Or is it whom? I never know.
Either way today’s blog is about the choice to expand our party of two to a party of three, or would that be two and a half?
One of the many hard things about leaving my old life behind was saying goodbye to my dogs. It just wasn’t practical to uproot two aging critters to a new and radically different environment than the one they’d always known, nor was it possible, given my ex’s equal (ok, I’ll be fair, greater…) love of and devotion to them. My new love had wanted to get a dog for a while but the realities of his work life made that goal unlikely to be fulfilled. That is till I came along.
We talked about it for a few weeks, discussing rescuing a dog versus raising a puppy, realizing that there were rewards and pitfalls to either choice. Having come from having larger dogs and dealing with the inherent challenges of boarding, feeding, grooming and picking up after them I knew I’d prefer a solo dog and that owing to future travel plans, I’d prefer said dog to be of a more portable size.
Soon I remembered the joys (not) of puppy raising and the upside of rescuing an abandoned soul and opted for a pre-owned canine companion. My partner wasn’t concerned much with the details, but he was excited at the idea in general. Since I had infinitely more free time than did he, and would be primarily be responsible for the care and upkeep of whatever dog I chose, I was entrusted with doing the research and making the ultimate decision.
Tentatively I began perusing the various rescue sites online. Page after page of nothing I wanted to bring home confronted me. Surprisingly, many of the local rescue organizations, on top of having less than optimal available dogs, also made meeting with any potential new family members something of a, you’ll excuse the expression, pain in the ass. One place had no real location you could visit, just transported dogs to various Petsmart locations on the weekends, another housed their dogs in a nearby correctional facility in a program designed to help both prisoners and discarded pets. While I applauded the efforts of these noble organizations, their availability was not matching up with mine (Yes I know, first world problems…). I told myself to be patient; that it would be worth the wait to get just the right little fur ball for us.
On a side note, I must take a moment to commend whomever it was that was writing the descriptions of many of the dogs on the websites. I checked out a couple of the adoption events, and every dog I encountered behaved NOTHING like the way they had been described, nor did they look much like their well-crafted photos.
My search continued, and was interrupted by several weekends in a row of previously scheduled travel plans. Still, I felt that I had been lucky in my choices so far and that if I kept an open mind the right baby would come to us.
A few weeks later as I resumed my obsessive trolling of the Internet, a certain boy caught my eye. He was of the requisite age, size, and apparent temperament. I casually mentioned that on the next Sunday I might just swing by the Petsmart and maybe check him out, you know, just for kicks. My partner in crime tried not to roll his eyes or warn me not to get my hopes up too high. An effort I truly appreciated.
Sunday arrived and as he went off to his fulfill his plans for the day, so did I. It was a little before the adoption event was due to begin and the workers were busily unloading crates of agitated, barking dogs of all sizes. I tried to stay out of the way while stealthily checking to see if the one they called ‘Teddy’ was anywhere around. Eventually someone noticed my lurking and asked who or what I might be looking for. I asked about ‘Teddy’ and she responded that there had been quite a bit of interest in him via phone and email and even though he had only come to them the day before, she felt certain he wouldn’t last the day without being adopted.
Great, just wave a red flag in front of a bull why don’t you? Now you tell me he is sweet, cute AND in great demand? Oh sheesh, I’m in trouble. I feigned a casual air as I calmly inquired as to whether I could meet the man of the hour. The volunteer let me sit in a hastily retrieved chair and told me she’d go and fetch him. In my head I went through all the reasons he would be unsuitable and how wrong the timing of getting him was. That was until around the corner she came with a furry, shaking little ball and laid him in my lap. He was shaggy, and a tad smelly, but not horrible, and when I lifted him up off my lap to inspect him more closely, he burrowed into my neck, planting soft kisses wherever he could reach. Well, shit. Game, set and match little one, you just found your new mama.
About that time I happened to look up at a small crowd forming around me. Apparently I was the first, but far from the last person who had come to see this guy. One couple had been the day before but couldn’t quite pull the trigger. They stared blankly at me, as did a hopeful looking elderly woman and a third family with two little kids. Two quotes came immediately to mind, one from television and one from a movie, both of which had been spoken endlessly by my two sons in the past. The first, from the Wes Anderson film, “The Life Aquatic” was, “Not this one, Klaus.” And the second, from a “Saturday Night Live” skit was, “Suck it Trebek.” I tried to look humble and pleasant as I gingerly elbowed past the crestfallen crowd toward the woman in charge.
The volunteer who had handed Teddy to me in the first place came back to retrieve him. No deal. I wasn’t taking any chances on someone accidentally giving him to someone else. “I’m good.” I replied, while angling my body to let her know I had no intention of relinquishing my prize. She laughed and shrugged and pointed me to a table in the back where a tired but determined looking woman sat with a clipboard. Back I went, while already making a mental listing of the things my new baby was going to need.
Sadly, these situations are rarely smooth or straightforward. Just as I was getting used to the idea of bundling my little guy into the car there was a stop sign placed in my path. “Uh, you know he’s not neutered yet, right?” the tired looking woman asked me. I imagined that it wasn’t a problem, that I’d be happy to take him home, clean him up and deliver him to the veterinary professional of her choosing bright and early the next morning. Yeah right. I was then treated to a fifteen minute lecture on the legal ramifications of any rescue allowing an unaltered animal to leave its confines, because you know, my goal was to take my sweet baby to the nearest doggie house of ill repute so he could knock up as many little bitches as he could manage. She raised a calloused hand to my not yet fully formed protest. It was clear that I was allowed to pay for him, buy whatever things he’d need, and go home empty armed. Over protective mother bear be damned, I was gonna lose this fight and possibly the opportunity of adopting him at all unless I willingly complied.
Comply I did, and happily paid his fees, in cash don’t you know, while the other disappointed families looked on. I made arrangements to have him groomed while he waited to be transported to the vet and to pick him up from the animal hospital the next afternoon. Then I went on a little dog shopping spree that meant at least I’d be taking home something.
I couldn’t wait to share the good news of our impending arrival. The pressing topic became what to name him, as his original name had been Warren, which would never do, and the shelter had re-branded him Teddy, which wasn’t working for me either. We decided to wait and see what he seemed like when we got him home.
Originally I hadn’t officially cared whether we got a girl or a boy, but my experience had been that boy dogs tended to be more loving so I was happy with how things turned out. The rescue hadn’t known, or at least shared a lot about ‘Teddy’s’ history other than that he had pretty much lived in a garage without a lot of exposure or stimulation and was around two years old. That meant I was going to have to work harder at getting him up to speed on his socialization. Not a problem since I planned to pretty much take him everywhere with me. Yes, I planned to become one of ‘those women’. While a doggie baby carriage was definitely not in my future, I had already been researching the Internet for local dog friendly restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs. I’d also bought a carry bag for him so he could come with me to the dog friendly stores in the mall I’d read about, all the better to get him used to the world he’d had so little experience with.
Finally it was time to bring him home. He was a little sleepy looking but otherwise didn’t seem traumatized by the whole event. The vet said she thought he was closer to eighteen months than two years old, and that at thirteen pounds, he was probably a couple pounds under what he should weigh. I thanked her for her advice and off we went, my new baby and me.
First up was a walk since I figured he’d been in a cage all day. Whether or not he was potty trained was a mystery but I was keeping my fingers crossed on that. Sure enough, he peed and pooped like a champ, which relieved us both.
We were still undecided as to his name and started tossing them out trying them on for size. None of them seemed to ring a bell until he heard, “What’s up, Woodrow?” at that he sat right up and looked at us. “Is that your name?” I asked him, “Are you Woody?” Again, he perked right up. Alrighty then, Woody it was. It suited him, and us just fine.
And so we became a happy little party of three, a bit sooner than we expected but again, when the right dog (or man…) comes along, I’ve learned not to question, just to go along for the ride…