Erin and I were sitting on the sofa the other night, all being the modern family, each with a laptop on our respective laps. Erin paused, looked up and said, "You know, I really love Amy's dog, Miner. That is a great dog." This is in reference to her recent trip to Iowa to visit her (our) sister Amy, and Miner is Amy's black lab. In what was likely a calculated move as part of a long-term strategy to convince me to get a dog, Erin then added, "I'd really like a dog someday."
Well, it turns out that a long-term propaganda strategy wasn't necessary. For some reason, Erin forgot that A) I love dogs and B) one of the reasons I've wanted to own our own house is because it would allow us to get a dog. The way I see it, we've had our own house for nearly a year, so we've been waiting a long damn time for a dog!
So I looked up from my computer and said, "Yeah, me too. Let's go get a dog." Erin took a long look at me, presumably to let this statement sink in and to give enough time for me to crack up laughing in case it was a cruel joke. But I didn't laugh, the statement sunk in, and we went from two laptops to one with the browser URL aimed at the Pasadena Animal Shelter. We also looked a the Southern California Labrador Retriever Rescue because we both love Labs.
We agreed that we didn't want a puppy, and instead would prefer a dog > 4 years old that is calm, already trained and housebroken, and good with kids. Pit Bulls, chihuahuas and great Danes were out. A lab or a lab mix would be preferred.
We arrived at the shelter, took a number (a buzzer) and started looking around. Several dogs caught our eye, including a super-sweet 8-year-old German Shepherd, a 2-year-old boxer (that was really probably 10 months old), several lab mixes and a large-but-not-huge Dane mix named Luna. We first "interviewed" a lab mix named Handsome. He was great with kids, but strong. Like, Super-Mutt strong. Rip-your-arm-off strong. He was also shedding like mad. Next we met the way-too-young boxer. He was beautiful, but when we saw him leap over a bench to sniff something on the other side, rather than walking around it, we knew he was too rambunctious for us. A flying Owen and a delicate-flower-Mar is plenty to keep our hands full without chasing down a speeding Boxer after he digs under our hedge.
Our last interview was with a Lab-Greyhound mix named Wally. Wally was the only dog not barking in his cage when other dogs walked by, and when I went with the keeper to walk him back to the "socialization area," he barely tugged on the leash, despite being surrounded by his barking neighbors.
When Wally got into the socialization area, he wandered around sniffing stuff, but walked around obstacles rather than leaping them in a single bound. His fur was short and glossy, with minimal shedding. His mannerisms were purposeful yet calm. Marcus grabbed his ear and he didn't even flinch. The keeper let us grab his tail and he didn't mind. Owen decided to leap off of the bench and landed right by Wally's head. I flinched, but Wally did not. Wally gave a strong interview.
I'll let Erin take it from here:
We had some "family"discussions with the kids about how we wanted to find a dog that everyone liked, and one who would do things our family enjoyed - outdoor adventures, jogging with mommy & playing with us in the yard. After a lot of window-shopping at the various kennels, Owen said with much concern, "I don't really know if I want a dog. They're cute, but they poop all over our yard". It was tough to hold back the chuckles, but talk of a special poop-scooping device swayed him back to the dog-side.
We shared our concerns & enthusiasm with the shelter staff as we discussed making Wally a member of our family. While at the pound, the boys seemed a bit indifferent about the idea of a dog in our house, the moment I walked in with Wally, Owen's face lit up and jaw dropped to his lap.
What followed was a full-family exploration of our space through Wally's eyes, some experimenting with placement of his bed & lots of fetch in the yard. It won't be long before he's catching frisbees! He's got some pretty good manners, recognizes us (John & me) as the alphas, and is fitting right into the family. To our delight, Marcus says his name beautifully, and even held Monkey out to give Wally a welcome home kiss.
(The crazy-person voice is actually John using his doggie-talk voice. Well, okay, perhaps there isn't a difference.)