“Driving Miss Lillie…Home”

My beloved dogs, Martini, Rossi & Shannon, adorable and loving shih-tzus, all passed away by 2002, having lived long and amazing lives. I had thoughts of replacing them over the past thirteen years but never acted because they were indeed “very hard acts to follow.”

All that changed in October of 2014 when my husband and I were in Duluth MN for a weekend. Our friends, who breed Irish Red & White setters, shared they had a dog for “us.”   We were previously interested in their dogs some years before, however our townhome, without a backyard, was not a good fit for the breed that needs lots of exercise and space to run. All that changed a month prior to our visit to Duluth when we moved into a house on an acre of land with lots of grass and trees a plenty.

The dog they had in mind for us had been bred by them in 2011 and placed in a rural home in the Midwest. She ended up at a kill shelter four years later in September 2014, and was just brought back to them from a no kill rescue shelter in Colorado a few days before. Her story was that she was supposed to be a “hunting” dog and was given up because she didn’t want to hunt.

I was a bit skeptical and still not sure I was ready to let another dog into my life, but we agreed to meet “Lillie” the next day.

When we got to their home, out she came, pulling and tugging on her leash, acting wild and out of control. My first impression was she was way too big – a huge contrast from the small cuddly dogs I was used to having. My husband, on the other hand, had no issues with her size since he was used to Great Danes.

We understood, with her being in limbo for five weeks, that she had been through a lot of stress. She had no idea of where she was or what was going to happen to her next. Even though I knew she was so different from the type of dogs I previously had, I slowly agreed we would adopt her.

With my heart still questioning if this was the right decision, we put “Lillie” in the back seat of our car for the eight hour drive to Chicago. She was panicked. It only took a few minutes to figure out that “Lillie” sitting alone and behind us, was not going to work.

So I joined her in the back seat and started petting her, trying to calm her fears and lessen her panting and drooling. It took about two hours to get her semi-settled. I continued this as she rested and slept and as I wondered about her past.

I also couldn’t help thinking of the movie “Driving Miss Daisy.”  Actor Morgan Freeman the chauffeur, driving Jessica Tandy the widow. Their relationship got off to a rocky start and they formed a close relationship over the years, one that transcended social conventions.

Except this time it was very different. We were not driving Miss Daisy, we were driving Miss Lillie….home. 

Look forward to reading many more in depth “Dog Tails of Love & Laughter” about “Lillie” in my book “Heartbeats by our Side.”

Maryellen Klang Author