Miller immediately fed the limping dog, which Miller described as “looking like a golden retriever but probably has some Irish setter in her.” Miller got some antibiotics for the dog in case the bites were infected. She bathed the dog’s wounds. She put a cover on the couch, and the dog jumped right up there and took a nap.
“This dog just needed a friend,” she said.
Miller is 71. She just had rotator cuff surgery on her shoulder, and the other shoulder needs the same. She can’t lift even a gallon of milk and has to go through physical therapy. She sure can’t lift a big dog. The physical therapist who comes to Miller’s home, Nancy Barbieri, said she was worried the dog was more than Miller could handle. “But I always have trouble getting Joyce to stop helping others and slow down and think of herself,” Barbieri said.
Still, Miller said, “this dog needed me.”
By Wednesday, the dog was following her around the house. The dog hadn’t so much as barked once — let alone gotten into a scrape with man nor beast. By Wednesday night, the dog was sleeping at the foot of Miller’s bed.
By Thursday morning, the dog had moved past following Miller and had taken to sitting in front of her — staring back at Miller. “The dog just looks right at me,” Miller said.
On Thursday afternoon, Barbieri came to give Miller her treatment, and the dog was right there, two feet away, watching the whole thing.
Miller acknowledged that over decades, she has helped almost anything with legs. “Counting a skunk and two rabbits not too long ago, this dog makes 232,” Miller said, referring to the animals she has taken in.
But Miller’s recent health struggles meant no more animals. Until now. “The dog is staying,” said Miller. “I love her. I think she loves me, too.”
Miller petted that dog a lot Thursday. She had no choice. The dog went wherever Miller went. The dog just sat and stared at her. Or stood and stared at her and wagged its red-gold tail.
Miller has already given the dog a name. Because not only is the dog doing better after three days at Miller’s home, but Miller is feeling better. Stronger. More lively.
“I named her Joy.”