Some of it could be chalked up to a bad experience with a Doberman when I was a tyke.
And some of it was circumstance. My Mom loved cats. She had a Siamese that came before me and that lived until I was 16, so she was the only pet I knew for a long time. By the time I moved out, Mom had adopted three cats.
In fact, come to think of it, the night I left, she replaced me with another cat.
That didn’t mean I wasn’t around dogs, of course, but I was nearly 40 before I had a dog around the house.
My girl had a Newfie when we met, and she warned me early on the dog didn’t like men. A lot hinged on how she took to me, and I think she’s still a bit disappointed that instead of growling at me, she put her head in my lap like a lovesick puppy.
Nowadays, we have two dogs — Sochi, our Great Pyrenees, and Rose. I’m not entirely sure what Rose is, but I think she’s distantly related to Jabba the Hutt’s cackling little monkey-lizard sidekick.
I can’t take the blame for Sochi, her dog momma adopted her on a trip to upstate New York on the “adopt now, tell Chris later” plan. She’s a big, lovable, nearly 100-pound ball of slobbering, shedding love who still thinks she’s a lapdog and that it should be perfectly fine for her to climb into bed with you.
But Rose? Rose is pretty much my fault. True, I wasn’t the one who spotted the little furball puppies at the farmers market that day. Also true, with that tall profile and those spindly legs, the dog the pet rescue brought that day didn’t look related to those furballs in any way. But, I’ll own it, I’m the reason she’s still here.
Skittish — and most definitely not potty-trained — I think she knew she was on thin ice by the end of a two-week tryout spent chewing anything within reach and avoiding pee pads in favor of carpets. That’s likely why she decided to jump in my lap and give me the sad eyes. I probably looked like a soft touch.
Spoiler alert: It worked. Since that day, Rose has been “my dog.” She’s loud, underfoot, simultaneously dominant, territorial and frightened of everything. Like me, she growls at neighbors. Those birds have it coming. And she can’t hold her licker.
She’s even managed to almost knock off my significant (I think it was by accident, she can be a jealous girl). She escaped with a fracture wrist, elbow... and maybe a shoulder. For the record, I do not condone that behavior.
On a whim one evening I taught her to fetch a ball and she’s been obsessed ever since. We have indoor ball and outdoor ball, and she knows the difference. Just ask her.
If I’m not paying attention, she’ll deposit every ball she can find at my feet. She been known to drop rocks on the floor if you aren’t paying attention. She knows when I smoke my pipe, it’s uninterrupted ball time, so she’s learned the sound of me getting out my pipe and the smell of the tobacco in my pocket.
No, she’ll never win “Best in Show.” Too many bright and shiny objects to distract you when you are supposed to be running that course. Heck, I’m not even sure what she is, certainly not purebred. But, she’s alright by me.
Yep. A boy and his dog. It just took 40-odd years.