Love Is A Crazy Thing

I swear, it’s not our fault. We actually lasted five weeks without a dog. Meanwhile, I admit I did notice that, dogless, the house remained clean longer than fifteen minutes after being vacuumed and a leaf could blow across the front lawn without our being urgently warned that ISIS was invading the neighborhood, but, you know, we’re just dog people. In the meantime, our loving helpful daughter, who knew the inevitable next step, was secretly searching on our behalf–until she found the perfect, calm,  laid back, already house trained Aussie doodle puppy (exactly what we were looking for!) in foster care. She sent me pictures, and I got really excited–until she adopted him herself, and now claims that as a good mother, I should be extra joyful because the puppy has made her, her husband and kids and even their elderly Lab soooo happy.

“Oh yes, honey, I’m truly thrilled.” (My high school drama club stint with those acting tips from the teacher comes in pretty handy sometimes.)

So, as was inevitable, we started haunting the SPCA and Humane Society shelters in the tristate area and spent a ridiculous number of hours online trying to find a dog like the one our daughter had snatched up. There weren’t any.

On October 13th, we finally said, “This is it, we’re going up to the best shelter in the area and we’re just going to meet dogs until we find the right one.” We’d already filled out a lengthy required application (there and at seven other shelters, we’re nothing if not thorough) and been told we were approved to come, so we drove up. Staff carefully asked us what we were looking for so they could bring us candidates that they thought would work best. Well, we’d learned with Scout that a 65 pound dog sick or injured is too heavy for us if regular lifting is required. So we started with “Medium sized, like 25-40 pounds. We’d like a young dog, but not a baby.”  Then we got to the heart of it: “Calm, laid back. Easy going, not hyper. Relaxed. Quiet. Not a barker.” (We went like that until we ran out of adjectives. Notice a theme here?)

Apparently, the kindly staff heard what we said, but believed we were giving off vibes that said, “We’d like to take home a puppy under a year old that is as batshit crazy for attention as any dog you’ve ever seen. Preferably one that likes to dig compulsively so we could see what our large fenced back yard would look like with a muddy rain pond in the middle. And one that will jump on us with a invitation to wrestle if we sit down! Oh, and definitely one with an obsessively expressed vendetta against squirrels. We can handle it!”

The staff never considered the possibility that those vibes were pathological liars.

Meet Cassidy, aka “Cassie,” our new family member. She’s about a year old (vet said she was under a year when we got her in October, abandoned near the shelter in early August), a Lab/beagle cross, the shelter’s vet also said. She wasn’t spayed and was malnourished and terrified when the shelter took her in. It had taken until October to get her weight normal, ready for adoption.

As soon as the shelter person brought her into the meeting room, she came straight to us, tail wagging asking for affection. We fell in love. She had us at hello.

When you adopt a shelter dog, you definitely have challenges. Cassidy had shelter trauma plus whatever fears she brought in with her from before the shelter. We’ve been working with a trainer for the past month, and she’s come so far in the two months we’ve had her. She knows sit, come, down, stay, “go to place” (a special mat), loose leash walking and (sort of) “leave it”. We have her happily crate trained and her house training is perfect. My husband uses a thirty foot line to let her run and sniff on long walks in the natural areas with river, forest, and open fields near us. She runs free and fetches ball relentlessly out in the yard. Still, often in the late afternoon when we’re done working for the day and we want to relax, we’d swear she has a psychotic break as she races around the house, using one of us as a trampoline for quick pivots. And yes, she’s already been exercised to the point of exhaustion. (Ours, anyway.)

Cassie’s is also trying to eat the house. I’m sort of serious. Rugs, her beds, any stuffed toy, my husband’s shoes (I don’t leave mine out), his socks (I don’t leave my out)–You get the pattern here, so I can stop, right? After she unstuffed three perfectly lovely dog beds and scattered the plush lining throughout the house (so enjoyable to clean up) we cashed in some of our 401K to purchase a “guaranteed indestructible dog bed impervious to the toughest chewer.” Ha. Haha. Hahahaha. Cassie laughed so hard she nearly choked as she tore the first hole.

Our daughter thinks this is all hilarious. She says their new puppy is the laziest, calmest puppy ever. Chews up absolutely nothing, doesn’t dig, etc. (See a pattern here?) Sounds so nice. But we saw Cassidy, she bonded with us and we with her, we named her, and we brought her home. We’re experienced dog people and we had no idea what we were doing. Love is a crazy thing.

In the midst of all craziness–including the craziness of too much buying, too much stuff vs. too little stuff, food, and rest for too many who are burdened with too much worry, grief and pain–I do want to carve out a quiet moment (Cassie’s in another room eating a rug so I can) to say that I hope that those of you who celebrated Hanukkah had special moments of loveliness and beauty, and that those of you who celebrate Christmas will, too, in the coming days. If you celebrate is Kwanzaa, or the solstice and return of the light, or any other tradition this time of year, I wish you the same, light and peace.

Please feel free to add your remembered new puppy or kitten stories, or whatever’s on your mind as a comment. I read and respond here to every one. And thank you!

30 Responses to Love Is A Crazy Thing

  1. I couldn’t be happier for the three of you. And happy all of us who can feel your happiness ourselves when you share it so eloquently with us. You’re aways a wonderful writer, Lynne, but whenever the subject is a dog . . . Well, suffice it to say you really rise to the occasion. Oh, and speaking of “Love is a crazy thing.” If I ever break down and put myself out there on a dating site, would you mind if I describe myself thusly: “Calm, laid back. Easy going, not hyper. Relaxed. Quiet. Not a barker.” (We writers must respect each other’s intellectual property, more than ever now that AI is upon us.)

    • Preston! You have my full approval to use those words to describe yourself on a dating site–in fact I totally hope you do! Thanks for a great comment!

  2. I adore this essay; I could eat it with a spoon and call it the best dessert ever. Somehow, you (here and in every book you write) make this no-thank-you-to-having-a-dog person perfectly understand the desire and even envy it a bit.

    • Randy, I’m counting your words among those of highest praise I’ve ever received! So glad you enjoyed it!! Thank you!

  3. Rescues are tough but their loyalty and love is unmatched! We rescued our dog, Bear, almost 7 years ago and he was a lot like Cassie is now. Chewed on everything, was scared of almost everything, and was overall very difficult. We did all the training, and it took about a year and a half but we broke the bad habits and now he is a dream. The hard work pays off!

    • Well, this is a really good thing to be reminded of…as long as the house remains standing for a year and a half, then there’s hope, right? Thank you so much for the memory of Bear and how he was vs. how he turned out! Because he IS one wonderful dog.

  4. I think she is really a dag not dog (dollars are gone)-as you once again invest in new upholstery, dog beds, shoes, socks etc. But she sure is a snuggler…so who needs money?

    • “Invest in new everything as she destroys it,” says Barb, the woman with the world’s calmest dog (well, second calmest after my daughter’s) who’s never destroyed a single thing!

  5. Congratulations!
    I remember when we brought Patch home they put her in Di’s arms and she just hugged her. Then we went through the breaking in stage, pee pads were toys to be thrown around instead of their main purpose and my lap was her day bed (making me use my chest for my laptop in order to work).
    Cassie is so cute and we hope you have a long and happy life with her!

    • Oh, how kind of you, Mike and Di, and what a lovely surprise to hear from you. I love the image of Patch using pee pads as throw toys and you having to use your chest as a laptop desk because she was sleeping on your lap. Thank you so much for your good wishes! I’m grateful.

  6. Good Morning Lynne,
    I read this aloud to Greg and we both laughed hysterically at your descriptions of Cassie! She is just the “perfect” dog for you and Al, huh? Love you both!

    • Hmmm. I used the word “perfect,” did I? Well, she is the perfect size! (Unfortunately, I can picture the two of you laughing…)

  7. Lynne, when you arrive for the reunion please note the chewed ends of two of the kitchen cabinetes that my “Teddy”(rescue Shepard/collie/retriever)left as a lasting memorial of her first year here from 4months to 16 months. She now is content to test the survivability of her other 50 + bones, squirrels, assorted animal types that pile up in a corner of the family room. Now four she is a sweet heart who jumps on the bed and licks me awake between 6:30-7am every day. There is nothing like a dog, we even had one on our tank in Viet Nam. Your dog stories are fabulous.

    • Thank you so much, Sperry! Your Teddy, like Ciera’s Bear, gives me survival hope–for the furniture, at least! You’re right–nothing can replace loving and being loved by a dog. It’s a special dimension of life for certain people who can’t do without them.

  8. Once I finished laughing I had a few thoughts about this unanticipated life change. First, I think you would be bored out of your skull if you got the dog you described. No excitement, no spontaneous laughter.
    I’, not sure that vibes are allowed lie, pathologically, or otherwise. It is more likely that it wasn’t your vibes the staff was paying attention to, perhaps Cassie was putting out those vibes.
    When we go out to spend money to acquire some goods or services we believe that we are the customer, the most important being in the transaction, most of the time we are correct. What if the shelter staff doesn’t quite see t that way? What if they consider the animals in their care to be their primary clients? From that point of view you and Alan are perfect for Cassie. You can provide a loving home, you are experienced dog people, you don’t have other pets or a bunch of small children running around, and you have a large fenced in yard. Also , being retired or semi-retired you are not likely to be leaving her home alone for long periods of time.
    Yes, love is crazy, and because of that Cassie has the perfect forever home and family for her.
    As for your daughter, I think Cassie needs to accompany you to her house for the holidays. I think it would be wonderful if you learn how to trigger Cassie’s zoomies and do so at random times while you are there.

    • Ah, Cindy! the catch is in those mistaken words “retired or semi-retired.” Not exactly. Trying to work full-time quietly, in my office, while Cassie is literally bouncing off the walls or eating the drywall is, um, not as easy as you might think. But I’m sure you’re right that what the shelter cares about first is the dog–as they definitely should. And as for bringing Cassie to our daughter’s for the holidays, great idea except for their two dogs, plus two kids, a total of six adults who’ll be there plus the new baby. And guess who would be following Cassie around cleaning up the remains of their furniture?

  9. Lynne, this blog is totally hilarious! I’ve had the best laughs (even on second and third readings) that I have had in a long time. I’m sure Cassie will turn out to be a wonderful dog.

    • So glad this got you laughing, Gale! And I’m hearing from others that the house and we are possibly going to survive (consider the possibility that they are pathological liars, however…) so we are hanging on. Not claiming that it’s pretty, however.

  10. Now that I have spent a good part of the afternoon forwarding your blog to almost everyone i know, I can tell you how much I love this. Your own version of Marley & Me. Yes, I feel your pain but I’m laughing too hard to notice. My friend Michele, who is a dog trainer, recently adopted a dog that had been returned to the shelter 2 or 3 times. On the first day, the dog jumped from the floor to the kitchen counter. One leap from a stand still. Another time, when she had guests, her dog jumped onto the dining table, right in the middle, all four paws. It could be worse (?)

    All I can say is that she’s adorable, you’re adorable, and you’re a brilliant writer. Better than David Sedaris. This is a classic.

    • Okay, Debra. Many thanks, as always. It was a stupid move, but I let Cassie read your note–you know, along with a stern warning: “Don’t even think about trying this!” but she’s taking it as a challenge! And now she’s eyeing the dining room table–I think she just fetched the yard stick from the closet–to calculate how to duplicate that leap. She muttering about how bad it would be to embarrass herself by a failure to land four square. She’s requesting a video from Michele’s dog as 1) evidence of actual performance and 2) model of proper technique. Basically, I think Cassie’s just extremely annoyed that another dog pulled these two excellent moves off before she did. I fear she will shortly be upping the ante.

  11. Another fun read, Lynne! I’m happy you have a new pup to love because dogs are so much better than most people! Their unconditional love for their humans is unmatched!
    Reading this I was reminded of the summer my brother Jay brought his fraternity mascot home from the University of Miami. The dog’s name was “Damnit” and was quite appropriate as he loved to eat flat surfaces – carpet, bedspreads, linoleum! My mom wasn’t one to swear normally, but she shouted “Damnit” a lot that summer!

    • Audrey, I’m so glad you enjoyed this. Believe me, I can relate to your Mother’s response–Cassie also loves carpet, bedspreads, etc. She hasn’t gone for hard flooring yet; she’s a little picky in that she prefers all fabric. Like upholstery, you know. And the more expensive the better. Example: socks are good. Small cheap rugs better. Canvas sneakers better. Large area rugs better. Upholstered recliner, best of all. See how this works? Very discerning taste.

  12. Oh my! Cassie is definitely keeping you and Alan busy. Bet you’re not laughing as much as your readers! But puppyhood does pass.
    Thanks for sharing your adventures. She sounds like a great dog and I’m so happy that you found her, and she found you. She is one lucky shelter dog!
    Love to you and head rubs to Cassie, Suz

    • Well, Susan…one thing is going to pass for sure–either puppyhood or my sanity. Not sure which one! 🙂 But yes, we don’t lack for excitement or adventure, that’s for sure.

  13. Just substitute Stuart and Simon for Cassie and you have described our little guys perfectly – except on a smaller scale. They are brothers, Chihuahua-Terrier (and other stuff) mix and both under 12 pounds. After years of caring for the aging Pug we desperately didn’t want to let go, we were finally able to face getting a new dog. Except Stuart had a brother who they told us was “timid” – they lied. I can so relate to my chest being a launching pad. Over the couch back, jump off me and this chair, skid around, chew chew chew including woodwork and corners, passed their training classes with flying colors but that was just showing off, know all about potty training but also selectively follow those rules, too. But it was love at first sight just looking at Stuart’s picture and when we were told there was a brother who would miss him we were done. (Wendy from the adoption agency insisted she only told us about Simon as an alternate choice, not trying to get us to take 2 puppies. Hahaha. Her plan worked.) Yes, little dogs and Chihuahuas in particular are those nervous, noisy dogs we always vowed to avoid. Can’t imagine life without them now, though. Minnie the Cat would disagree.
    Happy Holidays.

    • Oh, Sally, I can definitely relate! The chewing!! And absolutely the insane necessity to chew on anything and everything but an approved chew toy, right? Minnie the cat must think you totally lost your mind and Wendy at the agency probably got a promotion! But I understand: you adore both Stuart and Simon and always will, even as the foundations of your house are slowly destroyed and the house begins to crumble and fall around you! I get it. Thanks for sharing.

  14. My dog story. I had a beautiful Rotweiller named Grendel (yes, after the mythical monster), who I loved dearly. Grendel did her best to live up to her name.

    Many years ago, I took her to my very large, very formal Christmas family gathering and dinner in Ipswich. Being a Velco mommy, I insisted on taking her everywhere.

    My eldest sibling prepared the feast to feed the 20 or so relatives gathered there. The main course centered around a 25lb turkey. Cocktails were being served in the living room as the turkey lay beautifully displayed on the sideboard, surrounded by sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, dinner rolls, roasted vegetables, etc. All this contained in my mother’s very special irreplaceable family heirloom dinnerware and serving dishes. I think you know where this is going…

    In the middle of laughter and family gossip over martinis and champagne, we were startled by a large bang and then a loud crash coming from the dining room. Grendel had managed not only to knock everything onto the floor shattering all the pieces, but she stole the total turkey and ran off with it to parts unknown.

    That was the worst dinner ever and the best holiday story from my past. Well, then there is the one about my very conservative, very proper aunt who, at 90, started stealing ashtrays from the house…and she didn’t even smoke. But that is a tale for another time.

    In my next life, I will be born as your dog, and I promise I won’t eat the furniture. Well, maybe just a little bit here and there.

    A very Merry Christmas to you, Lynne & Alan, your family, and friends. Love, Elizabeth

    • Elizabeth, this is hysterically funny! although I’m sure it was a nightmare at the time. I’m dying to know: did Grendel make it out of the house with the turkey? or did she hole up in some darkish corner inside and hide while she tore it apart and reveled in her own wits that she scored so successfully? What did the humans do for dinner? Turkey snatching is, of course, exactly what Cassie would have done under the circumstances. We’ve actually set up a bluetooth camera in the kitchen to monitor all the counters so we can be in another room and keep track on our phone–she is that dedicated to her counter surfing hobby, no matter how out of reach we put anything edible. It’s kind of funny when these random calls of “leave it!” ring out from another room and befuddled, Cassie looks around the kitchen, muttering “How the hell did he know??” as she reluctantly pulls her head away from the kitchen sink–for 15 seconds, before another try.)

  15. I understand. Am a cat person who loves my Calorie as only a mother can love her children. Call ie is calico so beautiful she gets compliments from those who do not love cats. I spoiled her from the day I brought her home. Her mother was a feral cat who had her kittens on a back porch. Enough said… I could write a book. And speaking of books, I just finished reading the ” Language of Kin” I could not put it down. The story was a good depiction of people. Just people. And the interactions, feelings,loves, good things they felt for others and animals was so true. You captured it all. When I read your story it became clear why the story was so real. Will be reading more of your novels. Your ability with words is amazing. Thank you. Venna J Werner perhaps we will see you again at Treble Arts

    • Venna, what a lovely comment. I so appreciate hearing from you and am really happy that you read and loved The Language of Kin.

      I get it about your Callie! She sounds beautiful! If I could, I’d have a cat, too, but their dander makes me sneeze and my eyes water like faucets. Dogs, on the other hand, don’t set off my allergies at all.

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