It’s A Dog!

I love having a dog.

For years, I whined about not having one. I imagined myself going on long walks to the park, taking a book and bit of kibble. Telling my secrets and plans to a pair of dark, soulful eyes who listened without judging.

I never knew it would be so good.

My sister Amy got us our little boy several years ago. Supposedly a Miniature GoldenDoodle. But he has grown to 60lbs and more depending on how much of a “Good Boy!” he’s been this week. She got him from a breeder near her and plans were made for us to travel to pick him up over the holiday break. Snowy weather forced the rescheduling, and rescheduling and rescheduling of the transfer until I started to worry her children might think the dog was their own.

But in due time, Kathie and I loaded up the car and headed off to Hannibal, Missouri, to pick him up. We were nervous. It had been years since either of us had a dog, and this would be the first time either of us would have a dog alone, without a parent or sibling on hand to offer up tips or suggestions. We drove off into the afternoon, wondering if we’d brought enough puppy pads, did we bring enough of that don’t-chew-here spray? How often do you think we should stop on the way back, for potty breaks? And food and water? How often should we look in on him to make sure he was okay? It was probably pretty scary back there in a big, empty, black end-of-the-Honda with nobody to talk to or play with and no way to communicate these important ideas. Who the Hell were we to be doing this, anyway?

Mark & Martin
Martin and Me. I don’t even notice I haven’t buttoned up my shirt, I’m so happy!

One thing we were sure of. We weren’t going to be one of those couples who referred to themselves as “Mom” and “Dad”. Ugggh!

We checked in. Amy was there with her kids and my Mom. So, this was it. What if he didn’t like me? What if we came all this way and he was afraid of me because I’m so Goddamned big? I should have shaved! Maybe wiped some cold cuts

on my face or something? Aw, shit, this was going to be awful. The door opened, Amy came in, a kid or two, and then our Mom, with a leash and then a little fuzzy face peeked around the corner, and Martin came in, too.

We hugged a little. I probably cried a little. He might have wet a little. We had fun. Amy tried to explain about his feeding schedule and what kinds of toys he liked to play with but I just kept pulling him away to look into that little face of his. I had a dog. I. Me. Finally. I had a dog! And look at him, too! He was terrific! He was the same color as one of my acoustic guitars, so we named him Martin.

Things settled down a little that night. And the next day, we got up brought him home with us. We stopped about every hour or so and checked up on him, calling him by name. And it didn’t take us an hour to start referring to each other as “Mom” and “Dad”. We pulled into a little rest stop about an hour from home and I filled up his dish with water, hooked up his leash and led him around the bushes and watched proudly while he peed. We made it all of the way home without having any mistakes in Kath—er, Mamma’s car.

That night, we moved everything and everyone inside the house and set up his puppy crate just outside the door to our bedroom. We could close the door if we needed privacy or anything (if he was too loud, we were figuring). But he would be right there, so he would know he had not been abandoned by us if he awoke in the night.

He whined a little, and we could hear him making little circles in the crate for a while, then he got quiet. Kathie and I were whispering to one another about being sure to check that low spot under the fence on the West side of the backyard…. We didn’t want him to dig his way out or anything. I sleep with one foot kind of exposed, out from under the covers, to regulate the heating or cooling needed. And as we were talking, I proudly announced, “Someone is licking my toes!”

My boy had figured out that if you apply a little outward pressure and a little upward pressure to the side of the crate, why that door just opens right up! He’d let himself out and had been quietly exploring his new surroundings for the last half-hour.

I don’t think I have ever been so proud.

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