Friday, August 2, 2013

My Familiars - Part 1 of 3: Artemis

Name: Artemis
Always called: Artie, Artie Bean
Gender: Male
Breed: Maltese/Shih Tzu (DNA test confirmed)
Age: 6 (as of 11/20/14)
Element: Water

This is Artemis.  He's a lovable, well-behaved little guy that came into my life in 2010.  I wasn't aware at the time that I took him in that he had been abused and neglected - he had matted fur, was infested with fleas, had bruising under his rib cage and was afraid of three things: scissors, water and enclosed spaces, like a crate or a small bathroom.  I don't know what happened to him before I rescued him, but rescuing this dog changed me forever.

At the time, we had just rescued a tortoise shell cat.  My husband and I named her Nyx after the primordial Greek goddess of the night because we found her at night.  When I saw a picture of Artie, I knew immediately that I wanted to call him Artie but I felt like that was a nickname for something bigger.  Arthur certainly didn't fit.  I didn't have a full name when I brought him home, but the minute I saw him bounding through Nyx's space, an idea sprung in my head: Artemis.  Clearly, Artie was a big ball of white in my cat's territory.  Nevermind the fact that I actually brought him home on a full moon.

We had a rocky first three months.  I was working and going to school.  Originally, I sought a dog already trained and what I received was anything but.  Artie was never taught to go outside or not be destructive.  He had terrible anxiety when I left.  I feared the neighbors would complain I was locking up a small child because his yelps resembled a toddler's screams.  It was horrifying.  

But after the first few months, we had a magical bonding moment. The complex I lived in had the buildings situated in a way that strong vortexes of wind were created during the worst parts of winter.  On a day when we were having a particularly bad winter storm, the wind blew open my locked front door.  I didn't even realize it until I felt the cold nip at my feet from the office.  I cautiously ran up the hallway to see Nyx frozen in horror at the open door.  I yelled at her to go back to the bedroom and off she ran, but Artie was nowhere to be found.  In PJs and barefoot, I dashed out the door and into the three inches of snow and blinding winds, yelling for Artie.  I was so sure I had lost him forever.  

Then, out of nowhere, this nearly invisible white shadow comes bounding around the corner of the building, happy-go-lucky.  I angrily yelled at him all the way up the stairway and he eventually ran to his "no-no place," which was under the bed since we couldn't give him a den of his own from his anxiety of enclosed spaces.  About five minutes later, I broke.  I sat on the floor in the doorway of our bedroom and out crawled Artie.  We both began audibly crying and he ran to me, licking my face and yelping.

We've been inseparable ever since.

I made a lot of mistakes when I first got him.  I didn't know how to handle an abused dog and I pompously wanted a trained one.  Artie brought out the mature, responsible adult in me and I learn a lot about what I'm capable of.  He made me a pet rescuer and rescue group volunteer.  He is now barely the same dog I rescued, so well-behaved and wonderful in every way.  I never worry about him being destructive, he's perfectly house-trained, and he considers the whole of the bedroom his den, which makes it his perfect living area.  In fact, he's currently laying in the bedroom right now.  I love him to pieces.

Proof that you don't always immediately click with your familiar.  Sometimes, it takes some time.

So how do I know Artie is one of my familiars and not simply a fuzzy family member?

- He always joins me when I open and close a circle.
- He paws at the candle for West.  He never knocks it over, but he often starts nesting there.
- He lays at West.
- He led me to all of my other familiars.
- He is more than emotionally connected to me: he knows when I'm upset without seeing my face or hearing me, and immediately wants to comfort me.

On top of all of that, Artie never wants to leave.  Despite my initial fears the day that he ran out the door, we have since taken him camping without a leash and even rent a house with an unfenced backyard.  When we lost his leash during his last grooming visit, my husband took him for a walk without a leash.  He walks directly next to you, doesn't leave you and won't cross the street unless you give him the okay.  He might want to chase after squirrels, but if you tell him no, he'll immediately stop.  I still worry and prefer to keep him on a leash if we're out and about, but he truly does not want to go anywhere.

Where he really wants to be is right here, with me.


  1. Beautiful dog and story!

  2. What a beautiful story of the beauty and connection that is between you two. Thank you for sharing this.