Izzy came to us via rescue from the deep South, where high-kill shelters are more the norm than exception. Izzy was there before my big kid, she laid her sweet head on my lap comforting me while I cried through two miscarriages, and got her hyperdog tear on when we welcomed home our number two son. She was the best. The best. And there will never be another Izzy.
But there will be a Caleb.
Caleb?? It’s about the silliest name for a dog I’ve ever heard (apart from Wendy, which while a melancholy, dated name for humans, is apparently all the en vogue rage at dog shelters. Seriously. Check any dog rescue page and you’re 75%-80% likely to find an adoptable named Wendy. What the hell?). Sometimes your intentions don’t pan out as you’ve planned, and you wind up missing dinner as you wait, kids intermittently patiently, for an animal adoption counselor to pull your file. It was nearly a ninnercrommie last night, but I think we made the right call. PS–ninnercrommie is totally a word that you can Google and get two whole returns. Guess where?
Izzy bid us adieu last summer, and after a period of months, the boys began to inquire about not a replacement, but a pettable (is that a word?) companion to fill the void once the acute mourning had waned. Baseball season was just underway, and thank stars I excel at avoidance. I truly had no idea how time-demanding baseball would become, and it would have been unfair to any new dog to honor our baseball commitment and provide her the proper amount of time, care and love a new pet richly deserves. So we went into delay mode: Sure, kids, we’ll consider a new dog once school lets out, once MDA camp is over, once baseball season is done, once we’ve visited Uncle Sonny (my brother, and you’re correct if you assumed his name is not actually Sonny. Well it is to me, Tom and the kids). You get the theme. Wellllllllll, approximately five whole hours post-departure from Uncle Sonny’s place, whilst taking in a ball game (what??) at Busch Stadium, my little guy, truly like top of the third inning, goes, “OK, you said after we visited Uncle Sonny, we could get a dog. Can we? Is it time yet?” My personal delay of game comes to a screeching halt, because I am nothing if not a woman of my word. And a smart ass, but this is neither the time nor place to explore more deeply my snark.
We start combing our humane animal society’s webpage in search of the perfect female dog. We previously decided to rescue an adult dog instead of a puppy, so that narrowed the search from the get go. The dog that stands out most to us is a little something or other dog breed salad named Puma. Puma is the cutest damn thing you will ever see on four legs, and brings an interesting history with her. She’s two and diagnosed with hip dysplasia, so she’s actually the cutest damn thing you will ever see on three legs, because the dysplasia left her with a most unusual gait. My husband and I, separately and together, decided that a dog with a little something off-center about her body would be a really great match for our family. It probably sounds completely whack to anyone who isn’t my husband or me, but we wanted our son(s), but really just our son–you know the one–to have the experience of caring for a dog who, despite physical disability, was completely cool. I’m no martyr, but the idea felt so right.
Puma was kind of a jerk though. Upon entering the canine suites, there was a cacaphony of incessant barking, like nonstop please don’t let that be her, please don’t let that be her, please don’t let that be her yapping. I knew like I knew my name it was her. She was indeed the cutest dog in the house, but holy man, was she something! Sure she barked, but she also snarled and growled and got into each and every other dog’s face as the dogs paraded in and out with their volunteer walkers. The dogs as a group seemed temperament-wise surprisingly easy, but got completely jacked up by her anytime she piped up, which was often. She was so crabby. My eyes may have leaked–I knew she would require more than we were capable of providing her. I knew that this two day pipe dream of mine was not gonna happen. I could barely meet my husband’s gaze nor he mine, each of us certain we were simply unable to complete the mission we had intended. Even the boys were like, “Um, yeah, she’s kind of, not, like, I don’t know, you know. . .” Yeah, we know. *sigh*
But you can’t walk out of a shelter empty-handed. Well, you can, yes, you absolutely can. But I feel like you can tell where I’m going with this: we didn’t. I always felt like a female dog provided me some balance in our testosterone-heavy home. Stupid as it may sound, I liked having a girl, as if she could understand me in a way no one else around here can. Plus girl dogs don’t hump your leg, which, hello? HUGE bonus! Anyway, there were no females that spoke (howled?) to us, but there was this one super chill dude who was awfully cute. He had a penis, which would normally have put him on the do not call list, but. . . Well, we were there, and he was there, but he met absolutely not one criteria note that we were looking for, yet the next thing you know you’re selecting a new collar, and putting a dog named CALEB in your car, and now you have a dog named Caleb in your car. I feel confident that Caleb wasn’t his actual name, because “Caleb” didn’t look even the least bit remotely interested in responding to his “name” (yes, fakey quotes intended), but now the kids like his name. I still think he looks like a Frank. Maybe Larry a la Impractical Jokers. But no–the kids like Caleb. Oy. So I guess I am the proud owner of a boy dog, of only slightly less questionable lineage, very possibly named Caleb, a person name, most definitely not a dog name. Til now. His skillset thus far is confined to returning thrown balls–he KILLS–but I think he’s got tons of potential. He is OK and then some. Seriously–look at this face! He’s a good, good, good boy.
Sadly, or hopefully happily in the end for her, we couldn’t take home Puma. I’m hoping like crazy she finds her forever home soon. She is adorable and will be a perfect fit for someone, and I’m sad it’s not us. I didn’t get what I didn’t want (sorry, Puma, you’re a ninnercrommie), and I feel kinda sad over it, but I think we did get what I will want–a Caleb, a really great dog. My husband and the kids love him already, and so do I, even if he does make the count 4-1 here.