Happy 17: Ivan the Terrible


My family’s old dog was a tough act to follow. Loki was a gentle, distinguished dog with impeccable manners and a wholehearted love of people. My parents knew soon after his death that they would want another pet, but they also knew it might take a long time to find a dog with comparable character. 

The rescue organization they’d gotten Loki from, Doberman Rescue Unlimited, told them they’d be on the lookout for a dog who might suit. Some months later, they got the call.

“Andy” was not a prepossessing sight on first meeting. A lanky, gangly dog just barely out of puppyhood, he’d been picked up wandering the streets in Boston. He was terrified of other dogs, loud noises, swearing, and trucks. Despite his apparent bad history and perpetually nervous disposition, he was thoroughly convinced that humans were his pals.

Despite some initial misgivings, my parents took him home. On the drive back, he puked a couple of times and spent the rest of the trip trying to climb into the front seat. It was not what you’d call a promising start.

My parents promptly renamed him Ivan and decided to give him the chance. As Ivan grew used to the home and his personality became more evident, he acquired numerous epithets.

Ivan the Needy. Ivan the Insecure. Ivan the Unctuous. Ivan the Unclean. Ivan the Flatulent. Occasionally, Ivan the Terrible.

Gradually, he lost the fear of trucks and swearing, and while he wasn’t exactly comfortable with other dogs, he no longer found them terrifying. He went on bike rides with my father every morning and walks on the weekend. He did his best to become a lapdog, despite weighing close to 100 lbs. 

Nowadays, Ivan the Terrible is more or less a heroic epithet.

Author: Tristan

Artist: Tristan

About the Author: Tristan lives in New England with his family, dog and two birds. He enjoys creating small fish tank ecosystems and building robots.


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