Update: Zoe has gone to another. Such is the risk with online love.
Gather around the IPad, friends, while I tell you a little story about a dog or two.
I didn’t have a dog as a kid and the dog that made the biggest impression did so in a literal kind of way.
I was 17 and walking home from a school function with a friend when we spotted a dog at the gate of a family that kept vicious dogs chained to a row of doghouses. There was no animal control authority in my small town, and I think we were all relieved these dogs were kept on a short tether. In hindsight, the short chains probably went a long way to the dogs’ nasty temperaments. On this evening, one of the dogs was loose and sitting at an open gate.
“Keep walking,” said my friend and I did. The dog snarled, lunged and sank its teeth into my calf. I kept walking dragging it with my right leg until it let go and went home.
If I wasn’t afraid of dogs before then, I was ever after.
Until. Until six years later, a scrawny terrier camped outside the Prince George newspaper where I worked. I took it in, fed it a hotdog under my desk, then took it to the vet. Distemper. I named him McMurphy after Jack Nicholson’s crazed character in One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest.
Not long after, a Norwegian Elkhound came calling. Just showed up on our porch. When he fought off a bigger dog who’d attacked poor frail McMurphy, we named him Leon after boxer Leon Spinks. Leon protected McMurphy. McMurphy guarded my babies.
Fast forward several years. Daughter #1 was walking along a street near our home when a guy pulled up on a bicycle with a basket full of puppies.
“Here,” he said, handing her a pup. “Find it a home.”
We named her Stanley because we were anatomically ignorant and she grew into a big galumphing shepherd cross that insinuated herself to the whole neighbourhood. (“Stanley!” I shouted when as a puppy she bounded after three men passing our house. Two of the three turned with what-have-I-done expressions. Both were named Stanley.)
The point of these puppy dog tales is that I’ve never looked to own a dog, they’ve just kind of arrived.
But today I’m finding myself in an online flirtation with a chocolate lab. Six years old. Now being fostered. Needs a loving home and I’m falling over myself – in an online way – to acquire her.
Seems Facebook is like the Plenty of Fish of dog matchings.
Zoe – that’s her name – is a good looking girl and getting lots of attention. There is competition for her affection and, as with many infatuations, some of it will be younger, closer, and have more money.
But who knows.
Watch this space.