Ddugs — The Big Red Dog
HeRow, name’s Dduger and the next few minutes my Mommy will tell you exactly how she came to be my mom and why they call me by such a cool name, hope you like the story because I KNOW she looovves to tell it…
Its been three years since Dduger came into my life (our anniversary was actually 9/21) and what a ride!!
In August 2007 I started working for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and one of my coworkers applied through the TSA animal adoption program to adopt a “flunky” bomb sniffer. After becoming overwhelmed by the fact that she was moving and pregnant with her second child, my coworker decided there would just be no time for a new addition. She began asking anybody who would listen for advice on what to do, and one day without warning and without thinking, I suddenly heard myself tell her “I will take him.” I had know idea what I just got myself into. I had wanted a dog for so long, but was never able to get one because of my work schedule and the fact that I was living alone. Little did I know, things were about to get interesting.
After my subconscious, but real, outburst my coworker handed over the torch and I was immediately contacted by the woman running the adoption program (who, by the way, I am still in touch with to this day). Being overly prepared I had my list of 20 questions and was not shy to ask her each and every one. Afterward she said it was the most intense interview she had ever had – usually she was the one asking all the questions.
I found out that the dogs enter into the TSA program from birth and are housed with local families in Texas for one year, and then brought back to the facility to be trained. They spend about 3 months learning the ropes. After those 3 months a determination is made as to whether or not they are fit to stay in the program. I’m pretty sure my little guy just didn’t care about bombs (squirrels are another story).
I also learned that all of the dogs in this program are named after 9-11 victims. Dduger was in the 4th litter of Vizslas (hence, D – the fourth letter of the alphabet). He was named after Antoinette Duger, a woman who was killed in one of the twin towers when the planes hit. I did not remove the extra D from his name as a reminder of the importance of my job and of the dogs who make it through these programs (i.e. NOT Dduger).
Growing up with a little dog, my love for them is to the extreme, but I was still afraid of big dogs and was not prepared for Big Red to come barreling through my door and take over my world. But let me tell you – that is exactly what happened.
First, I had to pay for a one-way ticket from San Antonio to DC, which is apparently hard to come by in a pressurized cabin with AC (no way was I going to put him on a plane in Texas without either of those things!). So right off the bat this “free” dog was checking to see how far he could stretch my checkbook. I asked a friend to come with me to pick him up from the airport in case this sweet, loving dog tried to attack me. We waited for him at DCA and watched carefully to ensure the handlers did not treat him poorly. Out came this huge brown crate with a scared looking red dog in it. The handlers at DCA were very gentle with him and made sure he didn’t crash down the ramp.
We got Dduger back to my condo and tried to let him out to potty. He refused, but he did cower and look suspiciously at a large blue mailbox on the other side of the road. It took a few weeks for him to be able to pass by the mailbox without incident – never figured out why. He didn’t decide to pee until the next day. I got him out of my condo door, walked down the hall, and he lifted his leg on the fake plant in the hallway. It died (not really, but that would have made for a better story). He was so playful, excited, happy, loving, sweet, and energetic. I couldn’t believe how much energy he had after traveling all day and ending up in a new place where he didn’t know anybody. All he seemed to want to do (after jumping up on all my counters and sniffing every square inch 6 times) was play with the new toys I had bought for him.
I knew my life was going to change, but during the first 3 months this Horse that was now living with me in an 825-square-foot condo on the third floor gave high maintenance a whole new meaning! As it turns out, he has a touch of separation anxiety and he was used to somebody telling him what to do for 6 hours a day. Instead, I left him alone in a crate with a variety of strange noises occurring around him all day with nobody around to comfort him. By the time I got home he needed a bath, his crate needed cleaning, and I needed a drink!
I also quickly learned that he needed A LOT of exercise. I was training for a marathon when I got him and was advised by his vet not to run him more than 6 miles a day. I often took him for 5 miles, only to learn that it just made him more hyper. The dude never quit!
Today Dduger and I celebrate our 3-year anniversary. He still gets a lot of exercise, and he’s still a little high maintenance, but he has a very sweet nature and is quite entertaining. He is 4 now and sleeps more than he used to, so I get a break when he goes to bed at 7:30 (sometimes even earlier!). He has brought so much joy to my life and has taught me a lot about patience, communication, and unconditional love. I wouldn’t trade him for the world.