It’s been two years since we buried Petruccio, the Incorrigible. Three years since Buffy, the best dog ever, died. We weren’t in a hurry to get another. Then I got a hip replacement, and had to learn to walk again – dogs need walking. Then I got cancer, and had to get my right arm working properly again. I hold my dog leashes with both hands. Finally, about a month ago, I felt strong enough both mentally and physically to get another dog.
Adopting a stray dog is becoming almost as difficult as adopting a human child. When I filled out the adoption forms for approval, I felt pressured not to admit that I hadn’t liked Petruccio. I wrote about the good times with Buffy and about how she selected Petruccio when we took her to the shelter. I filled out forms for 3 animal rescue agencies. I gave them names of neighbors who had known our dogs. And I waited.
One agency called and interviewed me. When I said that I let my dogs have free reign in my home and 24 / 7 access to the dog door, the interviewer disqualified me. She believes in crating dogs and not giving them freedom. That left two agencies.
One called to tell me that the dogs I had wanted to meet on their website had already gone to their forever homes. I asked about other dogs. She said to check the website.
The third one called my neighbors. Both neighbors told me that the interviewer could have given me 3 human children in the time it took for them to be interviewed. These interviews lasted over an hour. Both my neighbors stressed that my dogs have freedom to use the dog door which lets them into my fenced yard. My dogs get walks. My dogs get fed with home made chicken soup poured over their official dog food. My dogs get plenty of playing time. I told the agency interviewer that the thing I want most from a dog is the dog should like being with us.
Finally, I got the call – there was a male shih tsu mutt I could meet downtown. The adoption agency had named him Jeff Spicoli.
My husband, the alien, and I, biked 4 miles to the rescue center. There, a 3-year-old human boy was visiting the available animals with his family. The family was there to donate their deceased dog’s food and toys. The boy wanted to meet the shih tsu mutt. The shih tsu mutt wanted to meet the boy. The three of us went into the room. Jeff only had eyes and nose for the boy. He ignored us. He played very nicely with the boy. He was gentle. He was enthusiastic. And when the boy left, he looked out the window in the door, watching after the boy.
We told the women running the center that we understood if they’d rather give the dog to the boy’s family. They said the boy’s family wasn’t ready for another dog yet. They suggested we go for a walk and come back after the boy and his family had left.
We went for a walk. We stopped at a snack shop and ordered Dark Side of the Moon just because it had a silly name. I make much better chocolate cake, but we split one slice and ate it. We went back. The Shih Tsu mutt (I couldn’t make myself call him Jeff Spicoli) was willing to play with us since there was no human boy available. He brought us a green plastic toy. We threw the toy. He brought us the toy. We threw the toy. It was sort of a truce. We weren’t as much fun as a 3-year-old boy, but we would do. He wasn’t Buffy, the world’s best dog ever, but he had potential.
I told the women who run the center that I’m not going to adopt a human child to go with this dog, but that the dog seemed like a good fit for us.
We biked home. We rented a car from our car share group, loaded it up with our dog carrying box, and went back to get him. We talked about the Shih Tsu Mutt. He needed a name. This little dog looked like a small version of those stone lions outside of restaurants in Chinatown. We decided to call him Roar.
Roar only took a few days to master our dog door. He has also mastered our stairs. The adoption center gave us the green plastic toy. He loves to chase it and bring it back. He loves to go for walks. We aren’t supposed to let him sniff other dogs for 2 weeks because he has been exposed to kennel cough. If he gets it, they’ll give us medicine. If not, he needs to be cleared by our vet. Then he can sniff and be sniffed.
Roar alternates between high energy play time and lolling time in which he is awake, but observing us without moving. I’m thinking of giving him the middle name of Zen.
It’s odd to have a dog again. I have to remind myself that I have to walk a dog first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I have to add dog food to my grocery list. I’d gotten out of these habits. But being greeted by a dog when I come home. Wiggle. Wiggle. Jump. It’s time to sit down and let me lick you and climb in your lap. That’s a good human.