Thursday, February 13, 2020

Meet Oliver

We have a new addition to our little family!

His name is Oliver.

Little Ollie joined us on Saturday after we drove down to Olympia to meet him.

The funny thing was, we weren't in the market for a dog although everyone around us certainly was: my sister-in-law and best friend adopted dogs within days of each other and my mom has just ramped up her canine search.

In fact, Chris was helpfully sending her profiles of potential dogs on Petfinder when he came across this sad old little pup at a county shelter. My mom wants a younger pooch so he knew that it wasn't a good fit for her. But he kept coming back to this dog's profile page.

I was mostly, blissfully, unaware of Chris' spiral into longing-for-a-dog-mode until he called me up one day and casually said " Hey, I'm leaving my meeting in Downtown Seattle right now. I was thinking of popping down to Olympia to have a look at that dog".

Wait. What? You're going to "pop down" to another city that has a 3 hour round trip commute time?

Is this my husband? The not-at-all impulsive, responsible, think-of-every-scenario-before-acting man? The neat freak who dislikes finding dog hair floating in his breakfast cereal?

I'm the crazy animal lover that wants to bring home all the critters and be the next Dr Doolittle. I'm the one that volunteered weekly in high school at an animal shelter, cleaning up crap and nurturing traumatized dogs.

But here's the thing. Our  last dog, Bailey, was my canine soulmate. I didn't think that any pup could fill his shoes and I've resisted, strongly, the pull of any and all dogs. You want a fish? A frog? Knock yourself out, kid, just don't ask for a dog cause that's a firm no-go.

That policy worked right up until we put the kids in the cars two days after Chris' jaunt to the shelter so the rest of us could meet this ancient bundle of mangy fur that had captivated my husband.

Here's the thing about dogs in county pounds: they're total unknowns. You have no idea how they'll react to small children, men, women, or other dogs. Heck, they don't even get names. Chris marched up to the counter and reeled off this dog's ID number.

Dang, he'd memorized the dog's identification number. This was bad.

Before we adopted Bailey we'd turned down countless dogs because they weren't the right fit for our family. I firmly believed myself capable of doing the same again.*

I believed that as we stared at the dog in the kennel. As all the other dogs went crazy and my eardrums nearly burst because of the howling.  I believed that as the volunteer was dragged outside by this untrained dog to the small meet-and-greet area, and as the dog took the longest pee ever.

And then he came over and put his dirty, matted, old dog head in Ben's lap while Emma scratched his ears.

30 seconds.

We had ourselves a dog.

So. What do we know about Ollie?

Not much. He is old. Somewhere between 8 and 10. Probably. He's mostly Labrador with a bit of something else. Collie? Who knows. Who cares. He'd been in the shelter a month yet was still painfully thin. He has bad skin, likely from eating trash for however long he was a street dog. He scratches constantly.

He was not amused to lose his ability to procreate and clipping his nails caused him to think some very rude thoughts about his new owners. He knows no commands, jumps on the furniture, and would probably steal the food from your plate. All the stuff you'd expect from a stray dog.

Yet he adores my kids. Unequivocally. Zero aggression and everlasting patience. Yesterday I went into Emma's room where she and the dog were involved in a complicated game that involved using Ollie as a mountain over which she drove her Barbie horse carriage.

He flops down at my feet while I'm working and begins snoring almost immediately. He hates going outside because he wants to be around his people every moment of the day. Going for a walk brought him everlasting joy.

Ok little pup, you can stay. It's going to be a long road ahead with some very much-needed obedience lessons, but we're glad our family is bigger by one.


*My mom, to her credit, laughed when I told her that I was capable of walking away from 'not-the-perfect' dog. "Ha! You could, maybe. But the kids can't." Truer words have never been spoken. Thankfully he was Mr. Right and I didn't have to tell heartbroken kids that he wasn't coming home with us.