My son, a senior in college, has been counting the days until he can have a dog of his own. For like, the past seven years.
You see, he’s one of those children of divorce, so he split his time between mom’s house and dad’s house – and when he was in high school, he said he didn’t want to make a dog move back and forth, or stay with one parent without him every other week. (There’s a little shot of guilt for ya, mom and dad!) And then in college, he lived in the dorms for a year, and then in apartments that didn’t allow dogs for the next two years. This year, he rented a house that does allow dogs, but he went abroad for school for the first quarter (someone else is living in his room in the house until he gets back).
All fall, from Barcelona, he’s been looking at dogs and puppies on the website for my local shelter, and occasionally asking if I would go meet one dog or another and report back to him on its potential as the perfect dog for him. Well, a month before it was really perfectly convenient, he spotted quite the candidate: a four-month-old pup from an American Black and Tan coonhound mom, and with what must be a Labrador dad. He looks like a slightly lankier black Lab, with longer, silkier ears. And the most devastatingly gorgeous eyes.
Yes, I went down to meet the puppy, and I brought the puppy home. And the puppy is not going back to the shelter – even if Otto and Tito would strongly prefer this to occur. He is nearly perfect: interested and curious, friendly and brave, but not hyper or witless. He’s very quickly learning dog manners from my dogs and my friends dogs, the ones I walk with weekly; all the dogs are friendly but firm. They let him know, gently but firmly, when he’s being rude or even just a bit less than perfectly respectful. And he’s learning to sleep in a crate, to potty on cue, to walk politely on a leash, to stick with me off-leash, to come when called, to “drop it” in trade for something nice (about 20 times a day), and so on.
I have to say, after fostering so many adolescent and untrained adult dogs, working with the clean slate of a smart, sensitive, confident puppy is an absolute joy. And it’s going to be a even bigger joy, just after the start of the new year, to hand over a well-started puppy to my smart, dog-savvy, responsible boy, who has waited so long in order to do everything just right for his perfect dog.