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In every life there are moments of insanity. My life was opened to many new and differently insane moments recently, starting with the most seemingly innocuous of decisions.

The process began nine months ago when (my fiancé) Barb’s ancient toy fox terrier succumbed to kidney failure. We had seen this coming (She was nearly 17 - the dog, not Barb!) but no amount of preparation is ever enough. Like everyone else, we found the loss too painful to bear and swore that we would never, ever love another dog. No. Never. Not ever.

Then reality set in. Despite the relative freedom of dog-free life, there’s something about the pitter-patter of little dog feet that makes a house into a home and it became clear that something was missing. Even our cats seemed to grieve (in their insouciant, cat way) over the absent dog. Cautiously at first, then with increasing fortitude, we began to explore the idea of getting another dog. Seymour, Barb’s grand-doggie who’d come to visit us for a couple of weeks played a big part in our emotional transition, but Barb’s daughter wouldn’t let us keep him, no matter how we begged and pleaded. We were stuck finding a new doggie on our own.

We gravitated towards adoption of a homeless adult dog and scoured the Internet. Given our small home and large work schedule, we needed just the right dog. Our dog would spend time at the veterinary hospital, so it had to be friendly with people, children, and other dogs. Our dog would not be left at home alone, so it needed the ability to remain quiet in the office while we’re working (Barb is also the hospital office manager and, like me, works six days a week). Our dog must get along with cats. Our dog must be smart, and fun, and a credit to the canine race. It would not hurt if our dog were really, really cute. In other words, we required a perfect dog.

But that’s kind of a problem. Although the rescue web sites seemed replete with perfect dogs in need of homes, none of those animals were perfect enough and some even hinted at potential problems: “No cats!” “Needs big yard with really, really tall fence.” Comments like those tended to make us wonder. Then there was the issue of website lag. We’d email or call about a certain perfect dog and get a response, sometimes days later, saying, “Oh, that’s Fluffy! He was perfect! We found a home for him six weeks ago.” I exaggerate, but not much. In the end we had no choice but to muster our courage and visit the animal shelters in person.

An animal shelter is not a place for the faint-hearted. No matter how hard the rescue people work, there is always an air of desperation in those places. Perfectly sweet and adorable animals, most of which are perfectly inappropriate for our household, stare forlornly through the bars, seeking desperately to make a connection with each new visitor as if they are somehow aware that a clock is ticking and a trip through the one-way door awaits them. I can’t visit an animal shelter without wanting to take every one of the animals home. Barb just cries. Who can visit one of these places without wondering, “What it the matter with people? WHY do some people insist on randomly breeding their animals?” The answer is simple: Some people are selfish idiots.

In the end, we found our perfect puppy at a Noah’s Bark adoption event in Rohnert Park. We turned around and there she was. She wasn’t quite what we thought we wanted, but something clicked and we knew she was the scruffy little dog for us. Barb named her “Sophie,” and I admit the name is a vast improvement over my suggestion, “Seymourita.” Sophie is a little hellion who loves to run through the house playing ‘Mad Doggie!’ But she only does so when ‘She’s got the Wabies!’ Our cats quickly determined Sophie’s function in the house is to serve as a cat toy. She’s a sweet little snuggler and we could not be happier to have found her. More next month.


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