Pat, pat, pat.
The small, furry paw stretched through the cage bars, tugging at my leg, politely but insistently. I looked down; starring expressively up at me was a pair of large, dark, liquid eyes, framed in a thicket of black and silver hair. Hair-drenched ears, seemingly jointed in several places, quivered like sensitive radar. As eloquent as the eyes, they pricked forward hopefully. I read the tag on the cage: "Scruffy; female terrier x." So she was, indeed, a dog. For a second, I'd thought I'd encountered one of Steven Spielberg's gremlins.
My parents and I were in search of a Great Dane -- for them, not for me. I had spent my life in the company of cats, and had no intention of taking on a canine. Pat, pat, pat. The eyes grew even larger, gazing up at me intently, beseechingly. She trembled all over, obviously terrified, but still behaving with perfect dignity. Pat, pat, pat.
Ears high, tail swishing like a semaphore flag, Scruffy trotted happily out to the car, hopped in the moment I opened the door, and made herself comfortable in the first available lap. She has never looked back.
Scruffy weighs eleven pounds, and a good deal of that is attitude. I once watched, horrified, as she chased a German shepherd across the grocery store parking lot. (He ran, too.) Other dogs are her buddies, and she is always ready for a good romp with them. She clearly considers herself one of the Big Dogs.
She's also a well-traveled one. I take her everywhere I go: Cheyenne, Denver, even Texas. She loves to "ride-about", and, I suspect, has a better sense of direction than I do. She certainly knows which truck stops have the best hot dogs.
Scruffy makes friends easily -- everyone from students to business people to mail carriers (she recognizes the truck) to politicians. We attended the '96 Wyoming State Democratic Convention. Scruffy sat at the table with the rest of our delegation, ears pricked attentively toward the podium. Our
Congressional candidate asked me, "Is she a delegate?"
I said yes, she was; and he said he believed it.