As a dog person, I am in a new chapter in my life. I may in fact, be creating a new font, and going by the working title of Adogbe—Bold Italic.
In my earlier dog life, I was a Great Dane person. This is typically defined as one who owns, shows, judges, and/or breeds the Apollo of dogs. Realistically it means you own a super sized pooper scooper, have elevated feeding stands, and try to smile when you are asked for the 3 zillionth time “Hey can you ride that dog if you put a saddle on it?” Great Danes are not the Einsteins of dogs, but they are certainly the kindest. Their liquid brown eyes melt even the coolest of Cruella da Ville hearts, and nothing is more appealing than a three-month old fawn puppy following behind, in the human equivalent of size 18 feet.
But. (And don’t be fooled by imposters, ‘but’ is the most powerful word in any language.) They have a short life span. And for me, this predetermined fact became too much to bear. When you see grey hairs on a 15 month-old muzzle and feel the looming sadness sidle up and sit on your shoulder, you eventually wave the white tissue that has been in your hand too many times in two decades.
Friends suggested I get a Standard Poodle. “They are perfect. You like the size and they are truly the best dogs.” The endorsements were generic and without specificity. Mentally I scoffed. ‘Best dogs’ sounded much like how one hometown cheers for their NFL team.
But I capitulated and bought a fabulous white standard puppy that was named Eliot, appropriately, after the second greatest creature, as it turns out, to possess the moniker T.S.
And I discovered why all previous mention of Standards being ‘the best’ had such seeming vagueness in the description. There are limits to all we typically measure; 1 to 100, failure through A+, unacceptable through excellent. Standards are outliers on any bell curve and past the limits of acceptable standard deviation (no pun intended). So saying “Standards are the best” is factually ‘rounding down’ for simplified clarification.
Eliot’s lineage and pedigree determined that he was a reflective “thinkatician”. He acted as a Gandhi figure in the trials and tribulations between house cats and quirky Danes, and followed the simple mantra of taking only what was absolutely needed in life and offering love and comfort to masses that came his way.
When Eliot passed away, I felt a psychical renting of my spirit; my equilibrium was so off it was as if the weight of his loss kept me listing from one side to the other.
I knew the only thing that could restore my sense of balance was the companionship of another Standard.
My work friends all encouraged me to go the animal shelter and recue a dog that had been abandoned. And I recognized the merit of that factor. But, my lifelong love of the ‘purebred’ dog aligned, and I went in search of a Standard rescue.
Atticus was technically a ‘rescue’ dog. He was four and a half years old and needed a new home. I’ve described this previously as a re-gifting. What else could it be? He carried the literary name of one who is ethical and wise, and he uses these traits daily, along with his candid sense of humor and stoic calmness. What can I say; he is the ‘best dog’.
In December, my daughter, in reflection, stated simply, “Atticus will be seven this coming year.” I forced breath in and out of my lungs and psychically pulled myself up as I started to slide a little to the left. I mentally stacked and restacked the boxes of ashes on my closet floor until the grayness rounded in on my peripheral vision. Was it fate, serendipity, or the muses of all dog owners that had me open the home page to the Standard Poodle Rescue web site a few days later?
Two Standard black nine-week old puppies were available. Within two weeks, one was riding home with me.
Here’s the funny part and where we start to go into that new chapter written in the odd new font called Adogbe. As humans we like to pre-name our companions if we are given the option. We have nine months to play with putting first and middle names together before delivery of our children. We have 63 days to figure out the
theme name for a litter of puppies. (In truth, and an option, I might have changed my husband Bob’s name to Antonio, or at least something a little less tagged, but that’s a whole different book.)
In the two weeks before actually taking possession of the new puppy, we toyed with names and determined he should be called Watson. This, the famous sidekick of Sherlock Holmes, was the literary genius (literarily anyway) who parlayed all the adventures for mankind. The name seemed to meld with those that were and had been in residence.
Watson entered our lives a bit like a dervish. His rescue had been literal—born to a 4 year-old mom on her ninth litter. He spent seven weeks nursing and living on the land, or at least the dirt floor of a doghouse. Besides having a lack of clean and soft bedding no one read to him from the AKC Standards about the characteristics and temperament of a “Standard Poodle”. Like the former ads for 7-Up being the “un-cola”, Watson is the “Un-Standard”.
A common comparison that is widely accepted (in humans) often divides people in two classes; those that prefer beer, and those that prefer champagne. I proffer that Watson would prefer Moonshine albeit not from a Mason jar, but something as nonsensical as a watering can.
We have realized our ‘mistake’ in naming our young dog after the prolific writing Doctor and have adapted his call name to something more in line with “What Son?” But, he also comes to “No!”, “Stop!” and “Don’t Jump On Atticus!”
In his seven weeks at Casa Bosley, Watson has been discovered sleeping under dog beds, playing with empty milk bottles from the recycling bin instead of Wubbas, and Greenies. He prefers to bounce on top of the pool cover ensuring the matting of his young featherings. He is also perfecting his ability to do several things at one time; currently this is “peeing” while walking.
So in my new chapter, I may be temporarily lost in the new land of what seems like “Git ‘er Done Poodles”, trying to detox and educate a young mind.
But. Don’t worry too much; this is still ‘the best’.
Watson at 10 weeks.