in search of cuteness
Laura was recovering from cancer.
I want a dog she said.
I did not want a dog.
I have metastatic cancer. I could die anytime. I want to do things that I want to do. I want a dog.
She had a great point. I was not going to argue. I set out to find a dog. This was an urgent mission. I had no time (nor money) to wait for puppies from a reputable breeder. I did not have the patience to work with a shelter or an animal rescue outfit. With that in mind, I dove headlong into online classifieds in search of cuteness.
We found two six month old puppies that were up for adoption from a private home. One looked like an Ewok, super cute. The other, his littermate, was not so cute. His hair was scraggly, his tail, ratlike.
We made arrangements to pick up the cute one. The red, ratlike one could go live with someone else. At least, that was the plan.
If you’re a dog person, it’s very clear that I had made several bad decisions already. I was on a roll it seems as I just kept making them.
Get in the car kids, we’re going to go and get a dog.
With two young children and a wife who I was afraid of loosing at any time, big, unifying, memory making actions had become fairly ordinary.
We loaded the kids into the car and drove for over two hours to pick up our puppy. We arrived to find a very large dog chained up to a tree with an actual chain. It was more than ten below zero. It barked at us menacingly.
In hindsight, this should have been a sign that we might be making a poor choice.
We entered the farmhouse. Everything. Smelled. Like. Pee.
There were three dogs inside. The momma and her two puppies.
Inside I saw more teeth than a dentist. The ordeal was nothing but a symphony of barks and growls from beginning to end.
I remember the sinking feeling in my gut to this day:
What the hell have I done?
Then it got worse.
“You want the fluffy one? His name is Ronin. Another lady just called. She said that she’d take them both. I’d hate to separate them. They’re brothers ya know…” The farmer’s voice trailed off.
Rage boiled in my chest.
Not at him.
I was angry at myself.
I came there for one dog.
I was there with my sick wife and two wide eyed children.
They expected to leave with a dog.
Now I was essentially being told two or nothing.
I knew then and there that all was lost.
I was leaving with two.
The chain of poor decisions became as clear to me as the pee stains on the farmhouse rugs.
He told me the price and let my wife and kids stay there with the puppies as I drove back to town to get more cash to pay for the extra dog.
I called my mom.
What the hell have I gotten into?
I’ve got a bad feeling about this…
We learned a bit too late that it’s not a good idea to keep littermates together. They tend to protect each other. There are signs that early in their life, they were abused.
They are small and yappy. They have fear aggression. Other people do not like our dogs. If you are walking with a dog they do not know, their first instinct is to attack. They bark, growl, snarl and show their teeth. They don’t want to play with others.
At first they wouldn’t let people in our house. We had to lock them up. We had to bribe the with treats.
We loved them.
In fact, we’ve loved them so much that when people come to the house, they are excited to have guests. Guests mean cookies. Through dedication, training and consistent love, our dogs can even be friends with some other neighborhood dogs now.
And some of the neighbours who initially complained about our yappy dogs?
Even they grudgingly don’t mind our pooches.
Love + Time = healthy, happy, well adjusted pooches.
I believe that we’re a lot like my dogs. When we’ve been hurt, love and caring and time are keys to healing.
Were there times where we doubted the wisdom to keep loving the little monsters?
And, I couldn’t imagine our house without them.
It’s like the old saying goes:
It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and I’m wearing Milkbone underpants.