Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm an Immigrant in the Land of Dog

It appears I have a dog. How did this happen? It was a coup de foudre standing on the outside of a kennel looking in at 9 bouncing six week old puppies. They belonged to my neighbours in the country. He wanted to spay his Chocolate Lab and decided to let her have one litter before he did. I've seen 101 Dalmations, but really I was kind of shocked to think a fairly little dog would give birth to nine!!!! puppies.

This one looked right at me and jumped up against the side of the pen. I knew she wanted to jump into my arms. It was like she had searched her whole life for me and finally found me! How could I resist that call to action??? Can puppies hypnotize people? I think they can. I picked her up and she melted into my body, smelling like something not all that nice, Eau de Puppy Crate. Sawdust and remnants of whatever else. But I didn't care, she was so warm and just collapsed into me. After a couple of minutes of holding her my brain started working on its own saying crazy things like, "I want to have this puppy."

Finally we went back home, leaving her there, with her littermates and mother. My son and I fantasized about what we would do with a puppy, what we would call her, what our lives would be like if we had her.
Julian instantly thought of a name, one which I thought was fairly appalling. Kubokan. I said, I don't think so. Too long.* But no other name popped into my head. We went for a walk in a conservation area, crossed a suspension bridge, and talked about the puppy thing. I said, look at that trail. If we had the dog, we could go walking down that trail, with her.

We went back to the city, 150 miles away from puppy temptation. We sort of forgot about the dog. But two weeks later I drove back out, and as I got in the car I suddenly thought, I wonder if I'll be coming back with a dog? My neighbour dropped by to talk about some stuff, he does maintenance for me at my place. I said, do you still have the puppies? I figured the one I liked, the smallest, the prettiest, the cutest, couldn't possibly still be there. He said there were three left. I arranged to come over and see them later that morning. Just to see them. Walked over and there she was. A little bigger, but still that same little face. Black, with butterscotch eyebrows. Too cute. She seemed to know who I was. Picked her up and it was game over.

That small rational piece of my brain did kick in slightly and I said, "I'd like to take her. But I don't know if it will work out at my place in the city. It's small. Real small. And I have the cats. I don't know how she'll manage with the cats. So, I can take her for a trial, as long as I can bring her back if it doesn't work out." My neighbour said, fine.

I'm still not totally sure how it's working out, but after almost 2 weeks of being a puppy owner I've had my heart melted, and my nerves fry repeatedly. Over and over and over again. One minute I think I can do it and the next minute it's, "No, what was I thinking? This is insane. She's gotta go back."

You see, I am an immigrant in the Land of Dog. Never had a dog. Never looked after a dog. Never really ever known a dog. Not well. I've always been a cat person. I've even been a little scared of dogs my whole life. Except for the ones that look like stuffed animals. Which is the kind of dog I'd been hankering after--off and on for the past few years. Just in an internet-browsing sort of fantasy way.

But I guess this is one of those Life Happens to You While You're Busy Making Other Plans kind of thing. I could still decide not to keep her, I guess. The bloom is off the rose for my son, definitely. He's wanting things to go back to the way it was, pre-dog. But as each day goes by, I'm getting a little better at learning this new dog language. I'm still on Ellis Island, and I'm waiting in line. Hoping for the best.

* Her name is now Isadora: Izzy.


Kari L√łnning said...

Welcome to a new world. You'll have the BEST of times and possibly the worst of them (when my first Old English got sick). My cats taught the first OES to hunt with them ... I hope your house hold finds a happy mix.

Yvonne aka Country Gardener said...

The best of luck to you in becoming a dog person too. Puppies are lovely, but it's like parenthood - a huge commitment. Fortunately, they don't take quite as long to grow up as children do, but sadly, they don't live as long as they ought to.

PChefLucy said...

I've had both... and find that cats sort of meander around your heart, while dogs move right in. My advice? Let them! (Oh, and to answer your question, "Can puppies hypnotize people?" You bet!)

Annie in Austin said...

No personal experience with this, Sarah, but my daughter has changed from a cat-only person to a cat & dogs person in the last couple of years.
Part that cracks me up is that the small, old female cat is still "top dog".

Good luck!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Sarah said...

Yvonne, I didn't remember the life expectancy of dogs was so short. Cats live so long. Even so, you're right, it is a huge commitment, but as each day goes by it's getting a bit easier to be a dog-parent.

Kari, the mixing with the cats was less onerous than I thought it would be. No major spats. One little hissy fit, from my cat Willow. Hope they'll learn to be friends, or at least comfortable associates.

Chef Lucy, what a wonderful thought about cats meandering and dogs moving right in. You are so right. That seems to be the way it's happening.

Annie, I think my cat Willow will definitely be asserting her Top Dogness in our house too. I never expected to be a dog person, but I guess being thrown in the deep end, it just starts happening. Whether you like it or not. I'm actually really starting to like it.

Xander Markham said...

Isadora is a lovely name, one of my favourites. Lucky you getting a new puppy, I have a ten year old black labrador called Oddjob and watching him growing up and developing his lovely personality is one of the great (ongoing) joys of my life. For all the difficult early bits, you have so much joy ahead of you. Congrats to you and Izzy!