Archive for the ‘Puppies’ Category

Stella, Llewis & The San Francisco Chronicle

October 3, 2009

On September 23rd The San Francisco Chronicle featured the story of how I wound up with a Greyhound pup vs. the kicked back ex-racer I was planning on getting.

Thanks to Eileen Mitchell, the columnist in charge, for encouraging me to shorten the story up to get it accepted into the paper and for loving the houndies as much as me.

Click here to read it.

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So You Want To Rescue A Greyhound Pup?

August 17, 2009

Lately the rescue group I got Stella from has gotten a lot of litters coming in. This has meant a few things for me: 1. I’ve needed to resist getting another pup on a near daily basis and 2. I’ve been asked to talk with prospective owners about the joys (and miseries) of raising a Greyhound from scratch.

There’s not a lot out there about raising a Greyhound pup because nearly all rescued hounds are track dog rescues and hence adults.

But occasionally there’s an “oops litter” or some backyard breeders or some circumstances that lead to pups needing adoption.

So I gathered my thoughts about raising a Greyhound pup to put them out into the world for anyone who is considering adopting a Greyhound puppy. Or anyone who’s just interested the hell and gone trip I went through. Kidding!

Although not someone with huge amounts of dog experience before I got my pup, (I’m the Dog Virgin) I have learned some things along the way. These things may help you decide whether or not a Greyhound puppy is for you.

If you’re on the fence hopefully I won’t scare you off it though. Because watching your puppy grow from deliciously cute to an exquisite, lightning fast dog, is an incredible experience to behold.

So here’s the little ditty I put together about Greyhound pups…

1. Greyhound Pups Turn Into Greyhounds

Know that your puppy will turn into a Greyhound one day so if you’ve fallen for a pup but don’t know a lot about Greyhounds you’ll want to, hem, bone up. For example, if you’re big time into a people-obsessed, dying to please Collie or Lab type of puppy this here’s a whole other ball game. Think cat versus dog and you’ll begin to get a feel for a Greyhound’s tempermant.

Hard to believe but the fat little pup you take home will someday be a tall, long legged, pointy nosed Greyhoundie. It’s especially good to keep this in mind when you go shopping for your pup. If you’re buying a crate, buy for the future. This means buy a huge one. Same goes for dog bowls, pillows and cushions they’ll sleep on. In twelve short months your 20 pounder could easily be 80 pounds.

Your pup will likely be high energy. All pups are. But your puppy will eventually turn into a Greyhound and 18 months down the line you’ll find that your dog is sleeping 23 hours a day just like those retired racers that sleep like cats all day long.

Your puppy will bound and run around like a goofy dog but somewhere at about a year old you will see that your puppy’s gait has changed and he’s running like the wind, or more accurately, like a Cheetah. This sight is absolutely thrilling. Congratulations: you now own the fastest dog on the planet.

2. Greyhound Pups Are Pups First, Greyhound Pups Second

Pretty much everything you read about raising any puppy applies to Greyhounds. So read anything and everything you can about raising a puppy. There is no shortage of books and there’s no shortage of free information online.

As for me, I kinda like the Dog Whisperer’s philosophy, especially as it applies to puppy raising: it’s all about exercise, discipline and affection—and in that order. If you can get your pup out at least once a day for a long romp (an hour minimum) plus a few walks, you will have a worn out and obedient puppy (they can’t argue if they’re exhausted.)

Puppies will chew regardless of how much you exercise them, so make sure you’ve got plenty of stuff for them to chew on and puppy proof your place beforehand so there’s nothing they can chew that will be harmful to him.

In terms of discipline and training, since you’re getting a puppy take advantage of it: sign up for Puppy Kindergarten. Keep an eye on behavior you find troubling. Research it online. Get help with a trainer. Problems with pups are hugely fixable if they’re caught quickly! Note: no dog is perfect. Your pup will come complete with quirks and a few things to work on here and there. No need to panic. Just be observant and take any concerns seriously.

Also, socialization is so key. The key to having a really great dog experience is to get your dog socialized as much and as often as possible. This can happen at parks, on walks or in classes like Puppy Kindergarten. Your pup will learn how to be in the world which will make him a happy guy. And you’ll have a dog that other dogs (and their owners) will want to be around.

Speaking of other owners, here’s another great thing: while your dog is socializing you get to socialize too. And what might start out feeling like chores (the walks, the park, the classes) actually may turn into a hugely positive addition to your life. You’ll thank your pup for the latest cool person you met on your last walk.

Take your pup places—to friends’ houses if they let you, eat at a restaurant outside where they let you have your dog—get them exposed to any and everything you can. You have the cutest puppy on earth and you’ll have swarms of people asking you about him. It’s a blast for you and it’s great for your pup. And it gets the word out about Greyhounds which is always a good thing.

3. Don’t Let House Breaking Break You

House breaking will feel like it’ll never end. Stella took a few months but we were down to a mistake or two a week with a couple of weeks. But it was a bit consuming at first. Keep it in perspective if you can.

The one tip I got that worked great: jot down when your dog pees for the first week or two you have him. You will quickly note patterns (Stella peed right after eating, right after exercising, right after walks.) Soon you’ll be able to get them out to the yard proactively. Note: every mistake they make is your fault. Yup, sad but true.

You will need to show your pup the doggie door or take him outside but you need to proactively get him out to do his business. From what I experienced and what I have heard, most of the Grey pups sleep through the night without incident. We also crate trained Stella (see crate training section below) so she never went in her crate.

There is a lot of information online and in books about housebreaking and I don’t think Greyhound pups really differ much from any other dogs. Except my bias is that I think they may be easier to break as they tend to be pretty clean dogs.

4. Leaving Your Pup

This goes for any breed but I feel it’s worth pointing out. You have a puppy now. Eventually you will have a dog. But you also have a life and you need to go out and live it, at times, without the dog.

We opted to crate train Stella which means when we leave she’s left in her crate. Dogs like dark caves so a crate feels good to them. They also won’t go to the bathroom in their crate. A dog is taught by their mother to not soil the place they sleep in. So you will not come home to a mess.

One advantage of crate training your dog includes always knowing where your dog will be when you’re gone. You will also know that your house and its contents will remain in tact while you’re away.

If you do decide to crate train your dog never ever make the crate a punishment. A crate is a safe, happy place with treats, soft bed, darkness and quiet. We direct a fan in our dog’s crate to keep her cool if temperatures rise. She sleeps in it at night and relaxes there when we’re gone. And it’s never a problem when we ask her to go in.

The disadvantage of crating is that you can’t go out for huge long stretches of time–especially when you’ve still got a young pup.

The other way to go is a doggie door—that gives you more flexibility, for sure. You just need to make sure your pup doesn’t destroy things in your house when you’re gone.

Some people also opt to have a dog walker or friend come in and take their dog out for a break. Doggie daycare is another option if you need to be gone for longer stretches. Some of these options come with a price but having a strategy of how you want to handle leaving your dog is definitely something to mull before you bring your bundle of joy home.

Finally, if you are leaving your pup at home whether it be in a crate or not, start out with very short stretches of time. And do not make a big deal of leaving or coming back. If you want your pup to think it’s no big then act like it isn’t. Note: even if you don’t ever have reason to leave the house leave anyway. Get your dog used to you being gone. You do not want a dog that cannot ever be crated or left alone. You want a happy dog but you also want a happy you and happy you is one that can leave your house without a big scene.

5. Leashing Your Pup

As mentioned, eventually you will own the fastest breed of dog on the planet. You will also own a dog without a real great sense of direction or concern for anything in the way of what they want to chase. Your dog will run after a cat or squirrel with so much focus and speed that nothing else matters to them in the world—and that includes cars. These dogs are bred to hunt by site so when they see something interesting move they’re off to the races.

Given that you have a pup, do tons of recall training but still, unless you’re in a very safe area away from harms way, you gotta keep your pup on lead.

Recall training tip: go out to a safe enclosed area with your pup, a friend and some treats. You stand way at one end, your friend at the other. One of you calls the pup and he comes running to you. Treat him. A minute later your friend calls your pup and she treats him. Within just a few minutes you’ve accomplished two things: you’ve gotten some training under his belt and you’ve exhausted him!

Broken Nails and Puppy Dog Tales

May 1, 2008

Stella has broken two nails in a month. I told Dee and she said that Greyhounds can get SLO (symmetrical lupoid onchodystrophy) also known as phemfigus. It’s an autoimmune disorder that funkifies their nails. Lovely.

Or maybe she just tears around on the beach like a maniac on toenails that have not been clipped since birth, I wondered. Since Greyhounds can get this nail problem, I took her in. Dee was right: don’t mess around with the hound.

Forty five dollars later, it appears to be the latter of the two right now: the vet said her nails looked perfect. Perfect except they were Howard Hughes long and the quicks had grown out.

I was told I need to cut her nails nearly daily to train the quicks back. Oh joy. I was feeling like I had too much time left in my day so I’m glad for this. Truly. Really, I’m glad.

So while at the pet store today buying nail clippers, a frisbee because she’s constantly ripping everyone else’s off at the beach, two fifteen dollar, eight foot long bully sticks and a new kong because although I know it’s somewhere in the house I can’t seem to locate the one she had, I glanced over and saw…

The Cat Section.

And I thought about Llew. How little Llew cost me. How little he required. How he manages to not only entertain himself but feed himself as well by chasing, killing and swallowing his own little baby rats.

I thought back to the blood stains on my zebra rug from Stella’s now broken toe nail. And then back to the Cat Section with a few toys here and there. I thought about the Knox gelatin I needed to buy to strengthen Stella’s nails. And then back to Llew whom I left for three weeks while in South Africa and who had no issues having a friend stop in to feed him once a day no charge. Stella stayed at a dreamy dog bakery and spa for three weeks and $750.

I thought about how P. and I went out to dinner last night and took Stella so that she could sit in the car vs. being crated. When we arrived back, the radio was on (this is for real, folks), the station had been changed and the windshield wipers turned on full blast. Oh, and the gear shift on P’s car had been demolished.

Meanwhile, Llew was at home destroying nothing except maybe the hopes and dreams of a few dozen rats.

So as I glanced at that Cat Section, for a moment I envied my previous dog-free existence. I thought lovingly about my once clean rug and tidy life with more disposable income. I thought about how much I worry about Stella. And how much she is a part of me and I don’t want to see her hurt, injured or sick. I thought about how much I can’t stand that I care so much.

But you see, that’s the problem. You can’t go back. Because worse than any regret I might have getting her, I can’t imagine not having her. Once your heart’s been busted wide open, there’s just no turning back. So as much as I hate to admit it, I’d move heaven and earth for this radio station changing, gear shift eating, nail breaking cow print pup.

Let’s Make A Deal

February 4, 2008

zebrarug.jpgNot one to dwell much on life’s happier moments, I quickly moved on from the Llew victory to the next challenge: maintaining a urine free home. I’ve always had indoor/outdoor cats. The disadvantage is that they may live a shorter lifespan due to environmental concerns—cars mostly. The advantage is that they can live a happier life climbing trees, chasing rats and using the world as their litter box instead of my living room.

When driving up to Auburn, we thoroughly discussed go word options. Go words are what you say when you want your pup to, well, “go.”

Note: When you pick your “go words” choose wisely. Just like a name, these words will stay–some would say haunt–you and your pup for a long time. You will be saying these words over and over and over again.

P. suggested, “Do your business.”  But I’d heard that one so many times before. It was so old and so tired. And what if we were out and there was another owner telling his dog to do his business?  And another owner out a few feet down doing the same?  If we all had the same go words we could potentially set off a cataclysm of dog urine throughout the city.

It was my duty to think of something original to keep my neighborhood from washing out under a sea of pee. I wanted something dignified, mature and original.

After some thought I offered, “Close that deal.” 

While P. didn’t exactly bring the car to a screeching halt to celebrate my genius, he did nod and smile which was enough for me.

I was especially concerned about accidents as a few months prior to getting Stella I’d finally made the huge decision to buy a zebra striped rug for the living room. It had coffee and cream colored stripes.  I decided, worst case, I could handle Stella having an accident on this rug—but only on the darker, coffee colored stripes. I hoped she would understand.

Unfortunately, I was to learn that dogs don’t speak English and they definitely don’t have an eye for style. Puppies speak the languages of food, water and full bladders every 15 minutes.

Not long after Stella arrived, the zebra striped rug became a target with no regard to at least hitting the coffee stripes vs. the cream ones. But, in fairness, every area was a target.  This is because Stella, and all other puppies, pee like there’s no tomorrow.

Stella peed before, during and after eating. Before exercising and after. She peed after getting up from naps. And she napped constantly. Turns out, she was the best saleswoman in town; she was closing deals left, right and center. So much so that I began charting her sales levels to see how she was doing:

Day 1: 11 deals closed,  1miss (living room.)

Day 2: 15 deals closed, 2 misses (kitchen and dining room)

Day 3: 14 deals closed, 2 misses (zebra rug and dining room.) Managed not to mame her.

This charting would go on for weeks. And each miss, every time, was my fault. I didn’t let her out quickly enough. I didn’t recognize the signals. It was never, ever her fault. Ever. This was and is, I think, the number one take home lesson to learn on this issue.

As the charting continued the days turned into weeks. And then the weeks into months. And finally, we were in December when, at about the six month mark in her little cowprint life, all of Stella’s deals were being closed out doors.

The technical term for this, I believe, is house trained. If your dog doesn’t close a deal in your house for 30 days straight, she is house trained.

Hallelujah.

To celebrate this momentous occasion I made the phone call I’d been waiting to make since nearly day one. Nope, I didn’t call P. right away. Nor did I call any close friends or family. I called the carpet cleaners and had  the zebra striped rug professionally cleaned. For $109, I was left with only a faint, faded splash of yellow as a reminder of the deals Stella closed as a pup indoors.

The rug didn’t actually look all that bad before the cleaning. But for me it was important to realize a few things. One, the rug’s perfection was no longer of great import to me. And two, I did like being able to have some sense of control. I didn’t have to have a beat up looking living room. I didn’t have to have my hardwood floors scratched into oblivion. I didn’t have to put up with a couch coated in dog fur. I was beginning to understand that, with some diligence, some training and some patience I could, unlike all those puppies are hell articles, have my greyhound puppy cake and eat it too.

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice, Men, Cats and Greyounds

January 22, 2008

So there’s this poem by Robert Burns about how a mouse’s home gets churned up by a plough. In the end, he says “The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.”

Which makes you think hey, why bother planning if someone’s going to just come along and ruin everything with a plough?

Sure. Ploughs happen. But sometimes, just sometimes, in those rare instances, you plan and tinker and consider and worry something to death. And, miraculously, the sun shines on you and, voila, it pays off.

Such was the case with Llewis meeting Stella. We executed our meeting plan properly and Llewis didn’t exactly ignore Stella but he behaved. Specifically, Llewis behaved normally.

He was a little interested, a little irritated, a little scared, a little puffed up.  After a while we opened the crate door.

Predictably, Stella acted as if she’d found another littermate; she wanted to play. And Llew, via a swat on the nose, communicated that in no way, shape or form was he nor would he ever be related to her or any of her species.

Importantly, Llewis didn’t lunge, he didn’t puncture, he didn’t wreak havoc. It was as if he had assessed the situation, concluded that the crate wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon and decided that despite her inferiority, she was worth putting up with if it meant that he would continue to receive free room and board.  

So okay, maybe that plough eventually was headed right for us and would soon ruin us just like it did that mouse’s nest but, for now, for the moment, our best laid plans actually did us some good.

The Big Day

January 21, 2008

I often wonder how Stella felt on that hot August day when we drove the three hour trek, for the second time, to take her home. I could not seem to get beyond feeling bad for her: she’d be leaving her mom, her siblings and a large spread in the country for a two bedroom, one bath house in a concrete jungle.

Dee told me she would be plenty upset at some point and to comfort her–but not too much, “She’ll get over it”

When we arrived we were greeted by the woman running the facility. She seemed happy to see us—ecstatic even. I figured she’d been fantasizing for the past week about offloading each an every one of these hellions onto new caretakers.

The woman pointed towards the field where the pups were all turned out. We’d come to take Stella away and to rock her little dog world for good. But for the time being she could have cared less: she hung in the field, ate grass and did what dogs do best: she stayed in the moment.

I snapped a few photos, signed a stack of paperwork and then, for the first time, showed Stella her leash. She looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars.

Weighing in at about fifteen pounds, Stella sat in my lap the entire ride back. I thought we’d gaze into one another’s eyes but I realized this was impossible to do if one or both parties were dead asleep. I kept myself occupied by thinking about the next challenge ahead: Llewis. I was hoping Llewis’ disinterest in Bally would generalize to all puppies. But I wasn’t 100% counting on it.

After many days of strategizing, our game plan for introductions was as follows:

P. would go up to the house first and put LLew in the bathroom. He would call on his cell, let me know the coast was clear and then I would come in with Stella.

Stella would get a quick and hopefully urine free tour of the home and then she would be whisked out the back door for a pee. Stella would then be brought back and we’d put her in her crate.

Llew would be released. And he would then have run of the place. He would be unable to kill her, we were pretty sure, if she were protected in the crate.

As we got closer to home, Stella began to wake up.  I thought again about how she would never see the green fields in Auburn, about how she wouldn’t wake up the next day and be able to play with her littermates. About how, in one car ride, her life would be radically changed.  

But while I wondered and worried and pondered how everything would go down, Stella simply yawned, looked up at the traffic, and then fell back to sleep in my lap. She’d deal with her new life as it came—one moment at a time.

Stellaahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

December 7, 2007

 

 

littlestella-01.jpg

 

Having shelled out a couple of mortgage payments worth for a dog crate, puppy food and every treat and toy known to dog kind, it was becoming harder and harder to deny this was happening.  It was as if my water had broke but I was still denying the pregnancy.

I needed to get real. And get down to naming her.

When I first brought up the idea of calling the pup Stella, P. latched on hard–so hard that he took first dibs on it for his future Shepherd if I didn’t go with it. Grabbing something someone else wants is always nice. And hearing everyone’s Brando (Stellllahhh!!!!) imitation would be good for a few laughs. But mostly I liked how Stella had this long legged, 1950’s black and white film starlet kind of vibe. It was a name she would grow into, I thought.

So Stella it was. I even began to tell a few people about Stella, using her name. It seemed awkward at first, to have named her and to have begun using the name before we’d really spent any time together. And I wondered if it wasn’t a touch obnoxious to re-name her something quite different from the name she was given in Auburn. But just like she would grow into her name I too would grow more comfortable using it.

What’s In A Name

November 29, 2007

Years ago my friend Bob was living up north on a few acres of land. Growing tired of mowing the grass himself, he decided to get some help. But unlike the rest of us who would just pick up the phone and call a gardener, Bob opted against the bipedal route. 

Instead, Bob decided to purchase some sheep.

bobsheep.jpg

A few days after he called in the order, a grizzled sheep dealer arrived at Bob’s place. The sheep were quickly released onto Bob’s property where they immediately got down to business. Bob stood waiting in silence for the sheep dealer to finish writng up his paperwork. A man of few teeth and even fewer words, the dealer tore a receipt from his book, handed it to Bob and eventually spoke only these words before he took off in his truck, “Don’t name and don’t tame ‘em.”

The next day Bob called to tell me about Madge, Simon and Bud, the three sheep he put on his credit card. He didn’t plan on inviting the sheep inside to watch TV on the sectional, but he did want some sort of relationship. And with no plans to make mutton, why not name ‘em?

I thought about Madge, Simon and Bud when I was trying to think of a name for the puppy. Naming something doesn’t only mean you won’t be eating it. Naming something means it becomes a someone And it was for this reason I couldn’t name my puppy.

After all the bridges I crossed I did not anticipate that this would be the last one. But it was. Deep down inside I thought I could back out and say I’ve reconsidered if I’d never named her. But to name her and back out well, that was worse than a hit and run.

So the internal confict raged on. In bed I lay awake, restless, churning over a puppy—a puppy that played all day in the sun with her eight littermates—a puppy that was being prepped for departure the following week—a puppy, that, for now, would remain nameless. 

Frozen Feet

November 16, 2007

frozenfeet.jpg 

I’ve purchased two houses in the Bay Area. For those not from this part of the world, this translates into a honking amount of debt and a lot of responsibility—financial and otherwise. Oddly, in neither case, likely due to stupidity or ignorance, did I experience the typical cold feet and buyer’s remorse that everyone else experiences. I wasn’t quite sure what people were talking about when they described these feelings of panic and nausea.  But then I said yes to that puppy and now it was all falling into place for me.

 

My feet weren’t just cold, they were frozen solid.

The problem started, most likely, because I couldn’t take the pup home with me soon after the open house. The litter would stay together and all be spayed and neutered before anyone would be released.

This left plenty of time for me to stew in my neurotic juices. There was no adorable puppy roaming the premises to reinforce that the sacrifices I was about to make would all be more than worth it. Instead, there was just the theoretical responsibility of a high maintenance puppy taking on a life of its own in my head. So the fact that I eventually nudged myself over the edge wasn’t exactly a big surprise.  

It was innocent enough. B. forwarded me a friendly email with an article she found online about a nice couple who adopted a nice couple of Greyhound puppies. The woman half of this couple, while not complaining exactly, chronicled the endless and massive number of times these creatures pee. She described in detail a home ripped apart and the personal sacrifices, like sleep, that come with the “joys” of raising Greyhounds. In the end, she added something forced and cheerful like, “Take pictures of this sleepless blood bath because it’ll be over before you know it. Ha, ha ha!!”

At the end of the article, which I could barely finish reading, I had a full blown, flop sweat panic attack.

When I came to I decided I just couldn’t do it. I would not let a dog destroy my house. I would not let a dog eat my Adidas Trail Runners. But most of all, there was no way any dog would get in the way of my REM sleep. It was there that I drew the line.  For me, the world without sleep is a world I’m better off not occupying. I picked up the phone to call Dee.

It is here that I should tell you that somewhere along the lines B. had given me the name of a very nice woman who knew a thing or two about Greyhound pups. Dee had raised dozens of pups from scratch (AKC show Greyhounds) as well as adopting rescues. When it came to pups, Dee was the Man.  We began talking early in the process so, by now, Dee had a sense of me so I could let loose.

“I love my home. And I can’t live without sleep. I can’t do this…I…”

Dee interrupted me, “These people are idiots. Who lets a dog rip their entire house up and eat all their shoes?”

“They did!”

Dee reassured me, “Calm down. It’s gonna be fine. The problem you need to focus on is how LLewis is going to react. Because if your cat can’t handle the puppy and you have to give that puppy back you will be, and I guarantee it, broken hearted.”

Dee was right. I was freaking out and obsessed about some stupid article online. She also added that this should be a happy time. A little scared is fine. But more scared than excited, I need to look deep within on that one.

I sat silently on the other end of the phone.

“You there?” she asked.

I bit off the last remaining nail left on my last remaining finger that still had a nail. “I’m here.”

“I don’t want you doing something you don’t want to be doing but hear me out. Raising a Greyhound pup is an opportunity of a lifetime and it won’t come around very often. I’d hate to see you let that slip away because you got scared off by some bozos who wrote an article. So promise me you’ll take a few deep breaths before you do anything.”

Dee was a Greyhound angel from heaven and I’d never even met her. She was wise in general and specifically about this breed.

“I promise” I said. “And thank you. You know you’re the best.”

“Nah” she said, “I’m just old and know stuff.”

I went to bed and, like Dee said, did nothing—except breathe.

Won’t You Be My Number Two?

November 15, 2007

mynumbertwo.jpg

P. and I arrived in Auburn one half hour after the open house began. Hot, humid and a three hour drive from civilization, we thought we’d be the only two.

The place was mobbed.  It was as if everyone thought Greyhounds just sprung from their mothers’ heads and were born full grown. Few, aside from the breeders at the tracks, ever get to see the babies. Having learned of the open house, those who loved their retired racers (and there were plenty of them) came from near and far to witness the puppy sized versions of their beloved hounds.

We were told that no adoptions would take place at the open house so it should be just a kick back, get to know you kind of a day. I felt good about this—it made me feel relaxed. We could just take things slowly.

When we went through gate we saw profiles of each puppy on the fence: three were already adopted.

Great. It was mobbed, a third of the dogs were gone and now, I said to P., take a look at the profiles of the ones left.

Big Trooper is the leader of the pack.

Irene is a loving, sweet girl.

Xena likes to have fun!

I instantly grew suspicious of these descriptions like I would a too rosy description of a piece of real estate. Sweet girl meant needy girl. Playful and fun loving meant destructive and noisy. And it took no genuis to figure out  the what rhymes with Big Trooper.

As people continued to stream in, I wanted to cut to the chase. So I asked the manager of the facility if she could pick out the top three easy going pups. Specifically I was interested in ones that could hang with a cat that would never stop hating him or her.  

She instantly pointed to two black pups and a black and white one.  “One, two and three” she said as she pointed, “in that order.”

We spent time with One, Two and Three but they all seemed the same to me. They were all cute and squirmy and when they weren’t playing they looked like fat little corpses laid out on a field of grass.

Having said that, we did begin to zero in on the cow print girl: Number Two. More than anything, we observed. We watched how she interacted with people and her siblings. We also kept a close eye on Number One—we began to think she could work too.

P. has amazing eyes. He could spot a fly taking a crap from a mile away. We figure he must have been a sight hound in a previous life. So it was P. who saw The Enemy coming. He called it dead on just as he squinted at the sun reflecting off her hand in the far distance.

You see just as we were beginning to discuss how Number Two might match the décor in my living room, The Enemy entered. P. said she was trouble, that she was up to no good. And that we should be afraid. He was right. The Enemy ran towards Number Two and then just scooped her up—just like that and said, “Mine.” I wondered if this is how it’s done—if Greyhound pups are like gold and I should have done that myself. Had I been a fool?  Should I have just grabbed the first pup I saw and said “mine” before anyone else could?

The Enemy held Number Two up in the air and then back down in her arms. “Mine” she said again. If you’re wondering what age The Enemy was, let’s say she was no spring chicken. To add insult to injury she had bling dripping from every digit given to her from what, we figured was her eighth or ninth husband. 

Paniced, I did what any dog virgin with no experience would do: I headed to one of the coordinators for the day and asked: “Exactly what’s the deal here?”

The coordinator, who truly was sweet–and not in a fake real estate euphemistic way—saw the fear in my eyes and said she would note that I was interested in Number Two.

Phew.

The day progressed. More people piled in. And turns out The Enemy was a pretty nice lady.

“Please adopt her” she said, “Because if you won’t, I’ll have to.” She loved Number Two but was not at the stage in life where a puppy would really fit in.

Turns out, 99% of the people that showed up fit this category.

We stayed longer than most. And as the day finally wound down, we narrowed it down to Two—and to One. We couldn’t decide. Number One or Number Two…we were mulling when I heard: “Yes, we’ll take her.”

I spun my head around and before I knew it, Number One was gone. Like that. A couple had come in and decided, instantly, to take Number One.

The choice was made, and the cow print girl, by default, was ours. That is, if we still wanted her. The coordinator looked up at me, “I have you down for Number Two, do you want to adopt her?”

I went and looked at her description: A very photogenic little girl, she has a tiny spot interrupting her white blaze. She is, of all the puppies, one we would call Miss Congeniality.”

Miss Congeniality. I tried to think of what they were really trying to say. Is she overly friendly? Does she try too hard?  As I continued to strain my brain, P. nudged me and then pointed out to the field.

 

And there, in the patch of grass, all by herself,  I saw Miss Congeniality, her little black and white cow print body stretched out in the sun, sleeping. If this wasn’t the best house on the block, I didn’t know what was.

 

“We’ll take her.” I said