If you are lucky and so inclined, you will perhaps have at least one dog in your life. And when I say "a dog" I mean "the dog." You know the kind -- the one that is special, becomes a member of the family, that you love and who loves you beyond measure. The one that inspired a bumper sticker that reads, "I wish I was the person my dog thinks I am." I am in my first such relationship with a male Maltese.
I have good reason to know the difference between "a dog" and "the dog." Before our current dog came along, I took in a stray and unfortunately, she was the WRONG dog. She ate the shutters, tore up the down comforters in a way that seemed almost psychotic, and piddled in her kennel every single time I left the house requiring a full scrub down of her and the kennel upon my return. She also had zero interest in interacting with us. No fetching the ball, no petting her, no cuddling...nothing. Although it is not politically correct for me to say, when she jumped the fence and took off, I breathed a sigh of relief.
So the search continued. I looked online at animal shelters, rescues and breeders for months for the right dog. Almost a year later, I came across an ad in the local newspaper that looked interesting. I decided it was worth taking a look and asked my girlfriend if she would come with me as she had much more experience with dogs than I did. As we drove over I said a little prayer asking for a sign that would let me know if this was the right dog for us.
An older woman answered the door and invited us into a small, dark house. She went to get the dog from the kitchen where she was keeping him penned in with gates. Out ran a small, fluffy, white ball of fur that seemed very glad to see us. He jumped up, was friendly and adorable! We started to ask some questions - how old was he - only 9 months old, how long had she had him - only a month or so, why was she looking to sell him? Was there something wrong with him? - nothing wrong, she had been talked into getting him by her visiting daughter. She realized that at her age she was not up to raising a dog that would live for many years - he was only 9 months old. We asked if she had veterinary records for him and she did from the people she had bought him from. He was healthy and his shots were up to date. When my friend asked, "What's his name?" and the lady answered "Calvin" it was the smack in the forehead sign I had asked for on the way there. Calvin was my father's name. I knew he was meant to be ours. She was firm on the price, $350. Knowing him as I do now, it was a bargain.
My girls had asked at the beginning of our dog search if we could get two and name them "Abercrombie & Fitch". When I brought our new dog home I said, "meet Calvin Klein." My lack of dog ownership experience made it a little like bringing a baby home. I rushed to the pet store to buy everything I thought he needed. Much like with babies he didn't need half of the stuff I bought! I didn't know how he would acclimate to our household and I was nervous.
It was smooth sailing right from the get go with Calvin. He has never chewed anything up or piddled in the house. He is sweet, cuddly, never far from my feet or next to me at night. He never meets a stranger. He dances on his hind legs for everyone who stops by our house or anyone we meet on the street. When we go for a walk and come across other dogs who might start barking and pulling on their leash, Calvin just keeps quietly walking along. He looks back at them like "what are they getting all crazy about?" The best part of Calvin is his smile. That's right, he actually smiles. I can't believe we were his third owners within a year. I don't know how anyone could give him up, but thank goodness they did as he was clearly meant to be the "one" for us. How wonderful it is to have someone look at you with unconditional love, be excited every time you come home (even if it was just 10 minutes ago!) and be your pal through thick and thin. I can't decide if it's a plus that he is the one person around here who can't talk back to me or if I wish he could so I knew what he was thinking.