At that time, we still had a land line in the house. The three of us were upstairs in the main bedroom when the phone rang and I answered it. On the other end of the line was a masculine voice speaking with fierce intensity. He said, "I know where you live, you dyke, you and your girlfriend and your son. I'm coming there to rape you, to rape you both, and then to take care of your son. You'll never see me coming. I am going to take you both and rape you to death." Then he hung up. I was shaking so bad I could barely push the buttons on the phone to trace the call. Then I hung up and called the phone company to report the call and to make sure they had traced the number. After talking to the operator, I called the police department and reported the call.
The officer who came out to take our complaint told us we had two choices. We could buy a gun or we could get a dog. He said that having a dog that barks in the house is a better deterrent than a gun, because an intruder would hesitate before coming in the house if there was a dog inside. I was uncomfortable with the idea of having a gun in the house, not having a gun safe or a way to guarantee our son wouldn't be able to get to the gun at any point in the future, I talked to J about a dog. Then I started looking for one. The police department traced the phone call, which dead-ended at a switch-box in Virginia. It was their opinion that it was a random call, but it didn't feel random. I was terrified and wanted the security of having a dog in the house that would bark.
There were no boxers. None. We could put a deposit down on a puppy that wasn't even born yet, but that wasn't going to help us out. We tried shelters, but Boxer rescue is very aggressive in this area and they had an agreement with the shelters that any Boxers would go to the rescue. We couldn't qualify for an adoption from Boxer Rescue, because we didn't have a six foot high fenced back yard, with someone home with the dog all the time. (I mean, really?) I finally located a dog in a kennel close by. She was five months old and had been surrendered for sale because they couldn't get her housebroken. She was a bouncing ball of Boxer energy, in a dark brindle, with kind eyes. We took her home.
We named her Joey. Joey for J, who called her Josephine Boxer, Joe Boxer or Joey. I just called her Joey. She would bark to alert us to anyone outside the house in a quarter mile radius. She became somewhat housebroke, which is not the same as housebroke. I was in school at the time, so we spent several hours a week at the dog park, watching her chase the ball for anyone but me. I would walk her down to the park and ride and pick up the car, then take her with me to get the boy. She was very protective and on more occasion, placed herself between T and an approaching dog. So many people thought she was a Pitbull because of her coloring. I liked the feeling of safety it provided. She sounded very scarey behind closed doors.
One day we were walking and I was stopped by a man in a truck. He asked me about Joey and if we would be interested in breeding her. (I had no idea what that entailed). He sold me a sob story about how much he loved his dog and how he would do anything to have a pup from him. I was suckered. I talked to J about it and we decided that we would try. It was the worse and the best decision of my life. I made two mistakes: I offered to split the litter with him, with any odd number pup going to us, and I didn't put our agreement in writing. He offered to pay half the expenses for the litter. Again, I didn't put the agreement in writing.
Three months later we bred the dogs (Joey was just about one at that point). That was the messiest thing ever. Dogs in heat are gross, with bloody discharge for 34 days in our experience. The two of them hooked up once, for maybe 40 seconds, and we came away from the experience hoping Joey wasn't pregnant. One of the things Ron had said to us is that he wanted a huge litter so he could take his half of the pups and sell them for $500 a piece. J and I were both pretty turned off by the interaction and fervently hoped there would be no puppies.
Let this be a lesson in sex education: it only takes once, it doesn't have to last very long and the girl doesn't have to enjoy it, and you can still end up pregnant.
Within three weeks, we were receiving threatening phone calls from Ron, before we even knew Joey was pregnant. I stopped answering the phone, because he was a wack job. At 54 days after the sex, the vet confirmed she was pregnant with maybe one pup. At 64 days, she went into the vet hospital for an induction. There was a pup partially stuck in the birth canal, so they did a c-section and spay.
Joey had a bleeding disorder that seems to be fairly common with boxers. We had no idea. She bled out on the table and her heart stopped. The doc gave her medicine to help her blood clot and two blood transfusions. They got her heart restarted. She had three pups and we were told they were all female. We got back to the hospital to see them at about four pm. Joey came in on shaking legs and within a few minutes had a pool of blood on the floor beneath her. The vet didn't seem real positive about her recovery and we left there shaken. The only image that really sustained us was the sight of T craddling Red against his chest, kissing her head and calling her his "little red head".
They were in the hospital for three days. During that time we had the dew claws and tail docks done on the pups, and they kept Joey on bed rest. She was a great mom and bonded well with the pups. When we brought them home, Joey was weak and shaky. On a hunch, I went out and bought four lbs of raw liver. She gobbled it up and although it gave her bad poo, it also gave her the iron content she needed to strengthen her blood. She and the pups were fine.
The vet bill was just under $400. It should have been ten times that, but we were long time customers of this vet and he cut us a lot of slack.
When the pups were about a week old, we discovered we had a boy in the mix. This played an important part in the dealings with Ron, because of our deal. He decided he didn't want Red (T's dog) because she had a spot of white on the top of her nose. He didn't want Spike, because Spike was male. He didn't want to pay us almost $400 dollars (his share of all the medical costs - didn't cover the cost of food, materials, kennels, etc) for one female pup he couldn't breed to his male. Remember this was the guy who wanted to sell the pups and become "rich". At two weeks he sued us for breach of contract in small claims court. Mind you he was saying we were in breach of contract well before he was allowed to take the pups home. Legal age to release them is eight weeks.
We moved the court date, due to a conflict with my school mid-terms. Our first court date was late in November and the pups were four and a half months old. They were well socialized, well trained and very human oriented dogs. We didn't want to let any of them go. The court was overbooked so the judge ordered us into mediation. In mediation, Ron accused me of abuse, of lying, of selling dogs out from under him, of conspiring with the vet to hide the supposed birth of the rest of the litter. Mediation did not work, so we rescheduled the court date.
By the time we met before a judge the pups were almost seven months old. The possibility of finding a home for any of them was pretty much gone. They were bonded as a pack and as a family with us. J and I agreed, before going into court, that we wanted to keep the dogs together. Ron and his wife lied from the beginning to the end. We broke at lunch and then made up a story that they then shared after lunch. J and I spoke the truth and let the chips fall where they would. The judge decided for Ron, since we had nothing in writing, and awarded him a breeders fee, which he let Ron set. We had the dogs, which in the end was all that mattered to us.
Our boxer rainbow
Red, Joey and Spike in the back. Guinness in the front.
Red was with us for seven years. Losing her broke our hearts. Spike and Joey passed close together in early 2013. Guinness is still here, still going, despite the cancer and her advanced age. Boxers don't live long.
I wanted to give you the background of our experience with dogs, before the story I will share tomorrow, in order to put it all in perspective . . . .