Where it all began: Not a Little Dog Person

August, 2010
I have never been a little dog person.  I was a cat person as a kid, a kid person as a young mom, and then became a dog person when my youngest son fell in love with dogs.  Big dogs, though.  Labradors: sturdy, indestructible, REAL dogs.  When my dog-loving son, Zack, was five, my husband and I caved.   We loaded up the family suburban, complete with our nine year old daughter, Alex, and our seven year old son, Nick, and went to the 'country' to pick us out a Labrador.  Yellow labs; it doesn't get much more American than that.  It's the natural order of things, I suppose.  You start a family, get a mortgage, add another child or two, then a yellow lab.  Kid and photo friendly.  That was Jack.

After you've had a single dog, though, you start to feel as if they're missing some fellow canine companionship.  A friend they can relate to.  A new puppy.  Of course, the idea of a new puppy is like wanting another baby only after the memory of pregnancy and childbirth have evaporated to wisps of idyllic memories.   It started with cruising different breeder's websites to look for the newest litters of the dog du jour, Chocolate Labradors.  After all, brown was the new black in 2007.  The online links to puppy photos I emailed my husband were met with instant message conversations such as:

Heathergirl: check out http://www.retrievers.com/ 
Heathergirl: they have puppies coming in November!!
Kenman:  nice.
Heathergirl: that would be in time for the holidays
Kenman: and for the rain
Heathergirl: did you see the chocolate ones from the last litter??  I think brown goes really well with blond.
Heathergirl:  Jack could use a friend.  We're so busy with homeschool, we hardly pay any attention to him in the mornings.
Kenman: and you'll  have time for the new puppy when?
Heathergirl: DID YOU SEE THE PICTURES?!?!?
Kenman: we'll see

That was Indy.  We were off and running.

Fast forward three years and we now have a teenage daughter; two boys 11 & 9; Haystack Surfin' Jack (now 4 - er, in his late canine twenties); and Dr. Oceana Indiana Bones or Indy for short (now a prematurely greying almost legal drinking age 'pup').

Everybody's happy; everyone's content.  Then one weekend, I get a call from my mom, who was watching my kids.  A little dog has 'found' them.  It just jumped in the pool and started happily swimming around with the kids.  Ah.  Well, that's nice, but we're REALLY not little dog people - it can just go on it's way.  "She's really skinny - we think she's just a puppy", my mom says.  "Just be prepared not to get too attached."  Somewhere in the background my dad hollers, "You're not keeping it!"  Duh.  We have two dogs.  Two REAL dogs, remember?  Dogs who would never yap or spaz out, and certainly wouldn't fit in your handbag!   My husband and I pull up the drive and our daughter comes running out to meet us.  She and a drippy, shiver-ry little dog.  You know those little shaky dogs - God bless the people who love them, but they're definitely not for us. 

A few plates of rice and chicken later, and the little dog wasn't so shaky.  She was calm and other than an initial fearful barrage of yaps at Jack and Indy when she first met them, she's a pretty mellow dog.  She warmed to the big dogs, rolling on her back to show submission, and ran with them as they chased after tennis balls.  They didn't seem to mind her much either, seemingly as sorry for her as the rest of us. 

Her ears were beyond dirty.  Her bony body was peppered with bug bites - but no sign of fleas or ticks.  She was really out in the middle of nowhere, with no signs of previous ownership.  If left to her own devices, she'd be an unsatisfying snack at best to the coyotes roaming in the not-so-distant hills.   We were 150 miles from our home, and morally stranded.  We decided on making a run to the local PetSmart.  We would get ear cleaner, puppy flea shampoo, a collar, leash and kennel for travel.  We could at least care for her until we could find her a good home.  After all, there are a lot of people out there who don't mind little dogs.  She would be our foster dog, you could say. 

As we headed into PetSmart, I warned my kids, "We don't have a lot of money to spend on her.  We need to remember this is only a temporary situation."  Immediately upon entering the store, there is a large poster of beautiful, smiling Martha Stewart, holding her beautiful (smiling?) dog and announcing her new line of designer pet accessories.   My daughter is inhaling quickly the way teenagers do right before they rattle off their reasons for wanting something.  I cut her off before she can even start, "NO.  Think inexpensive.  Temporary situation, remember?"  Inside, though, the thought of cute little dog things was secretly exciting.  What was happening to me?  The love of shopping must be clouding my better judgment. 

We arrived at the collars and leashes isle.  I wistfully passed the adorable Martha Stewart collection, and even the cute pink and brown store brand collars, holding true to my own directive: we must find a good bargain.  I turned around and found a very plain, but still very sweet pink collar in the clearance section.  Actually, there were about fifteen sweet little pink collars on clearance.  97 cents!  That's what I'm talking about!  My daughter found a thin pink leash for $8, and I tried to turn our bargain hunt into a game.  I told the boys that Alex had found one for $8 - could they find one for less??  Leave no price tag unchecked!  Sure enough, on the far side of the isle were seven or eight thin pink leashes on clearance for less than $2.  When my daughter told my husband she said, "See Daddy, it was meant to be!"  He grunted a flat, "Great."

It has been a week and a half now, and although we are still technically looking for a home for Lucinda(Lucy for short), we have become rather attached.  She has a plump little puppy tummy now, her skin has healed and her coat is thicker, with a healthy sheen.  She has fit right in to the family... even 'fetching' with the big dogs.  Somewhere in the distance, if you listen real hard, you can hear my dad calling, "You're not keeping it, right?" 

Lucy and Indy
First day

Lucy, day 10