Monday, September 2, 2013

A poodle connection

You know how you say "never say never?" Well, I know my husband sure did after our beloved Newfie-mix Kirby died last April. Now in his defense, my husband didn't hate dogs, just the allergies that came with one in the house...and reemerging childhood asthma. So I suppressed my dog-loving genetic code  for my marriage and we went on with our lives.

At first I agreed it was less work not having one more responsibility. Less dog hair to sweep up. No rushing home after a long day to let the dog out. No poop to pick up before mowing. No $1,200 vet bills when the dog chased a squirrel and tore his ACL.

But I missed the companionship. The unconditional affection. The sweet brown eyes. And the long walks. Then, just when I had pretty much come to the conclusion I would be dogless forever...we found Charlie!

Never in all my dogs I'd had as a child and adult had we had the toy version. My impression of most small dogs was peeing on someone's feet from nervousness and shivering with fear. And don't get me started on froofy Poodles who always won "Best of Show."

Alas, that is what I found us bringing home one day after a spontaneous trip to an adopt-a-pet day at the local pet store. My daughter and I had been quietly researching dog breeds and Poodles, apparently, are hypoallergenic. We would spot a Standard Poodle a mile away then pounce on the owner with leading questions (Dad within earshot of course) like, "Is it true they don't shed?" and "Did you get him because you have allergies?" Always affirmative along with the added comment, "And they are really smart!"

The door had been opened.

Still, when we met a scruffy poodle mix the non-profit rescue lady had told me about on the phone, he looked more like Sandy from the "Annie" Broadway show. He was clean enough, and super happy, but his hair was overgrown and matted and he was a dull brown color that looked like he'd lived in his share of alleys.

We'll never really know his heritage or past except he was supposedly at a kill shelter in Stockton, CA and came "north" with the help of this rescue group to our happy home. The one hurdle: Dad.

I won't say it was easy. We had many a night of few words and after we discovered Charlie (as he came to be known thanks to my daughter) was NOT potty trained and did NOT like to sleep alone in the laundry room, things looked pretty grim.

But the love of a dog can do wonders and it did its magic on my husband despite the wheezing and sneezing (so much for least Charlie did not shed) and the fact we really did steamroll right over his pleas not to bring another dog into the house. Soon Charlie was wiggling his way onto the couch at my husband's feet, rolling over submissively on his back or staring at him blankly with his black little orbs. Soon, my husband had dubbed him, "the weird little dude."

Today we all love Charlie. Sure, it's a lot more work with frequent potty trips outside, learning the crating business and finding the right food that settles his tender Poodle tummy (plus two vet visits in the first month alone). But he is extremely entertaining with his "zippies" around the house, his desire to sit in your lap as much as possible and his incredible talent of doing doggie yoga in your lap upside down.

You see, if you say "never" you might lose out on a black-eyed, cotton ball mess of a friend for life.

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