For a long time I’ve been feeling bad about Buck having to spend all day by himself with nothing to do. Shepherding dogs are well known for being high-energy critters that are bred to work all day, not to mention that their highly intelligent minds need stimulating conversation and difficult puzzles to solve.
It has been so trying for me to see the sadness in Buck’s face when we get back from our morning walk and he knows he has a good 10 hours to sit around with nothing to do until some time after Daddy gets home from work. 😦
Those walks have been inexorably stretching out as a result. The original intention was 30 minutes a morning, rain or shine or snow or hail or sleet or whatever. That turned into 45 minutes every morning. And lately it’s been close to an hour every morning. I don’t begrudge him that as it’s a joy to walk him, but no matter how long we stay out there’s always the big sigh, dejected swallow or two, and crushingly bored look when we get home and he plops down in the living room.
Then I recently read this great book named Amazing Gracie about a deaf Great Dane and two guys who founded a dog treat company called Three Dog Bakery. One of them had two dogs and the other had Gracie and they all lived in one house, and the guys somehow found time to work 12 hours a day while establishing this dog treat company while still keeping three dogs around. Well, I try to get in lots of hours too between my work hours and my research and writing hours, so, I thought, maybe two dogs is doable without killing my attempts at being productive outside of work hours.
What would it hurt just to look? Next thing you know my browser was pointing at PetFinder.com and the screen zeroed in on a dog that looked like a perfect match – a border collie mix named Manny at the nearby Human Society shelter. Saturday morning Karen and Zoe and I drove by there just to take a look. Wouldn’t hurt to look, would it?
Like going to test drive a car “just to look.” Who hasn’t done that and driven away unexpectedly with a new car? I know that as much as anyone but shut it out of my mind.
Well, we get there and I look at Manny and he seems perfect and we ask if we can take her out and meet her and they say no. He can’t go to a home with other dogs. Not dog-friendly.
Meanwhile we’ve browsed the other canines in the shelter and there’s this calm German Shepherd mix about Buck’s size with big sad eyes looking up at his from his little bed. Name is Cookie. On their “canine-ality” sheet she is labeled a wall-flower and seems calm and friendly. We decide to meet her and she’s quite friendly. And her face and facial expressions bear an uncanny resemblance to Buck’s. She practically begs us to take her home.
Having had a little forethought about how things might play out, we had brought Buck with us. We introduce them and they play nicely together.
Not wanting to make a rash decision we might regret later, we decided not to adopt her immediately but we would put her “on hold.” That would at least let us sleep on it. Then Tony too, my teenage son, wanted to take a look and we drove by. He approved and now we had positive vibes from every family member. Things were looking positive but we needed that night to sleep on it.
Then a friend called with two fantastic seats to Sunday’s Mariners game – 3rd row up from the third-base dugout. That would take up much of Sunday, making a Sunday pickup of Cookie problematic.
Besides, we had waited when we got Buck and that had almost been a disaster. We put him on hold and said we’d come get him after school ended in a couple weeks. Then just two days before we were to pick him up I got a phone call. “Buck’s had an accident.” the voice in the phone said. Two years ago and I remember the call, and what was said and where I was and what I was doing vividly. He’d been injured, and although it wasn’t life-threatening, we didn’t think we were ready to adopt an injured puppy. So they put the little guy up for adoption again. A few days later we changed our minds. We’d grown attached to that picture on PetFinder of the cream-colored puppy with a stick in his mouth. But by then a woman was coming to look at him, we were told, and we had to wait to see if that woman would take him. So we waited on pins and needles to see if we’d lost him. Somehow that woman turned down the best dog in the world. Must have been divine intervention. And we said we’d take him, and the rest is history.
So perhaps rashness this time would be OK. Besides, if things don’t work out, the shelter would always take her back, right? It’s not like it’s an immediate life-long commitment with absolutely no way out. Or that’s what I told myself, anyway. So I drove back and picked her up. I did get “buyer’s remose” that evening as I walked the two dogs together. So many things now become more problematic with two dogs than they were with one. But she’s already worming her way into our hearts. And they’re great playmates.
And that, I suppose is the end of this story and the beginning of another one.
Cookie and Buck enjoying meat-market bones.