Adopting a Lemon

No, we didn’t adopt a piece of fruit, but we did adopt a dog.  We also didn’t name her Lemon because we felt she was a lemon, which is a commonly used name for a problematic new or used vehicle.  While we did have more than our fair share of problems in the beginning, we never had any intention of invoking Virginia’s “lemon law” and returning her.  Lemon actually came with her name (bright golden eyes), and we decided to keep it. 

Let’s start at the beginning…

I have been trying to guilt my husband, Jim, into letting me adopt a dog for years.  Needless to say, it never worked… until COVID hit.  We were stuck at home and cut off from friends and our usual social activities, and the loneliness was really setting in. My friend Jennifer is a foster mom for the rescue organization “For the Love of Labs,” and she was always posting photos of her latest fosters.  I kept watching and waiting.  I knew we wouldn’t be able to handle a big dog, but every now and then, a smaller mixed-breed dog would come along.

One day Jennifer posted a photo of a dog named Lemon.  Her previous owner had abandoned her, and she was starving and in need of medical attention.  She was 35 pounds and was determined to be 10-12 months old, so she was pretty much done growing.  Or so we thought…

I showed her photo to Jim and begged like a child pleading to keep a stray that had followed me home from school.  I laid it on thicker than peanut butter.  It didn’t hurt that I had already told Jennifer we’d take her, and that I employed the same sad, big-eyed “please oh please” look that Lemon now uses on me.  So… we officially adopted Lemon and she came to live with us in August of 2020.

I had visions dancing in my head of all the fun adventures and photos I would take with this sweet well-behaved pup.  I finally had a four-legged BFF! Well, she is very sweet, but she wasn’t so well-behaved. Actually, she was quite ill-behaved!

Our biggest problem was taking Lemon anywhere that involved walking, because walking was not in her repertoire. Running, pulling, flipping in mid-air, and lunging is what we experienced as soon as another dog, squirrel, or bird came into sight. We ended up on the ground several times.  She pulled Jim down on a hiking trail (horses allowed), and he slid down into a pile of horse manure and mud.  I had warned him to wear pants, but of course, being his usual mulish self, he had insisted on wearing his gym shorts.  The experience left his legs scraped and covered in muddy manure and the once quiet woods filled with a loud litany of profanity.

The next “ground” adventure occurred when Jim took Lemon for a walk in our community, which has gravel roads.  Before he even made it to the end of our driveway, Lemon was off and running like a husky training for the Iditarod.  Jim went down hard and quickly became both the musher and the sled.  He still hadn’t learned his lesson and was wearing his gym shorts.  I wasn’t sure what had happened when he walked in the door covered in blood and gravel.  This time there was no loud litany of profanity, just a stone-faced look that said, “look what your dog did.”

The final “ground” adventure happened in the city this past December when Lemon reached her champion pulling weight of 54 pounds.  Lemon took me for a walk, and while walking past an alley, she spotted a squirrel.  Before I could react, she circled my legs with her leash and lunged at the squirrel.  Like a cowboy hog-tying a calf at a rodeo, she had me on the ground in record time.  Luckily, I was wearing my long winter puff coat, so no injuries were sustained.  It became clear that we were in desperate need of dog training.  Everyone, including Lemon, was unhappy about the situation. We contacted Old Towne School for Dogs and with the help of an amazing dog trainer named Leighann and pounds of dog treats, we now have a truly well-behaved pup named Lemon. And she remains very sweet. 

What this experience has reinforced in me is that dancing visions rarely equate to reality, and it takes a lot of work and time to bring the reality closer to the vision. By the way, that alley where Lemon knocked me down is now fondly referred to as “Knock-Down Alley.”

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