We had a little Chihuahua and some cats and I had no intention – None – of taking on another dog. Ever. Taking on the responsibility of a dog is huge. I know this. So I had no intention of ever doing it again. I had been looking forward to the peace and quiet of a house without teenagers, a house to nest in and write to my heart’s content. I was determined to get all those novels I had in my head on paper, maybe finish some illustration and picture book projects.
Around that time I got an email from my daughter. She was a student at Texas Tech in Lubbock. The subject line read “Look at my new puppy!” The pictures showed an adorable black, tan, and white hound with humongous feet. I emailed back and said, “No, you can’t keep a puppy. It’s going to be huge! There’s no room in your apartment. Take it back. Get rid of it!”
At around that moment, my husband called her just to say hello. I overheard him say, “Why are you sounding so sad?” Then I heard, “I never said you couldn’t have a puppy.”
When the hound was 4 months and 45 pounds her roommates rebelled. She brought him home over Easter break and said, “Could you keep him for me?” I said, “Is he house trained?” She said, “Not very well. But he has a crate.” (Because everyone knows that a dog crate makes everything better?) I said, “Thanks.” Though that word was said sarcastically. Mom had a dog, and not just any dog, but a growing, floppy-eared, clumsy, drooling, smelly dog.
Writing, you say? Writing? When I would sit down at the computer and had the right words, before I could get them down, the mutt had to go out. And that means desperately for a puppy because a puppy that size holds a lot of pee. Or I was in the middle of a break-through paragraph and before I could get it into words, the hound would leap off the ground with a tremendous barking that wouldn’t stop until I put him out. My nerves were a little jittery at that point. Oh, yeah, writing wasn’t going so smoothly either.
Then there was the time I came home to find the mutt surrounded by the couch cushions. He’d chewed a hole completely through one of the seat cushions. Not even turning it could hide that one. It was a “Marley” moment.
In between lots of life-changing things: my parent’s illnesses and deaths, the daughter coming to live with us, the joyous birth of our grand girl, three house renovations and three moves, and lots of shuffling of other family members, the writing and the dog are still here. He isn’t a puppy anymore. He is a big dog at nearly 80 pounds. He sheds constantly and copiously, so when I sweep the wood floors of our vintage house I feel like I’m gathering up small puppies with my broom.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll survive his goofiness. One day as I was walking him he saw a…you guessed it…a squirrel. On. The. Ground. Yes. And I didn’t see it so wasn’t prepared. I landed on my stomach about four feet from where I had been standing. When I landed I let go of the leash so he didn’t sled me to the light pole where he ended up barking his silly head off. And this evening when I went to give him his “treat” and it was dark in the kitchen and I lowered my hand at the same time that he snapped. I do still have my thumb. It’s just a little numb.
And the times my husband has barefoot-slipped in his drool (because he feeds him the end piece of his peanut butter sandwich every evening, this one shouldn’t even be in the mix.)
But wherever we’ve lived whether near downtown or even out in the wilds of Sugar Land, if our gorgeous mutt sees a stranger, he becomes Mr. Seriously scary-bark-growl-snapping-dog. And therefore his value surpasses all the gutted couches and buckets of doggie-throw-up there have been. Do I have an amen to that? Amen.