I had a breakdown tonight because of a two faced Cowboy named Harvey. When I picked Harvey up from a breeder on Monkey Mountain I was my own family. I was about a month from meeting my wife and even farther away from meeting my first child. He was in a small kennel by himself and looking extremely nervous. Chris, the breeder told me that his name was “Cowboy”, the unfortunate name I thought given by a child on a ranch in Wyoming. I would not have a dog named Cowboy, but I did want an Australian Shepherd.
I had just arrived back in my home town after spending almost three years living in Puerto Rico. I knew two things about getting off the island and coming back to my home town. I was going to get a truck and a dog. I was unsure about the truck, but I was sure about the dog. I spent time researching dogs on the internet and learning about the different breeds. I didn’t want a small dog, or as I like to call them “cats”. I didn’t want a Labrador Retriever, my parents had a couple and I always thought they lacked loyalty and the ability to stick around. I settled on the Australian Shepherd because it was supposed to be good with other dogs, good with people, a little territorial, and much more loyal than a Labrador.
So I found an add in the “Quik Quarter” for Australian Shepherd pups just outside of Glenrock, WY for $75. Right dog, right price. I was concerned about whether it was full bred but I thought I would check it out. Turns out Cowboy was a full bred, but his papers were tied up in a divorce settlement. It also turns out that Cowboy had already been sold and returned by the time that I got to see him. Three month old Aussies can look a little scraggly so when I saw him he didn’t look like the Aussies that I saw on the internet. In all honesty I was looking for a Blue Merle and not a Red, but it was the right price.
So I asked if I could pet him to which Christ obliged and let him out of the cage. Then Cowboy obliged me by peeing a trend that he continues even today, a nervous pee’r. I eventually decided that he was a good dog to start off with. I had never had my own dog and I liked the fact that he was not obnoxious. So I paid Chris the $75 and took him home. I spend most of the time driving home looking into that box and wondering what I was going to do with a dog. There was one thing I did know, his name was not going to be Cowboy.
As a youth pastor it was like I had added a new tool to bring kids to church, everybody loved Cowboy, but they were calling him “Two Face”. You see he has a split right down the middle of his face, rust on the left, white on the right. Both of his eyes have blue and brown in them as well. After a couple of weeks of calling him Two Face I decided that I would name him “Harvey” after the Batman Villain Harvey Dent better known as Two Face.
I have had Harvey for 13 years now and I can tell you without hesitation that I could not have had a better dog. Aside from the nervous peeing, sliding through any type of poop that he finds, and his stubborn refusal to get out of a car without a ride once he gets in; he is brilliant. So now I am left feeling guilty and sad because tonight, as he has for the last few weeks, he is not sleeping in our room with us. Our new dog is because she is quiet and we cannot trust her to roam the house yet.
Harvey is dying of congestive heart failure and coughs so loud and frequently that he keeps anyone who is in the same room with him awake. I cannot figure out a way to both honor his place in my life and heart and at the same time get some sleep. I finally got out of bed tonight and went out to pet him for awhile because I had several overwhelming memories of our life together. I have always said that I would never treat a dog like I would a human, but that Two-Faced Cowboy has worn me down. That sounds like a country song.