A Weekend With Tessa


This weekend I’m dog-sitting for a friend. My charge is a rescue dog, a female named Tessa, about seven years old, and part boxer, part terrier – we think. Like all rescue dogs I’ve seen, she’s wary of other people and animals. She does, however, defend her home turf valiantly, barking fiercely when some unknown entity darkens her door.

Over the years I’ve learned a lot by observing wild animals, and I can tell you without a shred of doubt that ducks, fish, squirrels, even snakes have defined personalities. And Tessa has personality aplenty, although whatever damage done to her prior to her rescue left her a bit addled – a dog version of autistic. She puzzles about things that come to her out of the blue. She’s most at home, like an autistic human, with a schedule that varies little, habits that mimic those from the previous day and days.

She’s affectionate in her own way, but her displays of affection have to be initiated by her. Get down on all fours, and she’ll let me touch nose to nose. She’ll curl up on the divan beside me, rump touching mine, in what I’m told is a dog version of hugging. These usually occur late at night when I’m ready for bed. Her days when she’s chillaxin’ tend to make her something of a night owl.

Her habits are unvarying unless she’s upset. She eats her morning meal at precisely 12 noon, although it’s usually been sitting out awhile. She takes a morning walk as soon as I’m up, then another around five pm, followed by her second (and last) meal of the day. Another final walk at 10 pm seems to wake her to friskiness and night owl status.

Like any victim of autism, she can suddenly turn stubborn, as she did yesterday, standing in the middle of the street and holding up cars.

Still, she’s a charmer and a damned fine companion, and I love her to pieces.


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