umbrella aloft, the leash in my other hand-
I wanted my late-coming neighbor to understand
that dogs are worth the expense, inconvenience, and pain;
their tails are truthful, no coiled rebellion beneath a loving look; they are quick to kiss you, and quick
to fetch for you, and-should you raise a stick
threateningly-they are quick to show their teeth;
and better still (but this I never revealed),
when you bring downfall home, the death of a hope,
their nonchalant manner does more for you than a drink;
and best of all, when triumph's to be unsealed,
such lack of respect they show for the envelope,
-your fingers halt, the brain cools, and you think.
Dogs in Rumshinsky’s Hat and House of Buttons by Aaron Kramer
She was really my first ever dog. Sure I had childhood ones but they were family dogs; I couldn’t really claim ownership. I always had cats. Every size, shape, personality and color. One even got me kicked out of my dormitory in college. I was such a rebel.
The decision to get a dog was an easy one. I was working nights and home alone during the day with my developmentally delayed daughter. It was lonely, scary and I needed company. Her thrice weekly physical, occupational and speech therapists were often the only adult contact during the day. I looked into therapy dogs or near therapy dogs-the ones that don’t quite make the top tier- but the wait was at least three to four years. I am patient but not that patient.
I knew I wanted a Labrador. Their temperament and the short hair had a certain appeal. And I knew I couldn’t handle a puppy. Blessed be the various Labrador Rescue websites. I inquired about one dog, a “gentle giant” but he was already promised to another family. Weeks went by when another dog popped up. Her name not only described her coat color but also a popular "fireside alcoholic drink”. She apparently had puppies at one point and was found wandering the streets.
I quickly called the foster mother. She described that she was a sheer delight in the house with her other two larger male dogs but she was alpha to those beta males. That had a certain appeal. The boys always allowed her to eat first. She was a snuggler, gentle but protective of children. Also good with cats. But then she said the magic words “I’m going to miss her.”
I drove the 100 miles to “just see” under the pretense that I had a medical conference to attend. The minute I saw her and she me I knew she was the one. The whole love at first sight thing I guess. I should be so lucky with men. Her coming over to put her head on my lap sealed the deal. Her middle name became “Nana” like the dog in Peter Pan. I needed someone to watch over me.
We had eight and one half wonderful years together. I never doubted her intelligence or allegiance to my children or me. It hurt that my husband never petted her.
She trained our new puppy a year and a half ago. She had that motherly instinct. My puppy seems lost without her now and often wanders the house with a rawhide bone in her mouth looking for her fellow chewing companion. I wander around the house often in the same way.
I am a lost stray owner now. I go to lab adoption fairs but no one yet has picked me. Still looking for my next best labby friend. Her middle name too will be “Nana.”