Happiness is…

It’s a little bit like internet dating, nowadays: instead of going to the pound, you browse thumbnail photos online. Someone has written first-person blurbs that read like personal ads: “Hi! I’m two months old, with lots of energy. I like liver treats, tennis balls, and long walks in the park. How about you?!” Hundreds of little animals, all needing a home. Then you see The One, looking back at you from the computer screen, and you know before you even meet that you’ll be going home together.

Zelda was part of a litter of five abandoned puppies. A woman driving down a country road discovered some little boys abusing them, dragging them along with string tied around their necks. She scooped up all five, put them in the back seat, and drove to the nearest animal shelter. The folks at Animal Rescue sent the pups to stay with a “foster mom” until they could be placed. That woman, the owner of a rambling farm, had pale blue eyes and an endlessly patient demeanor. She sized us up to make sure we were good enough before she let us take the dog. We came prepared, with toys and a crate for the ride home. That was two weeks ago.

Initially I was terrified, not really being a dog person, and never having socialized a puppy (yes, grammar heads, “socialize” as a transitive verb). We got lucky, though: Zelda was already crate trained. She seldom barked. She seemed cheerful and undamaged by her early trauma. We bonded right away.

Getting a puppy is absolutely nothing like having a child, of course, though I imagine both have at least one thing in common: one day your life is about abstract complexities, contemplating Big Ideas; the next, it’s a cycle of feeding times and cleaning up poop. And you don’t even mind.

11 responses to “Happiness is…”

  1. Dave says:

    Oh my god she is so precious! Congratulations!

  2. What Dave said. Puppy!

  3. I am sort of a Kinsey 4.5 or so on the cat-person/dog-person spectrum but oh my god, so cute.

  4. Tim says:

    She’s a-dahr-able! I love her slightly quizzical look in the penultimate photo.

  5. jeremy says:

    This post is pretty timely for me. As Swells and Scotty have been in Europe for the last month, I’ve been watching their dog, Chimpy, which has been wonderful (there’s no way I’m ready to give her back yet, despite the fact that I miss my friends terribly and want them to come home already)… which has got me thinking about adopting a dog. It’s just that a.) I’ve been so used to being unfettered and b.) what if I get a mean dog? Anyway, Zelda is crazy-cute, straight out of a cute-puppy calendar.

  6. Rachel says:

    Chimpy!!! I like to think of you guys livin’ it up together, Jeremy.

  7. J-Man says:

    The cutest of hounds! What kind of dog is Zelda? Looks sort of retriever-ish, but… white?

  8. Rachel says:

    Good eye, J-Man. We were told she was a husky/lab mix, but are not really sure. Initially we thought she would get up to about 50 lbs., but the vet told us that, based on her current rate of growth, to expect 60-120 lbs. (!!!). I am sincerely hoping that it’s on the low end of those numbers, since I don’t think I could handle having a pet the size of a small adult.

  9. Ivy says:

    The trick with a big dog is to get them under control while they are still little. Kindly, gently, but firmly. it is so important! I have two little dogs, and if they are a pain, I can pick them up. But not a big one! In all the things I have seen/read on the subject, positive reinforcement of good behaviour (praise and treats) works best. One of mine is biddable (but younger and sillier), the other is more of a trial and needs work on confidence, to which he readily responds, despite being difficult.

    #5. A mean dog comes from mean people on the whole. Go for something with retriever in it for gentle though (gun dogs of any stripe, inc poodles, labs, often the clue is in the name) rather than any sort of terrier (even though terriers are great dogs, just more willful on the whole, and generally bred to hunt and kill, rather than hunt to retrieve).

    As with the poop, expense and other responsibilities, I’ve found I don’t mind the ties. Because the fur people love you!

  10. cleo maury says:

    yay rachel!
    zelda is adorable. congratulations!
    i hope that she grows and grows and grows.
    more of her to love.

  11. AWB says:

    She is so sweet!