So the cat died. Lena came with two, and they left… twenty one years after she got them… within three months of each other. I think I still would have married her if I had known how long they were going to live, but happily I’ll never have to put that to the test.
The most recent one to leave us was Cleo. She had “claimed” me when Lena and I moved in together, to the extent that if I were to stop petting her in order to pay attention to Lena, the cat would bite her. Cleo eventually got over her possessiveness, and grew sweeter as she got older. Or possibly just slightly less bitchy. The upshot here is that while we were both greatly saddened at the passing of our cats, there was zero chance that we would be replacing them with more. Cats.
Guinness, our bird dog, was getting up there himself at eleven. Lena and I both were interested in getting him a little brother or sister to put a little energy back in his life and also so that we could enlist his aid in training the new dog. We were unwilling, however, to bring a young dog into the home whilst the geriatric kitty was still puttering about. It would have been unfair.
After an appropriate amount of time had passed from Cleo’s death, Lena and I began talking about adopting a new dog. Unlike even as short a period ago as Guinness’ adoption, the internet had ballooned into an amazingly prevalent tool for finding new furry family members. Everyone who adopts out animals posts pictures and bios of the pets they make available. It was a bewildering array of animals at first, but time… and a promise to each other to make an intelligent, non-emotionally blinded decision… came to our rescue.
To begin with, we knew we did not want any type of bulldog, or Staffordshire, or any other of the number of breeds renowned for their supernatural stubbornness. We did not want a large dog who could look over the edge of the kitchen counter like it was a buffet, nor were we interested in something small that would crack if someone tripped over it or dropped a pillow on it. Finally, we wanted a hound. Guinness has been hands-down the best pet either of us has owned. Reading up on him, we discovered that many of his best traits were endemic to the breed. We’d have another one of those, please.
Finally, after days of research, Lena found a litter of mixed breed hound pups in a pet rescue in the woods of southern Georgia. The pregnant mother had been dumped at the end of a dirt road to fend for herself, (I will die happy never understanding how a person could do this) and had given birth to seven pups. The mother and one of the puppies had been taken by speeding cars, but the rest were caught and penned by an elderly couple, who though they could not afford to keep them, at least knew who to call.
Lena and I drove out to the president of the rescue association’s (let’s call her Linda — it’s not her name but I’ve forgotten it and Lena isn’t home to ask) home on Sunday. The directions were fun and delivered with a delicious deep woods twanginess… “Just drive ’till you see a red light. It’s about twenty miles, but it’s the only one around here anywhere… When you see the pawn shop you’ll be thinking’ Oh Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, where I have I gotten myself to? It’s kinda scary what with that giant rebel flag they got up and all. Don’t stop there… You’ll see a great big ol’ off-white house, well really it’s sort of gray. It’s got a pretty white picket fence around it and an old Rottweiler. Don’t worry about him, he’s blind as a bat. Emma-Sue lives there with her husband Carl. She bakes the best pies you ever tasted. Keep driving about another ten miles… Just keep going down that dirt road until you see the cargo trailer with the sign painted on it selling hay bales poking’ out of the woods. That’s where our property starts. We’re the first drive after that on the left. Don’t wear nice shoes.”
Once there we were greeted by an avalanche of happy dogs and puppies. Linda kept everyone home with an Invisifence, which allowed the dogs free run of the property. Although I made up my mind within seconds of meeting the dogs, Lena needed to check them all out before she decided. (She’s like that with shoes, too.) Ultimately, we both agreed on a calm, stable-looking female named… no. I’m not going to tell you what she was named. I really don’t want to hear it again. It was bad. Like, named by crazy hill-folk bad. We changed it immediately.
On the way home we stopped at PetSmart. Our newly named puppy was eight months old, but had never even seen a leash before. We attached it to her collar and she froze, rooted to the spot, as if I were attempting to drag her off of a cliff. While a shopping cart temporarily solved our problem, we wanted to take her for a walk with Guinness when we got home to properly introduce them. Fortunately for us the trainers were on hand at PetSmart to help us out, and we had her walking tall on the leash by the time they kicked us out, less than an hour later.
Today is Wednesday, and while we have had a couple of minor incidents, I believe we already are getting a firm grasp of this whole “potty training” thing. The two dogs appear to be getting along very well and everyone loves the new puppy. I am happy, Lena is happy, and soon (within the next couple of weeks) I will be done with the illustration jobs I am working on and back to writing. Only now I’ll have an extra companion to keep me company while I do it.