He came into our lives like all our dog pack did…by accident and unplanned. Three years ago Mel was checking on the property next to ours. The owner had moved to warmer climes and we had promised to look after his place for him. It was a very cold December morning and as Mel walked around the old trailer house she heard whimpering coming from under the large add-on front porch.
Upon closer inspection she found this small, frail, and semi-frozen puppy, black and white in color and with the wiry body and long legs of an Italian greyhound. As she is prone to do, my dear wife went immediately into “mommy mode” and she gathered the poor creature up and wrapped him inside her heavy coat and brought him directly back home.
He was starving and she fed him then made him a warm bed next to the heater where he settled in thankfully.
“Now don’t get too comfortable, young man.” She told him with mock seriousness. “The final arbiter of your fate has not come home yet.”
He looked up at her with such a serious look on his little face, as if he could understand her every word; as if he knew this good fortune might not last, that she had to smile.
“Oh don’t worry.” She added. “He’s not nearly as mean as he might seem.”
And so it was that I arrived home late that night. Brushing snow from the shoulders of my coat and muttering about Missouri weather, I suddenly stopped as I spied this interloper in my home, snuggled down amid warm blankets in front of my heater like some little prince.
“What the…” I couldn’t finish…no use…I knew already. She had found another soul in need and I knew she was incapable of walking away….I knew this. Sigh!
The puppy stood up shyly and watched me intently as the other dogs rushed to greet me, all crowding and shoving to get in close and receive their allotted head pats and ear rubs. Booker, the unofficial favorite son, looked back over his shoulder at where the new puppy stood and then back at me. His ear were flattened and the hair on his back was raised…His way of saying: “Damn it dad, look what she brought home this time.” He clearly did not approve.
I resisted the urge to tell him that this is exactly the way he came to live with us. Sherman, our one hundred plus pound white lab was bouncing around, his massive tail wagging happily, his way of saying: “Oh look what momma brought home…a new friend, just for me! Can I play with him dad, can I, uh, can I??”
Mollie, our even larger and older black lab was giving the pup a baleful stare that clearly said: “If that thing gets close to me, I’m eating him!”
Into this room full of mixed messages and doggy chaos Mel arrived from the bedroom, serenely sure of herself as she glided up to my side and gave me a welcoming kiss. All the dogs fell silent as if they knew what was coming and why shouldn’t they, they had all seen it before, God knows.
“How was your day, sweetie?” Butter would have melted on those words, I swear.
Before I could answer she continued. “Oh and I see you’ve met our new arrival.”
I held up one hand. “Don’t say ‘arrival’ like he just got off the train from dogville.” I said crossly. “Where when and how did THAT happen.” I gestured in the general direction of the puppy who was beginning to shake. He could pick up the aggravation in my voice.
In her quiet, soft and reassuring voice she related to me how she had found the puppy and even though I was convinced she embellished the dog’s plight, I didn’t let my skepticism show as I listened.
When she had finished her story I turned and looked down at the pup sternly.
“Come here, dog.” I called to him and held out one hand. The pup walked slowly toward me, his tail tucked pitifully between his legs, his head lowered in submission. He stopped at my feet and waiting. I looked down at that sad excuse for a dog and then back up at my dear wife, my eyes relaying a message of their own: “Really?”
She returned my stare levelly, a small smile playing on her lips.
I reached down and slowly began to stroke the pup’s head and body. As I did this his tail curled back up, his head lifted and he stood straighter as the fear left him.
“If you are against the idea,” She said in that damn calm voice of hers. “I’ll take him into to town tomorrow and leave him at the pound.”
“The pound?” I retorted. “Oh you mean that place that kills the animal after a week if no one claims him…that pound?”
“Yes.” She has a terrible poker face…can’t bluff worth a damn.
“And in what universe do I possibly let that happen?” I said indignantly. “Oh but you KNEW that didn’t you.”
I was rewarded instantly with one of her radiant smiles and another kiss. “Well okay then!” She declared. “But now you have to name him since keeping him was YOUR idea.”
She hurried into the kitchen before I could argue the point and left me to stare down at the puppy who, by now had figured out in the way dogs do, that somehow everything was going to be alright and his tail was wagging a hundred miles an hour.
As I considered a name for the newest member of the family, I turned and absently walked away from him. Instantly he was by my side. He raised up on his rear legs and wrapped his front legs around my leg and wouldn’t let go. I tried to keep walking but he just hopped along beside me on his hind legs, with front legs tightly holding onto me.
I began to laugh.
“Hey honey.” I called to my wife, who was busy making dinner. “ I got a name for him.”
She stopped what she was doing and returned to the living room where she saw the pup attached to my leg. She laughed.
“Honey, meet Velcro.” I told her with a grin. “He seems to have the same sticking power as that material.”
“Well hello Velcro.” She told the puppy, who immediately turned loose of my leg and bounded over to her for another round of petting.
I shook my head in resignation and headed to the bathroom to wash up before dinner.
“Just remember,” I called over my shoulder. “We are just keeping him until we find a suitable home for him.”
That was three years ago and he’s still with us. No surprise there. And yeah, I should have named him Hollywood because he has grown into a perfect example of his breed…Italian Greyhound; aloof, finicky, more citified than any of his adopted brothers and sisters who are all ‘country folks’. He seems more suited for being carried around in the over large purse of some starlet and wearing one of those bling collars than tagging along with me to the barn.
I would change his name too, but why bother…after all, he’s going to find a suitable home soon and will be gone. Yeah, right, like that’s gonna happen!