From The Gazette

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BILL YOUNG: Rescue dog Meghan is now a true westie

Her name is Meghan. She was a rescue dog — and since 2009, our rescue dog.

Readers might recall that some time ago, I wrote about Meghan’s first year with us, highlighting her progress in learning to become a dog.

Meghan is a Westie — a.k.a. a West Highland white terrier — although had we not already been apprised of that fact when she first arrived at our front door, I doubt we would have had any idea what she was.

To begin with, she was clean-shaven, shiny and pink, looking much like the little piggy of nursery rhymes. When rescued, her coat had become so matted and unkempt that there was no alternative but to clip right down to her epidermis and cross fingers that it would all grow back.

Meghan came to us without a name. For six years, so we were told, this waif-like dog had been held hostage at a wretched breeding operation hidden somewhere south of Quebec City.

Confined to a narrow dirty pen, alone and underfed, her daily existence alternated between the act of being bred and nursing her young. She had no notion of what it meant to be a dog.

Thus, when circumstances changed and suddenly being a dog became essential to her well-being, the arc of her learning curve shot skyward and on an almost vertical line.

But learn she did, slowly, and with the help of Breeze, our resident rescue dog. A one-eyed Cairn terrier with attitude, Breeze unexpectedly established herself as Miss Bossy Nursie.

Leading by example and with an authoritative growl to back it up, Breeze taught Meghan the basics: bathroom practices; patience; barking at strangers (not good); and manners.

Fortunately, sweetness is Meghan’s strong suit, and soon enough she began to embrace fundamental dog trappings.

Now she had to learn to be a Westie, a far tougher test, as it turned out. For with life mainly comprising naps and meals, Meghan was quite comfortable just settling in as a dog.

She would go for walks when invited, although she never asked; she liked the car; and she specialized in avoiding trouble, unless food was involved.

There were a few bathroom accidents, but considering her hormones, previous life and the bombardment her lady parts must have suffered, this was to be anticipated.

And so life went on — until about eight months ago when my wife caught Meghan throwing an exuberant puppy fit in the backyard. A first! There was life in the old girl, after all.

—- Not long after we spotted her sniffing on walks. By this time Breeze had sadly passed on and Emma, a brilliant, if somewhat demanding Shih Tzu, was now living with us.

Emma is a speed-sniffer par excellence. The rapidity with which she can process a strange odour and fire back a snappy reply is mind-boggling.

And suddenly Meghan was following along. Sort of. She is learning to read doggie tweets, but has no clue about the “reply” button. She still is prone to Twitter indiscriminately as she goes, with little regard for relevance or content.

Emma approaches Meghan’s dispatches with scorn. The other day, as we trudged through the snow, the dogs tweeting as best they could, Emma, after scanning Meghan’s missives, dismissed them scornfully as base yellow doggie journalism. (OK, I made that up).

However, and this is the point, Meghan has now become a true Westie. She looks like a Westie, moves like a Westie, talks like a Westie. While no one was looking, her DNA apparently kicked in and transformed her into a fine example of her breed.

Westies seem to be everywhere on TV these days, and Meghan is every bit their equal. But best of all, she knows it. For the first time ever, life is fun.

For information on Westie rescue, visit http://www.westiesinneed.com.

Bill Young is a longtime Hudson resident.

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