It had to be fate because somehow in that storm of unpleasant sounds and smells we found each other.
We were face to face, eye to eye, assessing each other.
I thought No, he looks too much like the dog I grew up with and I don’t want a re-run; I want a new edition
And he just looked at me.
My son squatted down to his level and squealed He’s perfect!
So we took him home – after paying $50, being grilled to determine our suitability as prospective dog owners and after filling out more forms than I had to fill out at at the hospital after I had each of my children.
I thought Maybe more children would be happier if we screened parents the way the dog pound screens adopting pet owners.
The name on his cage at the pound was Handsome, so that’s what we called him. Handsome, indeed.
He was a Miniature Poodle – Bichon Frise mix. That’s what it said on the card.
I was grateful that we aren’t always labeled by our ancestry. Irish – English mix. That’s what mine would say.
Then I realized that some people are labeled by their ancestry because of the color of their skin, and I was a little ashamed. Ashamed of a thought unspoken.
We took Handsome home.
He broke out of the house and ran away on the very first day. I don’t know if this is going to work out, I told myself.
I felt frantic as I searched, knowing I had to find him, even though others heard me mutter things like Damn dog, I knew this was a mistake.
We found him two days later, rescued by a neighbor.
I was relieved, joyful. He jumped into my arms and licked my face. I kissed him and whispered into his ear Don’t you ever leave me again.
He never did.
The months rolled by, then a year.
His new adoptee behavior wore off and his own personality emerged.
Protective, loving, stubborn, smart.
He learned his own name and a few cute little tricks, but his own strong will persisted.
He showed us who was boss by pooping in the living room (regularly) or barking at one of the kids.
But no matter what, every time I came home, he’d jump into my arms and wiggle with joy
He’d snuggle next to me while I slept
Lick the tears from my cheek when I cried
Run to me when I called his name (and even my kids never did that)
Seem to listen to me when I needed to talk, even if he wasn’t (a trick my husband has yet to learn).
In the day to day moments of home life, he became a member of the family, an ever-present quiet (usually), loving (almost always) companion.
Sometimes I wonder how life would have been different if I had walked by him at the pound to the hyper little chihuahua in the next cage or the gorgeous Australian Shepherd across the aisle.
Sometimes I wonder Who owned him before he was found wandering in the country and taken to the dog pound?
Do they have any idea what they missed? Of course not.
It’s probably their fault that he poops he in the living room.
It can’t be his. Or mine.