Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crazy Dog People

I love dogs. You’d think I wouldn’t, having been flattened by a German shepherd
when I was 11, but I don’t blame his momentary lapse in judgment on the entire species.

We had a revolving door of strays and rescues in our house growing up. Each dog came with his own dysfunction, some personality defect that, sooner or later, was deemed intolerable by my father, Mr. Clean, and off he went. Poop on the rug? Dad’s not happy. Ate the birthday cake off the table? Really not happy. Scratched a hole right through the door?


Benji, the springer spaniel, spent more time in the air than paws on the ground. It was like living with a giant rubber ball that hit you in the head and licked your earlobes. Joey the cocker spaniel, preferred the taste of shoes and purses over hambones. Sash, the standard poodle, spent his days making booger art on our bay window. Tanya, the German shepherd, loved the cool freshness of toilet water and a tasty afternoon bite of the legs of the paper boy and mailman.

And then there was Beagie, the foster beagle, who showed us who was in the HOUSE. He had it out for upholstery: chewing it here, puking on it there and lifting his leg to it everywhere. He’d wait until
you’d found your sweet spot of sleep and then bark like a buzz saw. Just when you’d drift back, he’d reignite. I’m pretty sure he was laughing through it all. And during the day, we’d find him under the covers of my brother’s bed, head on the pillow.

Oliver the airedale, restored my faith in canines. He was BFF material – at your side, head on your leg, patient eyes -- but he was stubborn like wet denim. When he decided he had walked enough in the snow, he cemented his hind legs in the bank.

At home, he kept one eye on the door, never missing an opportunity for a prison break. We spent half his life scouring neighborhoods and corralling him back into the car.

The one thing Oliver taught me was to never back down. The kids and I have been holding our ground all these years in a campaign to adopt a dog. Hubs wasn’t having it.

Then one day we saw him on Petfinder. His name was Charger -- 15 pounds of marshmallow curly, face like a polar bear cub.
It was as if there were no other dogs to be had.

We showed Don the photo, fully knowing he’d say no. And he did. But what we didn’t expect was the faint smile that made its way across his face. There was the crack in the door.

I presented my case: kids are 15 and 13. They have waited long enough. He doesn’t shed. We’re getting a dog.

Before he could take back the, “Do what you want,” I had an appointment with Bichon FurKids Rescue. Charger was available.

For years, we told our friends that we wanted a dog that didn’t bark, bite, beg, jump, growl, whine, drool, lick, shed, eat your shoes, scratch the door, pee in the car, chase the repairman, drink from the toilet, poop in the house, sniff your crotch or hump your leg.

They laughed and suggested a stuffed dog.

Apparently the order we placed was well received by the doggy adoption gods, because Charger is all that. One hundred percent sweetness. Better behaved than anyone in this house.

Every day, my kids fight over who had the dog first, as if there aren’t enough hours in a day to share him.

My husband says I have crossed over from dog admirer to crazy dog lady. I don’t think that’s fair at all. He says I talk about Charger to family, friends and anyone who has ears. Hey, people seem very interested in seeing the Charger photo album. And then there’s the video collection.

What my husband won’t admit is how his heart has doubled in size. I caught him saying to Charger, “Do you know how much I love you?”

It’s been 7 months since Charger became a part of our family. And we realize now, that we needed him even more than he needed us.


Anonymous said...

How true! Watch out. Soon your family will be thinking about getting a second dog 'cuz the first one is so much a part of the family. I know; that's what I hear from my family.


San Diego Writer Girl said...

It's true! Almost weekly, I check out the Bichon FurKids website and melt over the photos of available dogs. I would love to have another one. I can't believe I never knew about this breed. They are so incredibly loving and sweet. (And fluffy and cute!)

Bad Swami said...

Wow, I'm jealous of your well behaved! I have a German Shepard mix and Chihuahua mix that are both mutt rescues. Every time we lose self control, we get another animal...we now have 3. It sounds like you've had quite the variety of dogs over the years. They always seem to steal our hearts. -Bad Swami

Tiffany Wu said...

I LOVE this.. it's just the greatest story ever!!! :)

When the "right" one comes along... and there's a true match there, everyone wins! The dog will be perfectly behaved and the people could never be happier.

I am sooo happy for you and Charger. There were many applicants that were perfect for bichons, but none quite right for this little guy.

San Diego Writer Girl said...

Thank you, Tiffany! It was your incredible intuition in knowing that Charger was the right dog for us. You have a such a knack for matching these beautiful creatures to the right owners. Thank you, thank you.