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My First Rescue Pup

By Xine SegalasPublished 6 months ago 7 min read

The following is an excerpt from my book Xine's Pack of Strays & Others - A Memoir.

I told my husband I wanted a divorce in April 2004. Again, I asked him at the time to go to counseling with me, and maybe if we started counseling together that maybe we could still work things out. He made no attempts to go to counseling with me, so I proceeded with the divorce, which was finalized by July 2005.

A month earlier, I adopted my first rescue puppy. I had been bored one day at work, I don’t know how it happened, but I was surfing the Internet and found an organization called the American Brittany Rescue (ABR). There was a picture of a female one year old named April and her brother Duke. They were up for adoption. I don’t know why I felt driven to inquire about this little one year old pup.

Perhaps my pangs of wanting another baby, but the ending of the marriage made clear that was not going to happen. Perhaps I wanted to try to make it up to the kids for my failed marriage? I had failed to be able to keep our family together. A sort of “I’m sorry. Here’s a puppy to help distract you from your sadness and anger.” The ABR sent over a local representative to interview me.

There was no misunderstanding here, I was being interviewed and the kids were being interviewed. Our house and yard were being looked over to be sure the rescue would be safely contained. By then the swimming pool was in, but I also had a beautiful three season porch on which we could hang out outside but still be protected from the hot summer sun. Plus, we’d had the side yard sectioned off since mid-season.

I found it best to keep (our two Brittanys) Copper and Cosmo away from backyard wetlands. There would be times when Cosmo would get so muddy that I’d have to put him in the crate to dry off. We dubbed it the “magic crate” because Cosmo would go in dirty and muddy and come out clean, it was amazing. One thing Cosmo seemed to miss out on when they were genetically mixing up this puppy was any interest in self grooming.

Copper didn’t like the rain or getting too wet or too dirty and when he did, he would sit himself down on a bed and lick his paws like an obsessive preening cat. Cosmo, on the other hand, would just plonk down all dirty and look up and stare at you. And unlike Copper, Cosmo loved getting wet and muddy, and his roan coloring made him look dirty even when he wasn’t. On dozens of occasions, when I double checked Cosmo for dirt or wetness, he would be clean and dry. I understood the confusion the illusion caused.

When I was a child, many times my mother would ask me to scrub parts of my forearms, thinking it was dirt on my arms. It was really just my skin, burnt from the sun and freckled. I have what they call coffee stains, coffee-colored speckled patches on my forearms, more so on my right side, and they fade with the seasons and can become very pronounced with a lot of sun exposure. My mother was fair and blonde, she could never tan her skin, she would burn. Dad is first generation American. Both of his parents were immigrants from the Greek island of Andros. My eldest brother and I inherited the Mediterranean olive skin. My sister and my other brother are fair like my mother. But I also have some freckles like my mother.

Unfortunately, skin cancer also runs in the family on both sides so it’s only a matter of time before I discover what damage was done to my skin when I was a kid. I only remember using sunscreen when we went on vacation to the Caribbean. Dad would use the Bain de Soleil Orange SPF 4. I loved the smell of that stuff. I remember having to put sunscreen on the Brittanys’ noses once, as per the recommendation of the vet one summer. I did it once or twice before giving up since they licked and wiped it off before I had time to put the cap back on the bottle.

I was approved as an adopter, and soon, a date was chosen to meet up with April in the Poconos. She was in Michigan, where she had been initially found with her brother Duke in some farmer’s hen house. The farmer had tried to keep them, but they kept getting into the hen house, so he called American Brittany Rescue. She was staying with a foster family who sent us photos of her once we had been approved. We immediately decided to change April’s name to Artemis, after the goddess of the hunt. A few years earlier, while visiting my cousin in Greece, I met her dog Artemis, and I immediately fell in love with the name.

American Brittany Rescue and their volunteers are an incredible organization with Earth angels helping find these beautiful dogs forever homes. I mentioned the interview where they were checking me out. Their volunteers are amazing people in my book. Depending on where they live, they take turns, each driving the dog for an hour or two. Eight volunteers drove Artemis from Michigan to the Wawa’s Convenience Store near Camelback Mountain in the Poconos. Bringing the kids along, the three of us made a day of it. I had checked out the area around where I was told to meet up with the last leg of the relay transport. Camelback Water Park was nearby, so I decided we would go there first and then meet up in the afternoon at our scheduled time to pick up our new pup.

Artemis sleeping on the ride home

We had a blast at the water park. It had been raining but the park was open, and it seemed like we had the place all to ourselves. I got so soaking wet just from watching the kids that we had to stop at a nearby strip mall to buy a new outfit for me. Then we headed over to the Wawa’s where we met up with a man in a red pickup truck who had Artemis and his own Brittany along for the ride. The exchange was brief. We took her for a short walk to stretch her legs and to relieve herself if she needed to before placing her in the open crate in the backseat alongside the kids.

The crate was a maroon-colored plastic crate like you would use to travel on an airplane. We unscrewed the top and made it into a comfortable bed with blankets and a few toys. Welcome home Artemis. Sam finally had her baby girl. The day I first saw April on the Internet, for some reason my fears about having a girl dog had dissipated. My ex-husband used to say all girl dogs are crazy. This tainted my thinking for a while, I’ll admit. The divorce made me want to prove him wrong. Which I did.

Artemis was welcomed by Copper and Cosmo, no problem. She was a skinny little thing and smaller than both of them. Artemis was mostly white with spots on one side that reminded me of a cheetah. Her tail was still a thin rat-like thing at the age of one, but it would develop into a beautiful flowing tail that would twirl in circles like a whirly gig when she was happy. And happy she was. She loved hunting as much as Cosmo and Copper and it didn’t matter the weather. Actually, the rainier the better, I think that’s what she thought.

One afternoon after a rainy day, we heard this horrible screeching sound outside. Artemis was the only one outside and as I went beyond the screen porch, Copper and Cosmo flew past me to join her. There was a stand of evergreen trees in the corner of the yard and all I could see was Artemis’s tail sticking out. Screech! Screech! It wasn’t a dog making that noise and before I knew it, I saw one huge wing come out from behind the trees.

All the dogs were over behind the tree. Screech! Screech! I screamed, “Big bird! Big bird!” Sam was in the middle of her school tutoring and she and her tutor came running out to see what was going on. The next thing we saw was Artemis running up from the trees with a dead squirrel in her mouth. The big bird was a hawk who must have dropped the squirrel, and Artemis was there to steal his prize. The hawk was pissed and probably would have attacked Artemis had her backup not come out.

Cosmo liked to climb some of our trees when he was hunting birds. I’ve never seen another dog do this besides him. The white pines were his favorites since their branches grew in a way that allowed him to easily make his way up the tree about four feet. Getting him down was another story. When Cosmo went over to the stand of trees where the hawk was freaking out, he certainly tried to get as high as he could, but those trees were denser and harder to climb, so instead, he ran up onto the wood stack that sat up against the chain link fence.

With Cosmo already four feet in the air, the hawk, who’d been sitting on a branch about a foot higher, decided he had lost the battle and flew off. Artemis continued to run a victory lap with her newly found prize, an eviscerated squirrel. Artemis would enjoy catching snakes, frogs, and moles in our wetlands for over a decade.

Artemis on the hunt

At times, Artemis would get so dirty, particularly on one side of her face. It always struck me as odd until one day, I watched Artemis dig a hole, bury something, and cover up the hole by dragging her face across the dirt to cover the hole. My God, she is a smart dog! Amazing! I thought. I had never witnessed anything like it.


If you enjoyed reading about Artemis, you can read more about our adventures with my pack in Xine's Pack of Strays & Others - A Memoir.

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About the Creator

Xine Segalas

Exploring life through writing, art, and photography, drawing inspiration from the natural world and beloved tales. Author of "Xine's Pack of Strays & Others," about life with my dogs, I review books, hoping to encourage others to read.

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  • Salman siddique6 months ago

    loved it please keep uploading regularly

  • Donna Renee6 months ago

    Awww I love this! Girl dogs are the best 🥰

  • Daphsam6 months ago

    Great heartwarming story!

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