Thursday, September 12, 2002

A yellow dog came to live with us a few weeks ago. No, not a Democrat, thank God. A real dog. Not really yellow, actually. Sort of off white.

It was all unplanned. My wife's sister had a dachshund which she doted on for 17 years. When the superannuated beast finally departed for whatever celestial reward dogs go to, she was devastated. Blinded by grief, she sought a replacement from the nearest breeder and secured a Labrador Retriever. The union lasted mere hours. Later that evening she contacted her husband at his favorite watering hole and in a rare moment of lucidity he realized that a Lab had potential to rapidly outgrow their tiny urban prison. The very next day we were offered ownership of a pedigreed dog.

Now, I'm a big proponent of pet ownership. As a kid we always had a dog and a cat. But the origins were different. My first dog experience was with a Husky that had flunked out of Air Force guard dog training. My parents brought him back with them from Alaska before I was born. I have vague memories of him. Our next dog was a mixed German Shepherd that was rescued from death row at the pound. Dog number three was given to me by a guy at a sawmill who was going to drown him if he couldn't find a taker and dog number four, once again, came from death row.

This dog has papers. She has a family tree going back five generations. I'm not even certain that I have a family tree going back that far. This is wild stuff for somone who never paid a dime for a dog. She has parents, grandparents and great-grandparents with names. Wild stuff. Like Snookims of Upturned Nose and Pammie's Fudgie-poo.

Now, to be honest, if I had a name like Pammie's Fudgie-poo I suspect I might not even like girl dogs. But even if I could suffer a name like that and still be straight, I certainly couldn't get it up for some bitch named Snookims of Upturned Nose.

So what stupid name did you give her then, you ask. Well. She was Surprise for a few days, since that's what she was. Then I thought of Dog. I like that. Dog. Well, that's not going to work, so I thought of names for a while. Nothing seemed to fit until I was looking at the sky one day as I drove home (I know; watch the road, you idiot) and Zephyr popped into my head. It was a perfect name for a 35 pound whirlwind. But no "pedigreed" names. I thought of a few, like Zephyr of Lost Hope or Zephyr of Unrealized Promise, but decided against that. Just invites questions.

She's a tiny nuclear device. Everything she does, she does at 90 miles per hour. I haven't even begun to try and housebreak her, because every time I let her into the house she tears around, grabbing any loose item she can. Her tenure in the house rarely exceeds a few minutes before I'm instructed to turn her back outside. Oddly, I can walk her until her tongue lolls out and drags on the ground, yet if she is let inside following that she finds a reserve of energy. No plans to breed her. In fact, she's headed for the knife in the next week. Elsewise she'll begin undergoing female cycles very shortly. I already have two women in this house. Don't need any more of that.

Not long ago she ate an entire bird feeder. I live in Maryland and have a young son who is a baseball fan, so it's inevitable that I should have a plastic Oriole feeder. She ate it. Maybe I should sell her to the circus as a sideshow freak.

Incredibly, she's finding a home here. It was rocky at first. My wife, who is actually more intelligent than I am but lacks a certain breadth of experience, was at first appalled to realize that dogs produce saliva. Not to mention that she can consume AND defecate her own body weight each day (the dog). Daughter remains apprehensive, but she's getting better with each day. The boy has fallen head over heels for her. They actually go out and wrestle each evening, which both enjoy immensely. In a very big way she is still my dog, since I have been the one who has spent time with her and taken her for all of her walks, but as the kids begin to lose their fear of her, play and wrestle with her, she responds more and more to them.

Unexpected she was, part of the family she has become. Soon I'll be taking her up to the cabin. I imagine I'll have a whole 'nother page to record after that.

Well, 'till the next time.

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