Nate's story is similar and yet very different from Lucky's. Nate was born in Campbell River, on a rainy day in May. He doesn't know who his father was. He was part of a litter of three born to an emaciated, slender black mother. He was born underneath a rusty, leaky old car, his mother's scent overshadowed by the smell of oil that lay in patches on her coat.
He barely remembers his mother, and his siblings even less. Even though his mother stayed with her puppies as much as she could, sometimes she had to leave, for either food or bathroom
duties. And then, one day, she didn't return. He waited, cuddling with his siblings for warmth, as the wind and rain howled, driving sheets of water under the car where his mother had made her den.
Within a very short time, it seemed, his siblings died. He was left bereft, crying piteously for help, hunger and thirst overshadowing the cold wind that blew with ferocity underneath the car. He had never seen a human...he did not know what they were. And when a long arm reached for him under the car, he tried to struggle, but his weakness overcame him, and he was brought out into the light of day.
But perhaps this long limbed creature would lead him to his mother. The man held him under his coat, and brought him into a house. He gave him water, and some food, but Nate did not know what the food was...he wanted his mother's milk. The man placed a blanket in the corner of a room, and left Nate there. Nate remembers feeling very weak and sick...he became sicker as the days went on.
Where was his mother? There was no answer; Nate would never see his mother alive again.
The man picked him up once more, wrapping the blanket around him. Nate was taken in a car...crying and whimpering and so very fearful at the strange movement of the vehicle. Finally, the car stopped, the back door was opened...and Nate and his blanket were left at the foot of a dumpster. The man and the car left.
Once more he was alone. He huddled deep within the folds of the blanket. It became dark, and the sounds of the night reminded him of his mother and the warmth she would impart to her puppies, as she wrapped her thin body around them. He cried himself to sleep.
Early the next morning, another human picked him up, and sheltered him with gentle, loving arms. The man had left him outside the Campbell River SPCA, and a worker found him and his blanket. The blanket, dirty to begin with, was now filthy, and it was thrown directly into the dumpster. Nate was taken into the adjacent building.
He remembers feeling really, really sick. The noise of barking dogs, meowing cats and the smell of death and sadness in the building made him try to vomit, but there was nothing in his stomach that could be thrown up. Gentle hands poked and prodded at his little body. He was fed with a syringe the first few days he was there; then he was introduced to a little soft mush.
As he grew, he learned to ignore the sights, smells and sounds of the SPCA. The only thing he waited for was the food he realized was now coming with regularity. He would sit quietly in his cubicle, watching the comings and goings of the staff and listening to the constant sound of barking and whining from his kennel mates, all as sad and confused as he was.
But Nate had dreamt of a boy with dark eyes and black hair. Other dreams would crowd in, too...dreams of a red dog, dreams of a family that loved and cared for him, dreams of good food and fresh water in abundance. His mother visited in his dreams, reassuring him it would not be long to wait for his boy now.
Scott (Off to Africa), for a long time, had wanted a boxer puppy. Surfing the 'net one day, Scott came across a picture of the puppy Nate the SPCA had posted. He phoned his Dad at work and told him of this puppy he had found, which looked exactly like the puppy he had dreamed of. The pup was in Campbell River, many miles from Qualicum Beach. But his Dad came home, and suggested they go and have a look at this little guy that had such a hold on Scott's heart.
A couple of hours later, they drove in to the Campbell River SPCA. They were on the verge of closing; kindly they remained open so that Scott and Nate could meet. Scott took Nate to a play area, and threw a ball for him. Nate remembers not thinking twice...he chased the ball as hard as he could, caught it and brought it back to Scott, his dream boy.
The deal was done.
The puppy was given the name Nate. As papers were filled, Nate cuddled in Scott's arms, whimpering and whining with excitement, imprinting the smell of his dream boy into his very bones. He remembers trying to ignore the insistent urge to vomit...he had just eaten and he had had no time to digest his food.
Gray and Scott were unfamiliar with small puppies. On the long drive home, Nate could no longer hold back his nausea, and he vomited all over Gray's new truck. Both Scott and Graham were worried...what was wrong with this new member of their family? They learned within a very short time what puppies are all about...they leak fluids of one sort or another with great frequency.
Nate has some leftovers from his time spent in the SPCA. He would sit in the corner of his kennel, trying to make himself as small and inconspicuous as possible. And as he sat, he watched and learned about the behavior of dogs, both good and bad aspects. All of the dogs rushed to the door of their kennel, barking maniacally the moment anyone walked into the enclosure. Most of the dog's tails would wag, to be sure, showing their happiness...but they all barked, whimpered and howled. And the kennel doors would bow under the weight of the big dogs who threw themselves at them.
There has been more than one salesman or donations volunteer who scuttles back down the front steps, as Nate's big head suddenly appears at the high window in the front door, barking maniacally...just as the big dogs he emulated did when he was young at the SPCA. With a wagging tail.
But he sounds horrifically dangerous, and looks it. He is a great watchdog just because he is so noisy. Gussy (Lucky and Nate's Story...Part 1) had a hand, from his place in the spirit world, in curbing this behavior when Graham and I moved in together. But that would not be for awhile...
The remembrance of starvation and thirst in his youth placed a large imprint on his soul. Nate inhales his food; ever ready for more...and more. He still drinks very large quantities of water, still vomits when he has taken too much water at once.
Nate tells me he loved his all-bachelor's existence, before I came along and the Tower fell. It would be awhile before his beloved routine would continue at a peaceful rate. He would meet Lucky, the red dog in his dreams. And he would meet Bree, Lucky's owner, who he would 'know' at once. Bree, who also needed the link and reminder of Gussy in Nate's Labrador behavior and looks, and who takes him for walks when she's here, just as Scott did and does when he returns home from his journeys.
Lucky and Nate have much to teach me about the spirituality and intuition of dogs. Both are incredibly psychic. Lucky 'sees' and 'feels' his way; Nate 'listens' and 'watches'.
Their behavior very much influences mine...