Growing up I had a dog.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Anyone who knew Puffy knew he was Evel Knievel, Andrew Zimmern, and Steve-O rolled into 15 pounds of a black and grey scruffy fur in a mutt’s body. He had a taste for Schmidt’s beer. He was fond of devouring the mail offerings of the United States Postal Service. He could make a standing high jump of about 5′ and he had an affinity for jumping onto moving motorcycles driving down our alley(then chewing off his cast from the broken leg he suffered).
Puffy was one of a kind. A true dog’s dog. But since the day I came home from Cub Scouts(Pack 315. Stoney Creek representin’.) and was told by my mother Puffy had been put to sleep as I was learning how to tie yet another knot(my parents skipped the whole, “Puffy had to go to a farm” routine with my sister and I and went right for brutal honesty) I have longed for another dog.
No matter if you’re a confessed ‘cat’ person, own some sort of glorified rodent like a ferret(one evolutionary step away from the common squirrel if you ask me), or collect exotic fish from the Far East that have been raised by a clan of Ninja, there is nothing quite like the lap of a dog’s tongue, their excitement when seeing you walk through the door, or the way their hind leg goes when you pet then right under the rib cage(you know the spot). Try getting a samurai fish to do that with their fin?
So, for the better part of 22 years, on and off I have contemplated owning a dog.
Getting married only heightened the fever. My wife had also grown up with a dog(Princess) and for as long as we have been together, we have at least casually made conversation about getting our own tail wagging canine. If Alicia were not bad enough, having kids pushed the Mercury to the boiling point. To attempt to quell their hunger for a puppy, we got a cat. Alley Cat(you can blame my wife for the name). Nice enough. Friendly. Good with the kids but a cat. Only to be bothered when she’s ready. Not so in to chasing tennis balls around the yard. A lap from her tongue is like getting kissed by a piece of 40 grit sandpaper. Now I love my cat, but she is no dog. The Alley Cat novelty wore out the moment my kids realized she was no dog either.
I continued to hem. I continued to haw. As much as a furry new best buddy would be fantastic, I could not see laying out several hundred dollars for an animal that spends the better part of their days licking their genitalia(my admiration and awe not withstanding) and chewing my Nike’s. I was also leery of ‘saving’ a dog. My luck, I would have saved a dog from the Michael Vick Collection. So I kept holding the females in my house at bay(Besides the pressure from my own family, our development has more dogs walking around in it than a college campus has coeds with tribal tattoos on their lower backs. The pressure was everywhere.).
The bay dried up this past Sunday.
While Emma laid sprawled out on the sofa working on a nap and I tried to catch the last few innings of the Phillies and Red Sox, Alicia and Hannah went grocery shopping at Redner’s. Among the fresh produce and sliced thin cold cuts for sale there was also a puppy. Although we did not know her yet, what we were soon to discover was we would know her.
A printed sheet with the puppy’s face and a phone number was pinned to the cork board hanging on the wall next to the Express Aisle(You know these boards, every grocery chain in America has one. A place where you can find guitar lessons hanging next to a Strawberry Festival advertisement.). So as they walked out, Alicia saw the ad, saw the unbelievably low price for a 14 week old Yellow Labrador Retriever, saw the dog’s face, looked at Hannah’s wide eyes, memorized the phone number with lightning speed and broke a small number of traffic laws attempting to get home to tell me about a 14 week old Yellow Lab for sale.
While the idea of this dog was an instant hit to the female members of my house, I had my reservations. My girls(Alicia included) were transfixed in reverie about all the reasons people loved dogs so much. I had visions of snow filled below freezing early morning walks with a paper towel and Ziploc bag. I saw myself emptying bottles of Resolve onto my carpet. I would not be won over so easily with such egregious displays of pleading and gushing. I am a man of my convictions. So I did what any man who was strong with his convictions and firm in his manhood would do…I called the owner(as if I really had a choice).
The owner told us to come over that day and see the dog. So I gathered the troops and told them if they were so intent on getting this puppy, if we were to get her(if…yeah, more like when) all were going to have to cough up some money to buy her. We shook ceramic piggy banks, emptied our car change holders, I put in my container of change I had had since my Millersville University days and we headed off to a Coinstar. I proceeded to empty out years worth of coins(and pick out the Crayola Factory coins Emma contributed) into the Coinstar and at the tally’s end we had enough to buy one 14 week old Yellow Labrador Retriever(who would have thought my former laundry and emergency Natural Light beer money would be used like this).
Before the sun fell on Sunday night we were at her house and petting what would soon be our dog. By the time we left, we had a handshake agreement on the puppy and the next day after work I would be picking her up to take her to her new home(that sound you may have heard were my convictions going right out the window).
I brought our new puppy home on Monday night. We had decided on her name too. Short of lifting the sofa cushions to find loose change, this dog had been bought with a lot of coins and no coin more prevalent in our collection than the penny(like 2500 of them). So Monday afternoon around 5:30, we welcomed home our Penny. And in the briefest of time that she has been apart of our family, we are all so happy and so lucky to have our bright shiny Yellow Labrador Penny.
- Gentlemen, you will permit me to put on my spectacles, for, I have grown not only gray, but almost blind in the service of my country (and bald...and cranky...and out of shape...in the service of being a parent) - George Washington
Seek and Ye Might Just Find