Probably four and a half years ago I decided that I wanted a dog. I had bought a beach cruiser and it had a basket and I wanted a dog that would fit in the basket - a nice small dog. I didn't want to pay five hundred dollars or more for some tiny dog when there were plenty of other dogs at shelters and in rescues that needed homes. Rescue groups always seemed to ignore me every time I approached them so that wasn't working out. I spent hours on Petfinder looking at dogs. I just couldn't seem to find the right one.
My birthday falls around St. Patrick's Day so four years ago I decided to have a St. Patrick's themed party. I had friends over, there were green drinks, lots of green drinks and general merriment. The only problem was that I had planned on going the next day, however, to a dog adoption festival sponsored by the Best Friends Animal Society at a park in Burbank. Well, being a trooper, and despite not feeling so hot, the next morning I sucked it up and headed out to the adoption festival with a friend.
We roamed around the fair looking at dogs - again some of the rescue people ignored me. We looked at some of the dogs from animal shelters but no dog seemed to catch my interest. We even headed over to the cat section to take a look (I did not want a cat) and when we came back and were about to call it a day some guy grabbed my arm and said "hey how about this dog?"
I turned around and there was a lady holding a dog on a leash (this is important later) with a funny little collar on. He was gorgeous. But he was a little bigger than what I was looking for. The man said he was a black and tan coonhound and that he was not going to get any bigger. After the guy left the nice English lady said that he was 32 lbs and was very sweet. His name was Chopper. (The dog already weighed 43 pounds I found out at the vet the next week and the vet said he would "fill out" some. He's been 70 pounds for a few years now.)
We went off somewhere quieter so we could get to know each other. While the lady told my friend that the last dog she had had that day had been adopted after two people fought over him. I knew that meant I better decide about this pretty dog soon or someone else would snatch him up. But the dog ignored me. He would look at everyone else or wag his tail at people but seemed not interested in me. While I was getting to know him we heard bits and pieces of his story - which wasn't much. He had been turned in that day at the West Valley Animal Shelter and they had brought him to the fair because he was so handsome. One person said he had had a child with him who was crying and someone else had said that this was the second time he had been brought to the shelter.
He was very calm though around all those other dogs and people (that didn't last too long) so it seemed like it could work. I told him that if I adopted him he would have to wear whatever outfits I put on him. He didn't protest so I took that as an agreement to the deal.
As soon as I said yes things happened very quickly. It turns out that the shelter people don't take credit cards - only cash or a check. I didn't have the $43 to pay for him or my checkbook (I almost always have my checkbook now). As it turned out my friend had her checkbook (she almost never has her checkbook with her) so she wrote the check for Chopper and said he could be my birthday present. She then disappeared (she was checking out another dog who ended up peeing on her). There was some paperwork to fill out and I got a coupon book for Petco. The lady who took the check said to me "if you decide you don't want him don't bring him back because he's already been here before." I got the message. The next thing I know they handed me Chopper on a shoestring. The nice leash had disappeared and they handed me this giant dog on a shoestring. We took our coupons and headed to the car. My friend snapped a picture of us.
|The first picture ever of me and Chopper. Contrary to popular belief I was not trying to choke him just get him to look at the camera - he's gotten much better at this now.|
Well the first car ride was interesting - first of all he didn't make a peep (also not normal for Chopper) and he threw up. (I don't throw up, I don't like throw up but as it turns out this dog would end up throwing up a lot - I'm over it now.) After we made a pit stop to clean up the car we headed to Petco where we used the coupons to get some leashes, a stuffed toy, a squeaky toy, some treats, some food and signed up for a doggy training class. (Buying food was traumatic as the adoption coincided with the big food recall so they were literally pulling food off the shelves as I was trying to pick out food). Finally at Petco the dog decided he liked me and paid some attention to me - I've been buying his love ever since.
He did well his first night home. It was a Sunday so I went to work the next day and left him alone. (Based on future events I would never trust a dog this soon again.) I went home at lunch and he had not done anything naughty (this also wouldn't last too long). For about a week I had the perfect dog - then he figured out that I wasn't going to give him away and the real Chopper came out - we spent a few months spraying books with bitter apple spray, leaving the house throwing treats and spraying him with a squirt bottle so he didn't try and bolt, and a host of other fiascoes (which included him locking me out of my apartment, him almost getting run over and other "fun" stories). All in all though I like the Chopper I have now - in the words of Huey Lewis I'm happy to be stuck with him.
|Chopper's first night at home - he looked very serious back then.|