"Mom, Ruby needs a companion dog."
My flawlessly logical oldest child then laid out his case: Our nine year-old Sheltie is slowing down (a fact that was confirmed by our vet, who put her on a regimen of glucosamine and chondroitin - the same stuff they give less hairy middle-aged folk). While two of our three cats (the Maine Coons) are quite doglike - and bigger than a great many dogs - they just aren't that keen on a romp around the dog park, or having a fetch. And, busy humans that we are, we simply aren't doing enough to keep her occupied and active.
So the search for dog #2 began, with local city ordinances (our three cats put us at the city-mandated upper limit for feline ownership, but we were two shy of the canine maximum) and Petfinder on our side. First candidate: Hoku, a Sheltie mix hailing from the northern environs of Big D. Her Petfinder profile looked promising - complete fetch monster, loves kids and cats, etc. I contacted her host rescue group and completed their adoption package, which MIGHT have been a page or two lighter than the adoption package that you have to complete when you adopt a human child . . . but I kinda doubt it. After enduring what I call a "full cavity search on paper," I was instructed to wait for a phone call that I would receive within twenty four hours. I followed up with an e-mail, explaining that Hoku would be a companion animal to our existing dog and that it probably made sense to introduce Ruby and the kids to her before we proceeded, to see if things would gel. I also asked them to call me on my work phone. Person that I have to assume is an unpaid volunteer called a day later than specified, called Parnell instead of me, and asked when we were available for our home study. Parnell essentially read her my e-mail over the phone and, oh-so-politely, suggested that we bring dog and children to them, thus saving the rescue dog a stressful trip in the car and a visit to a strange home if nothing was going to come of the exercise. This idea . . . DID. NOT. COMPUTE. Stepford Volunteer abruptly veered in another direction and made the apropos-of-not much pronouncement, "If you adopt this dog, she will need a job." (One has to assume that she was reading off of some sort of breed standard applicable to herding dogs?) Parnell swallowed several obvious sarcastic responses and advised Stepford Volunteer that he is self-employed and has the ability (and, frequently, given that he helps his mother with business issues, the excuse) to visit the family ranch property during the day. Thus, if Hoku was a herder, she would have multiple Herefords at her disposal. Parnell: "Does she like to herd?" Stepford Volunteer: "I have no idea." Ooooohhhhhkaaaayyy.
Then Stepford Volunteer mentioned that Hoku was still in the middle of her heartworm eradication treatments and would not be available for some time. Ummmmm . . . . Petfinder profile clearly stated that she had had heartworms in the past but was now "heartworm-free." Present tense. We started to wonder what other artistic license had been taken with her profile. Was she actually a dog? While her adorably fuzzy face in the profile pic appeared doglike, it did bear a certain resemblance to a publicity still for Wicket the Ewok from "Return of the Jedi" (which I continue to maintain is the THIRD Star Wars movie, because those God-awful prequels don't count . . . but I digress).
Biggest problem was that, given pending heartworm treatments, Hoku would have to be kept absolutely calm during our introductory visit with her, as an increase in heart rate and body temperature could result in the heartworms squirming through the lining of her heart, resulting in death by embolism. Ummmm . . . hmm. So our options are to (1) meet the dog while she's sedated, thus getting no accurate read on her personality, or (2) kill her? Thanks, but we think we'll look elsewhere.
So, unbeknownst to me, Parnell - who now is in full-on "dog acquisition" mode (he gets this way about lots of things - flat-screen TV's, computers, mammals - he's a born comparison shopper) - starts visiting Animal Control, and bonds with our second candidate (and eventual winner - but, oh, it was a LONG way from candidate to winner). Only, he can't exactly explain to me what the second candidate IS. "He's, like, REALLY burnt orange and kind of corgi-ish? And he's sort of so ugly that he's cute." (Hey, I said he was a born comparison shopper; I didnt' say anything about his salesmanship skills.) Yes, I could have gone to the pound to personally inspect him, resolving all doubt as to what "he" was, but that would involve me going to the pound, and I don't do the pound. I have a very strong sense that if I went to the pound, I would go bat-you-know-what crazy and run around opening all of the cages shouting, "RUN! RUN TO FREEDOM!"
Instead, Parnell took both kids, one at a time, to meet Mystery Dog. Both kids took to Mystery Dog, and Parnell informed Animal Control that we wanted to adopt him. (I'm glossing over a good part here - he showed up early in the morning to fill out paperwork, based on Web site information that said "Office opens at 8 am, but no animals will be shown before noon." Since he had already been shown the animal, and liked - whatever - it was he saw, he figured it would be possible to fill out paperwork at 8 am. Wrong. "We don't let people fill out paperwork until noon . . . . but I suppose I can get it for you." After a fifteen-minute delay, Disgruntled Office Worker - who just might have been Stepford Volunteer from the other place, post-job change - disappeared into a back office, returned several minutes later, sat in her chair, and SWIVELED IT AND RETRIEVED THE ADOPTION PAPERWORK FROM A TRAY IMMEDIATELY BEHIND HER. Then she disappeared again, never to return. So Parnell took the paperwork to go . . . . Oh, and one other chestnut - when he asked if Mystery Dog got on well with cats, the person showing Mystery Dog to him said, "Let's find out," and essentially tossed Mystery Dog into the cat enclosure. I am not making this up. Fortunately, the experiment worked out well for all parties.)
AFTER three-fourths of the family got attached to Mystery Dog (who, by then, we had identified as a dorgi - half-dachshund, half-corgi), the Animal Control brain trust tested him for heartworm. Yup - positive. "Okay, you'll have to keep him absolutely calm for six weeks, or he'll die." Nice. A dog, two kids and three cats . . . . Plans for a slumber party involving multiple ten year-old boys . . . . Yeah, can you say, "Death sentence for poochie?" Parnell inquired as to the availability of a volunteer who could foster him during the six weeks; DENIED. (I hear that the ASPCA does provide this service, which is good information to have, but a day late and a dollar short in our case.) Helpful Worker then reminded Parnell of the thirty-day money-back guarantee on all animals: "You can take him to your vet, and if the vet says that he just needs heartworm pills, there's no problem. If he needs more than that, you can drop him back off and get a full refund." SERIOUSLY????? WHO DOES THAT????? So, needless to say, we decided to part ways with Mystery Dog, for his own good.
And then the crying jag (mine) started. I wept, on and off, for four days over a dog that I technically had never even met. In my fevered imagination, this dog had identified my sweet husband and precious children as his "forever family," only to be cruelly kicked (back) to the curb. It got to be comical - I would be going around my daily business and, suddenly, I would think of Mystery Dog and the waterworks would start.
So two weeks pass, I meet Parnell for lunch on his birthday, and - being congenitally blonde - I see the envelope marked "Adoption Papers" in his car and think nothing of it when he hastily flips it over before we head into the restaurant. Hey, I was thinking it was something he just received from a client (he's been known to do some family law occasionally), and he wanted to safeguard it from prying eyes. However, I did think it odd that immediately upon finishing our tacos at Yucatan he said, "Let's go." Huh? This from the man who accuses me of too infrequently including me in my lunch plans? He elaborated: "There's something that I want to show you in the car."
"Is it a dog? Because I don't recall you cracking the windows?"
We get to the car, he hands me an Animal Control bandanna, and I start freaking out . . . in a bad way. It's too soon, I'm still grieving (bizarrely and irrationally) for Mystery Dog, and then there's the whole "I'm never going to step across the threshold of the pound, EVER" thing working against us. So he hands me the "Adoption Papers" envelope - and, slowly, the pieces floating in my blonde brain start to click.
He to me: "I'm telling you this on my birthday, because it's my birthday, and you're not going to get really, REALLY mad at a fellow on his birthday, right? I'm somewhat insulated, on account of how it's my birthday."
Me to he: [Sobbing noises.]
He to me: "Okay, are those good tears?"
Me to he: [More sobbing noises, coupled with vigorous up and down head motions.]
Turns out that, at some point during day four of my "I think we just sent a dog to the death chamber" pity party, my dear, sweet spouse took a leap of faith, adopted Mystery Dog, and threw himself at the mercy of our dear, sweet vet . . . who agreed to give Mystery Dog the heartworm treatments AND board him for the duration.
So, for the last five weeks, we've had another dog. Who I still haven't met. Because various delays keep getting thrown into our path . . . . We were supposed to have him by Thanksgiving - but the vet decided to wait another week in an abundance of caution. We called to pick him up on Monday, and they told us to wait until Wednesday. Wednesday came, and they told us that they wanted to do one more test, and to schedule pickup for Thursday. Thursday came, and we were told to wait until 3 pm when Dr. Tierce would be in the office and, I guess, available to talk about follow-up treatment stuff.
Now it's 4:45 pm, and maybe, JUST MAYBE, we'll have our Mystery Dog shortly after 5. Kids have no idea. Oh, and Mystery Dog is now named Rusty, because Parnell choked when they asked him for a name at the vet and blurted out "Rusty," because he's rust-colored. One has to assume that they have been calling him Rusty for the last five weeks, so Rusty it shall be. We're big fans of the show, "Greek," on ABC Family, and we love the main character, Rusty "Spitter" Cartwright. We're also big fans of the National Lampoon Vacation franchise, so full name most likely will be Rusty "Spitter" Cartwright Griswold Batdog McGlinchey. (I have to throw in Batdog, because I'm advised that he has the most ginormous ears . . . . And, yes, I've seen cell phone pics, but he was moving his head around in all of them, so I can confirm that he has a body, a tail and a blur in the facial region.)
Photos to follow . . . hopefully.