In which I attempt to pull off the surprise of the year.

Readers – you will not even believe what I did. I went and fell in love with a dog. I KNOW! Me! I swore after Goldie (my childhood pup, who I had from my fifth birthday until my junior year) and Cooper (our black lab who we adopted as a pup when I moved in with the Ex and who died the year after the divorce) that I was never going to make that mistake again. You get a puppy, you fall in love with it, they absolutely own your heart, and then die and you are broken for the rest of your life because how do you ever get over a dog?!

Bee and Gracie, they did not like this “we can’t get a dog right now” answer. Oh no. Not even the four dogs at their dad’s house satiated their dog-owning needs. I tried explaining that we couldn’t afford a pet, that a dog was a lot of work, and every other oft-used parent’s excuse in the book, but they weren’t having it. And so I told them that if I found a red border collie (the breed Goldie was), and she was our kinda price (ahem: free), then we could get her. Big mistake. Those kiddos searched every dog kennel we passed. They would beg to stop at PetSmart and every dog adoption fair we passed. Mostly, I let them look. Who doesn’t love looking at puppies?! And quite often their dad or stepmom would chuckle and text me that the girls had talked them into stopping so they could look while they were with their other set of parents, too. Bee and Gracie had their hearts set on finding me my doggy.

And I was thawing. I’d look through the pet ads every once in awhile when I needed a quick break at work. I’d think about how nice it would be to have a dog running with me on the trail – and probably safer, too. I thought about how I wouldn’t have to wonder if those bumps in the night were worrisome types of bumps, or figments of my imagination, because a good dog would bark if it was something I needed to investigate. And I had to admit – I was starting to miss having one around. Even considering all the downsides – and lord, did I list those off in my head. I even almost adopted a beautiful pewter-grey lab last spring. I kicked myself afterwards because she was just gorgeous and so laid back; I haven’t been able to find another lab who looks like her. The only problem (besides the usual ones) was that she was only eight months old and I really don’t want to deal with a puppy. I raised one already and I know that just because a dog looks fully grown, that don’t mean she acts fully grown. Still, I had missed out on the lab and dogs got tucked back into the back of my mind for awhile.

A few weeks ago, my cousin Shayne adopted a new little spaniel puppy named Lucy. My Uncle Teddy always had a spaniel, perfectly behaved and loyal to the ends of the earth, and so it makes sense that my cousins would be dog people. And Lucy is lovely – so sweet and adorable! The pictures almost make you forget the fact that puppies whine all night long, not unlike newborns. And then my friend Kim (not to be confused with my silly stister) adopted the cutest little basset hound puppy, Greta, after her beloved hound Lucy had passed away after 14 years together. Lucy P. Hound was mourned and missed like crazy – trust me, not a few tears were spilled – but Greta is just the. cutest. My resolve – it was cracking.

I’m pretty sure the night I heard about Greta was the night I looked again at I’ve looked so many dozens of times, and I never find the perfect border collie, so then I end up googling red border collies just to see my Goldie’s doppelgangers, and then I see that they’re bred for the low, low cost of $8,000. And then I keel over and die knowing that we will never, ever own one.

Yeah, I’m sure you’ll never guess what I found on Petfinder.

I entered my zip code, my breed preference, and the need for a girl dog. (We do not raise boy dogs at Casa de Katie. We are a Girls Only establishment.) I clicked through page after page of puppies. I found lots of black and white border collies who had Goldie’s ears and eyes. I even clicked through on some of them. I saw one behemoth of a collie who looked half german shepherd, and who I strongly considered asking about. She came with a free cage (probably because it had to be custom built…and I am only half-joking), knew several commands, was a “mature” dog (which is techno-speak for “not a puppy”) and was shy around people so I wouldn’t have to worry about her being all jumpy. I was thinking over Giant Dog when I saw her. Redd. A red border collie at a public shelter all the way on the other side of the metroplex. She was part border collie, part brittany spaniel, and looked so much like Goldie that my heart hurt, although she still had enough of her own look to be her own dog. I was crazy about her.

That was Thursday night. I kept Redd in the back of my mind all day Friday, busy at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed with 600 things. I wasn’t really interested in a dog! Who was I kidding! This was just the kind of thing I did – googled things I wanted, though half-seriously about how to make it happen, and then let the idea wither away. Except that by Sunday I was calling up the shelter to see if they still had her. They were closed. I actually clock-watched on Monday morning so I could call and see if Redd was still around. She was! Only, the lady warned me, Redd was scheduled to be put down first thing Tuesday morning. If I was interested, I better hurry out there.

I threw on shoes, braved the pouring rain, and trekked more than an hour across the metroplex. Everyone seemed to know me when I got there – I had asked a lot of questions about Redd, and I had come a long distance, but I think mostly it was because Redd was something of a favorite with the staff. I could see why! She was so sweet! She practically sat on my foot and leaned into my entire leg, trying to love on all of all at once. The lady – Deb – warned me on the phone that Redd was jumpy, and I braced myself. Cooper was a jumper, and she was 75 pounds of lab. Goldie was jumpy and scary-frantic – she scratched the heck out of my dad the entire first year we had her and would demonspeed through the house. It took me more than an entire year to not be afraid of Goldie. So I prepped myself – and Redd was gentle as could be. The shelter guessed her age to be about a year, but if they’re right, she’s the calmest border collie puppy I’ve ever met. She’s good on a leash, knows the command “sit”, and heeled at least half the time I asked her to – and she doesn’t even know me!

Except she did. I am telling you – that dog and I were meant for each other.

And that, my friends, is how I “bought” myself a free border collie who seems custom-ordered. (Well, I guess the real test of that will be when we see how well she’s house-broken.) I can’t take her home until Saturday, and it broke my heart to leave her there – how will Redd know that it’s just temporary?! Her poor heart is probably in shreds! But meanwhile, the vet is going to spay her, get her up to date on all her shots, and make sure she’s in tip-top shape.

What I will be doing in the meantime, is preparing the world’s greatest surprise! See, the girls don’t know that I adopted a dog. When the girls are at choir practice on Saturday, I’m going to go get a crate from a friend, buy some dog food and some tennis balls, a collar and a leash, and get the house ready. When I pick the girls up, we’re going to take a detour. And when we pull in, I’m going to pull the leash out of my purse. SURPRISE!

Four more sleeps until Saturday. I am dancing in my seat with excitement!



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3 Responses to “In which I attempt to pull off the surprise of the year.”

  1. Shayne Says:

    This made my heart happy today! I hope she brings as much joy to you and the girls as Lucy has to me 🙂

  2. Kathy Says:

    She is beautiful. You are CRAZY. And I am so jealous. I want a dog so bad and we just aren’t home enough, and blah, blah, blah. I am sure she will work out perfectly.

  3. Where she belongs. | Can't Get There From Here Says:

    […] really say Fenway was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Except…she sort of was. You’ve heard the story – I accidentally logged on to a petfinder site, saw Fenway, and saved her from walking the […]

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