Furry, Odd-looking Genetic Wonders And The Joy They Bring

It’s been a year since I informed Jeff that yes, thanks, I really DID need a puppy.

And after wondering aloud if maybe we could just go out to dinner instead, he relented, asking only that we name him (or her) “Perry” after a beloved dog from our early years as a couple. I agreed. I would have named the thing “Carburetor” if that’s what it took.

So I went to where I knew there was a litter of Chihuahua-Poodles and Poodle-Chihuahuas, an important distinction, I learned, in the grossly inflated “designer dog” community, wherein three-quarters Chihuahua merits a “Chi-Poo,” but the more pedestrian half-and-half mix is a “Poo-Chi.” This is a point the woman made several times as I demonstrated both my inability to do fractions and (politely, I hope) my Chihuahua-sized interest in the distinction. I was captivated by the only Poo-Chi (get it?) left, a 10-week-old white, bowlegged, shy little guy whose coat could only generously be called scraggly. I’m not much for Poodles, and I still think of “Chihuahua” as the Mexican State my friend is from, but while the other wheaten-coated puppies were adorable, I kept coming back to the one I knew was “Perry” to his very core.

He weighed two pounds, but God blessed him with a bladder the size of a softball, and he slept pretty much through the night after only a few days. He was appropriately feisty AND submissive to our 2-year-old Lab/Pointer Mix, Georgia, whose gentleness is of Mother Theresa-like proportions, and bonded easily with Jeff, my son, me, and an orange-and-purple stuffed giraffe. Best of all, he cuddled. I like that in a dog.

Little did I know then that 2009 would bring the sudden heartbreak of my dad’s death. A sadness I could not have imagined — and still haven’t really begun to feel fully — marked the first six months of the year and persists in barging in at times, lingering too long, unbidden and unwilling to slip away when I try to. Grief is a persistent visitor indeed.

But the desire of my heart this time last year didn’t, I see now, have its origin in my lifelong love of dogs and in the novelty of having a tiny one. A loving God planted it in me, knowing, as the Divine would, that I would suffer a loss unexpected, the kind of loss that’s never “cured,” that never expires, but that responds remarkably well to the Heaven-sent ministrations of a wonder of canine genetics, eight pounds of pure love, mischief, and the breath of a thousand rawhide chewies.

I am grateful.

2 Responses to “Furry, Odd-looking Genetic Wonders And The Joy They Bring”

  1. Tom Hansen says:

    A little something I think you might enjoy, Keely . . .

    “The Dog Song” by Nellie McKay

  2. Thanks, Tom — I couldn’t have sung it better myself! You had the privilege of meeting and photographing Perry at the Market the Saturday after we got him, and that picture has now been reproduced onto a coffee mug and a keychain, as well as having been sent to eight zillion of my closest friends. And yeah, I bet all of them said the same thing my younger son said when he first saw Perry — “You know, I think ‘curiously appealing’ might be about the best I can do on this one . . . “


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