin; see if she liked us as much as we already liked her, so a walk was in order. It was only a few blocks to a small café, and we needed to eat dinner anyway. We thought we’d just take Lily along.
I’ve walked my fair share of dogs. Growing up there was always one in the house. I made my summer money as a kid dog sitting. Later I’d even work at a doggie daycare as I waited for my big break (still waiting). But I’ve never had a dog on the end of a leash do what Lily did on that walk.
Maybe 20 feet from Camp Cocker, Lily sat down. She turned facing the camp, her safe zone, and wouldn’t move. Maybe she couldn’t move. She was with strangers, and no matter how much we coaxed, Lily was afraid to go with us.
Gentle tugs on the leash yielded nothing. I got down on her level, hands and knees on the cement and tried to talk it out. Nothing. That dog wasn’t moving.
It was only a few blocks to the restaurant, so I decided I’d just carry her. I picked Lily up and walked her past speeding traffic, ogling pedestrians and other wagging dogs as we walked down the sidewalk.
She didn’t fight it, and in fact, it was almost as if she was clinging to me. The whole meal she sat on my lap, eyes in constant study of our surroundings. She trembled in my arms, even as I spoke to her, my voice as soothing as a dentist’s drill, but I tried. I offered her a piece of chicken from my sandwich (what dog doesn’t like chicken?) and she was too uneasy to take it.
And my heart broke.
Never in my life, no matter what the situation, have I ever seen a dog too scared to eat an offered morsel of meat.
The walk back was uneventful, and Lily even walked a little. I had to carry her across the major streets, and after being hit by a car, I wouldn’t have blamed her if I had to do that for the rest of her life. But I liked carrying her. I felt like she needed me, and I knew that I could take care of her. She’d come so far, from God knows what environment, through the trauma of being hit by a car and the pain of healing. Her first year of life had been difficult.
We wanted to make the rest of her years better.
She wasn’t quite ready for her forever home as she still was on the mend, and we were still fostering Murray, the kind old gentleman cocker, until he found a home. So we had to part ways. But before we left, Lily let us pet her, scratch her, and if I’d had another piece, I’m sure she would have eaten some chicken.
On the way home, we both silently decided, we’d found our perfect dog.
Josh Gloer is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and their Camp Cocker alumni, Lily. If you would like to comment on Life with Lily, please feel free to email Josh at: firstname.lastname@example.org