I have never tried to eulogize a dog before. Thankfully, it’s because I don’t know any dead ones. I know a few whom I wish had never been born, and a few who lived way too long. Ultra-thankfully, I’ve never had to attend a dog’s funeral and been asked to say a few words. But a couple of days ago, we had to make that sad decision to have our dog put to sleep. Bailey was a good dog.
I am the kind of dog owner who thoroughly disgusts people who consider themselves to be dog lovers. And both types of us really piss off cat owners, but that’s a different post altogether. People who are dog lovers let their dogs eat off of their plates at the end of the meal, or let the dogs sit on the furniture or in the front seat of the car. I’m not that kind of dog owner. Maybe I’m more of a dog tolerater.
I will always believe that a dog is a pet, kind of like a goldfish but a whole lot sturdier and less likely to die if you look at it funny. It isn’t quite as noisy as a parakeet; I know, because I’ve had one of those. Actually, two of those, and I released one into the wild after it pecked its cage-mate to death in a horrible parakeet version of cockfighting, only I wasn’t involved in the scheme and I didn’t make any money on the outcome. I still think the green one took a dive.
I’m not the kind of pet owner who thinks the dog is a family member, but unfortunately everyone else in my family is, including the new dog we adopted yesterday. He rode in my lap on the way home from the Rescue, pranced through our house giving it a once-over like a realtor in a bad market, and plopped his oversized carcass on the couch, head on paws facing the television and waiting for a human to work the remote for him.
You’re prepared for the tales of woe about how this mangy-ish animal has wreaked havoc on my otherwise calm life. You’re breathlessly waiting for Marley-and-Me-esque tales of torn curtains and stained carpets, overturned indoor ficus trees in his wake. I’m terribly sorry to disappoint, but I’m addicted to this reserved and affectionate older dog.
Rescued animals are always the best dogs and this poodle is no exception. My husband, however, was a hard sell at the start. His exact words were, “Are you sure poodles come in male?” I must have looked horribly unnerved and confused, because he clarified: “I mean, aren’t poodles girls?” I patiently and quietly asked him to tell me where he thought more poodles came from if all poodles were girls, and he didn’t really have a response. Where our own children came from is still kind of a mystery to him. I assured him the dog was both a boy and a poodle. Call it a genetic anomoly, if you must.
Here is where I have declared my husband to be Father of the Year 2010, a dubious title since it was bestowed upon him with only three days left in the calendar year. The adoption fee was…$150. I mouthed the number at him while the attendant’s back was turned in order to avoid any embarrassment. I then mouthed, “It’s your call.” I also mouthed something to the effect of, “No one would blame you for not wanting to spend that kind of money on a mixed breed animal that has had a lot of health problems and a history of neglect and possibly abuse,” but just like when I actually speak out loud, my husband stopped listening after the third word. He looked down to where our oldest daughter was sitting cross-legged on the floor with the expensive animal in her lap, asked her if she was sure she wanted that one, and then reluctantly agreed to the fee. I fell in love all over again with the man who would do anything for his children.
And we have therefore adopted Jake from the Poodle Rescue. There is less paperwork involved in crossing a border into a Communist country. We had to supply the names and phone numbers of our vet, our groomer, and three references, and were sternly warned that the numbers would be checked out. We were also given a couple days’ supply of Jake’s organic canned dog food, to be mixed with some of the provided organic dry dog food, which is all mashed together with rice cooked in chicken broth, broth which has been provided by the whole chicken we’re supposed to boil and feed him tidbit-by-tidbit. We signed a contract, agreed to a surprise inspection in our home, and led our new dog to the car on his brand-new leash, being sure to give him ample time to say goodbye to his fellow dogs at the Rescue and letting him choose to walk to the car rather than being carried off against his will.
I only wish it were so difficult to get a child. People have long argued that the driver’s license exam is harder than producing a baby to care for, and they’re right. Only most babies don’t eat organic food from the start.
Rest in peace, Bailey. Welcome to our home, Jake.