This is part two of Judah’s story. We have come a long way from where we started, and everyone wants to know how we got here. So here is our story.
Part 2: Wolf Totem
After sending away for my passport the anticipation was killing me. The only thing that kept me going was the constant updates from the pup’s foster mom. She sent me messages and videos almost everyday, I was always getting updated on his size, socialization and fun puppy moments. I received pictures and videos and even the birthing video of his first entrance to this world! The people involved in Eleven Eleven Animal Rescue are incredible and dedicated individuals who are in it for purely the knowledge that they have saved a furry (or feathered) life. Inspiring and loving these people deserve a lot of appreciation and commendation.
Suddenly my passport came in! A week earlier than expected, I contacted the pup’s foster mom (Joanne) and told her I would come and get him on my next day off, she agreed that this would work. It just so happened that my next day off was a Thursday, April Fool’s Day and the day that he turned eight weeks old. It really was meant to be. I had tentatively picked a name Judah (which I obviously kept), it was from a TV show (Weeds on HBO) and ever since the first time I heard it on the show (before ever deciding to get a dog) I had fallen in love with it. The anticipation of going to get my new “clean slate” puppy (as I began to call him, a product of rehabilitating so many rescues) was killing me! My new room mate was very excited for me as well and we couldn’t wait to get him home and add him to the dogs already living in our apartment and up stairs in the main house. I had made plans with Joanne for her to meet me just over the boarder around eleven in the morning. Needless to say I didn’t sleep AT ALL that night.
My alarm went off at 4 am that Thursday morning and I sprung out of bed. I through my clothes on, grabbed my bag, I had packed it the night before with snacks, extra clothes and the new leash and collar (Lupine of coarse!) and headed out the door. I was living in Madison, NH at the time and headed out over the Kancamagus Highway. This is a scenic byway from Conway to Lincoln over the mountains, it is a beautiful way to get from one area of the state to another. I have lived in this area my entire life and know it very well, I’ve also driven over the “Kanc” (as us locals call it) countless times. I have never seen anything like I saw that morning, never. It was still pretty dark outside when I took off from my apartment and headed out over the Kanc. As I listened to the radio and tried to shove the butterflies back down into my stomach the sun began to come up and light up the sky. Driving my little VW New Beetle through the woods I came to an area with open space on both sides of the road before the forest began again. Out of the corner of my right eye I saw a flash and took my foot off the accelerator as I turned my head. After realizing what I saw I slammed on the breaks and prayed I wouldn’t slide. It was a wolf. I know, I know, “we don’t have wolves in NH anymore”. I have been around K9s my whole life and have even had the pleasure of meeting wolf hybrids in person, I know the difference. It was a wolf.
He (I obviously don’t know if it was really a he) was absolutely huge, and white. This was not a dog, this was not a pet that had run off, this was a creature of this wild earth. He came from the right side of the street and was crossing in front of me soon after. As I slammed my breaks on he was in front of my car, he was so close that my headlight on his shoulder (yes SHOULDER, he was that tall) was a small circle of light not bigger than a tea cup saucer. He didn’t even hesitate, he looked up at the windshield ( it felt like he looked right into me) he dropped his shoulder towards the car and braced himself for impact. He managed to cross in front of me and make it to the other side of the road. Here he never looked back he continued over the open space and headed up into the woods. I immediately pulled off the road and grabbed my cell phone, I opened it and damn! No service?! I wanted so badly to call my room mate and tell her what I had just seen, alas no such luck. I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car, I was hoping to at least see some tracks to take a picture of as evidence. As I searched the shoulder of the road and then up into the field area I stopped, what was I doing?! I had places to be! I was disappointed that I had no way to prove what I had seen, no one would believe me, but I had the new love of my life waiting on me!
I jumped back into my little Bug and continued down the road, I was still trying to wrap my mind around what I had just seen. Unbelievable. To this day I still am amazed by what happened that early morning.
I didn’t really follow directions on my journey, I followed a map and decided that it was important I was in a good state of mind when I met my new companion. This meant (for me) that I would travel North and then West traveling along the border. It was beautiful and a rather uneventful trip. After crossing into New York I began to get closer to the border and had to start reminding myself to remain sane. Just before the border crossing I stopped at the “last stop before the border” store and changed from my sweatpants into a skirt. I threw the sweatpants into the small crate that I had buckled into the back seat of the car. I was early so I sat in the grass trying to quell my excitement (rather unsuccessfully to be honest), and watched the fluffy clouds in the sky. Finally it was close enough eleven and I jumped back in my car. I pulled up to the customs check point and presented my passport card. The woman doing the checking asked where the dog was that belonged in the crate in my back seat, and I explained that I was going into the country to pick up my new puppy. Next she asked how long I would be staying, I smiled (the excitement started to get the better of me again) “I am going right over there, picking up my puppy and going home.” She tried to hide a little smirk and told me to have a nice day while handing me back my passport.
I made it across the border and texting back and forth with Joanne and finally getting our wires wrapped the right way we met at a small hotel (I believe) within view of the border crossing. I pulled into the parking lot next to Joanne’s car. She smiled and shook my hand and then opened the back of her car, there in a crate was my boy! He was all tongue and ears! He was covered in drool and was screaming a delightful (that is a sarcastic delightful) sound out of his little eight week old body. She scooped him up and I snapped his collar on, then she put him straight into the crate in my back seat and we went inside to fill out the paperwork and make it official. After paperwork and a quick hug I jumped in my car and headed back out on the road. Thinking back on it now part of me wishes that I had insisted on walking him before he was put in my car, but with Joanne’s concern about him not being vaccinated made me not want to push it. He was screaming.
This was not a confused puppy crying, this was a dog convinced he was being tortured screaming for his life. It was unreal, and honestly it made me nervous. Of coarse getting back into the United States had to be a longer wait, just my luck now that I had a screaming passenger. After a couple minutes sitting in this line trying to ignore and correct the screaming puppy in my back seat I realized that people were looking at me. In fact everyone was looking at me, people were even rolling down their windows to get a better listen to the chaos. I began to realize that people probably thought I had a kidnapped child in the car with me and suddenly felt a sense of urgency to get over the border and to take this dog on a walk. As I finally inched my way up to the customs window the man inside looked concerned and confused until he could see inside enough to realize it was a puppy, not a child screaming for his life in my car. I handed the customs officer my passport card and Judah’s documentation he looked at my passport card and said (rather loudly so I could hear him over the shrieking of my dog) “Where in the heck is Effingham, New Hampshire?” I couldn’t help but laugh, now that is a question I am used to-when I was in Elementary school we had to do a project where we found our town on a map, Effingham wasn’t on the map, we’ve come a long way. “It’s in the Mt. Washington Valley area, near Conway, Madison, Freedom.” He laughed and while handing me back my paperwork said, “Wow, have fun on that long drive home. Good luck!” Then he waved me on and I was back in the U.S. I drove to the first place I found with grass and pulled in, it was a gas station that had a little pond with grass around it.
I took my little man for a walk around the pond and then we sat and took a little nap in the grass. After we had some time to bond we made our way back to the car. Our next stop wasn’t until Vermont where I snapped my first pictures of my little man. At the rest stop, away from the excitement on the border, I was able to really start to understand my knew companion. The crate was causing him a great deal of stress so from the first stop on I left the door of it open so he wouldn’t feel so confined. This seemed to make him feel a lot better and only once did he make the choice to climb out without being invited, even then he curled up on the seat right next to the crate door. At the rest stop I stepped out of the car and flipped the seat forward to invite him out. He wasn’t totally sold on the idea, still a little confused about what was really even going on at that point he seemed to feel that the car was the safest place for him.
I decided that there was no point in pushing him past his limit, I had plenty of time. I sat on the ground outside the door and just spent some time with him, the first thing I noticed was that his nose was working, hard. It made me feel good that his first instinct was the right one, so often dogs forget how to be dogs and even from young puppies can lose even the basics of K9 communication. It should always be nose first and he definitely had that right, all on his own. My first real clean slate dog, that was mine to mold, all mine- Ha ha!
Eventually he slid off the seat and moved towards the door, he stopped and looked at me- I couldn’t believe he was doing all these basic respectful things right! Puppies generally have to be taught all their boundaries, especially when they have been raised by people. We get so caught up in cuteness that we smother them with love and never set any boundaries for them, this leads to wild unruly beasts. Judah however clearly had been raised by his mother and she knew exactly what he needed to know. Also, clearly Eleven Eleven Animal Rescue knew what they needed to do as well. I invited him out of the car (on leash) and we walked around for a while, exploring the landscape and learning about each other. When we had a good line of communication open we headed back to the car and I coaxed him to jump into the back. He did so and nestled into my sweatpants in his crate. For the rest of the ride he was easy going and always gave a little grumble if he needed to take a pit stop. Had I just gone to pick up the perfect dog?
It was a long trip home (I took the scenic route) home and we made our first visit to my sister’s house, she had a young baby and a small child and I wanted to make sure that Judah was exposed from the beginning. By the time we made it to her house he was exhausted so really it couldn’t have been a better interaction. From there we stopped into my mother’s house for him to meet her dog Dudley, also another fine success. Next we finally made it home, where we met my room mate, her dog, and her sister (who lived above us with Jenn their mom). It was a short night, we were so tired and Judah emptied his toy basket and then went to sleep.
The next morning all us girls gathered up stairs in Jenn’s kitchen and chatted about my adventures the day before. I told them the wolf story telling them that I know no one would believe me (my dad had already told me the night before he thought I was out of my mind), but I knew what I saw.
Jenn smiled and looked up at me and with no hesitation she said, “It’s your totem, it means you were right where you were supposed to be.” Little did I know that this dog would change my life, in so many ways and none of it would have happened without him. As the years have gone by I have grown to believe Jenn’s statement more and more, I was definitely where I was supposed to be.