Josephine Beauty Queen – Man’s Best Friend

This is Josey…

Well, her full adoption record says, “Josephine Beauty Queen Toler”. Beautiful name, huh? The person who helped us fill out her adoption paperwork wasn’t so sure either, but look at her, just not right at her. It’s the perfect name. She’s not eye candy (neither am I) and she’s definitely not your typical “family dog”, but she’s the best dog I have ever known.

We adopted her 11.5 years ago when she was around the age of 8 months old. She had been abused, chained up and neglected. Her face was jet black, she and I have gone grey together. We adopted her a couple months before Amanda and I were married. Amanda was in her final year of college and living on campus where dogs were not allowed. So, Josey was to live with my 3 male roommates and me until the wedding. No problem, right? Well, turns out she hated men and especially tall men, obviously she had her well-justified reasons for the animosity. She would sit in her cage and bark at us when we went by…only venturing out if Amanda came by or if we propped open the back door and left the room so she could “sneak” outside.

The genesis of Josey and my relationship was not ideal.

She hated me and I was growing increasingly frustrated with the circumstances, but doing my best to stay annoyingly positive when talking to Josey. Hoping to bridge the divide and convince her that I wouldn’t hurt her or leave her or betray her.

My roommates were great, good friends are like that, they may think you are crazy and rightly be terrified of the small dog going berserk every time they stand up, or move suddenly, yawn, breathe, cough, blink, or pretty much do anything, but they love you and somehow that can be enough for people to put up with things they shouldn’t even have to be dealing with.

Before Josey and I gave in and stopped using hair coloring.

I digress, so after about a week of this stalemate I was laying in bed with real concern about how we could keep her if she truly hated me and how in the world that could even work…it couldn’t. I was watching TV, I think it was an episode of “24” so I was probably wide-eyed and jumpy, and around the corner of the door pokes a little black face. She studied me and I acted like I didn’t see her. Not knowing what to say or do I went with the age-old standby, I did nothing. I waited. She waited. I didn’t stare. I would glance at her and her gaze never wavered. After about 15 minutes of this awkward will they won’t they stand off she slowly stepped around the corner walked slowly towards me and jumped with ease on to the front corner of the bed. She stood and looked at me for a moment and then curled up in the tiniest little ball and ignored me…

Why just carry one?

That was it, since then she’s never wavered. She made her decision that I was for her and her loyalty hasn’t wavered for a second. All these years later she stays with me wherever I go. If I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, Josey comes with me. If the kids wake up and I go to check on them, she is right behind me. Through sleepless nights sitting on the couch during my Dad’s sickness and passing she stayed with me.

She isn’t a lap dog.

Let’s not get crazy. She still wants her space just like she did the night we became friends. To be near and safe, just not too near. Sometimes she wants to snuggle up by the kids or Amanda and me but those moments are typically short lived, but she can almost always be found at my feet curled up in a little ball. Close but not too close. 

She has many quirks (and so do I)… she still doesn’t love men, but once she knows you she doesn’t forget you. Josey doesn’t bark at other animals but will bark at a human walking a mile and a half away in an effort to let them know that she’s watching them and to cut out the shenanigans. We call her the “Self-Appointed Neighborhood Watch”, and I think she is proud of that badge, all the other suckers aren’t staying nearly diligent enough in her mind. Despite her grown up reluctance she is great with our kids and other kids. She self-regulates her comfort level…if the kids are getting wild she just slides on out of the room until things calm down. Smart girl.

Always close, sometimes too close.

I have thought a lot about loyalty lately; about the way we (humans) can be so shallow and inconsistent in our friendships and willingness to be there. The way we shrink back when life offers challenges, instead of pressing in and holding firm to and with those who mean the most to us…

Josey doesn’t do that, she never has. It took her a week, a reeeaaaaally long week…but when Josey made up her mind there was no changing it, she has never wavered, never. We are family and family sticks together, no matter what.

She is an unbelievable constant in my life. Reliable and steady with no concern for the changes life continually brings. A daily reminder to get up, show up, and be there for the people I love…annnnnd maybe bark at strangers every now and then, too.

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