Sunday, July 20, 2008

A moment or two to breathe...

I got the bad boy home last night. From Erda to Provo, it was quite a ride for both of us. He took the whole situation like a champ, bless his heart. It was his first time away from his siblings, his first car ride, his first time to wear a collar. It was my first time to be responsible for another life. I was so stressed out.

When we got home, I unloaded the pup and took him to the back yard. He wasn't too sure about his new surroundings. Even though I had things to unload from the car, I wanted to stick around for a minute or two while he adjusted. I laid down on the grass. Two seconds later, he was curled up beside me, panting away in the kind of deep, heavy breathing that comes from being tired out of your mind.

After feeding my grandpa, I turned off the nightly schedule on the sprinkler system, then I took my blankets and pillow out to the back yard. It was a while before we fell asleep; he kept opening his eyes to see if I was awake, and I kept opening my eyes to see if he was still there. Every time he'd move, I'd wake up. Every single noise seemed to alert him. He was just so scared.

I woke up on the lawn at about twenty minutes to six. It was still half dark, but I could see his eyes through his black mask staring back at me. I wonder if he really slept much at all. He was just so tired today. He didn't want to go on walks, he only played for about five minutes before taking a nap, and he didn't really look amused at anything. In the middle of all my worry, I kept having to remind myself that he's probably reeling from the big change.

I got so stressed out just thinking about him, whether or not he would have been better off back with the breeders. I've never felt so freaked by responsibility before.

We both need time to adjust.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Neurotic Parents

Picture a family of whacks, dressed up in their matching cashmere sweaters for a photo that will appear on their Christmas card, with some cheesy message about "Wise men still seek him" inside. The kids aren't allowed to eat anything that isn't organic. The children aren't allowed to sleep over at someone's house until they're 12. And none of them have seen a horror movie before they enter high school. It seems like a family situation straight out of a movie. Everyone rolls their eyes at the paranoid parents (quite often, just an overprotective mother) and wants to scream, "Back the hell off and let the kid grow up!"

I went shopping for Pistol on Wednesday night. I had to get a collar, dog food, crate, etc. in order to be able to bring him home today. As I started shopping, I found myself understanding those overprotective mothers. I looked at the ingredients on each of the doggy treats. I asked myself, is this organic? Are these ingredients going to make the kid overweight? I looked at the puppy foods and thought, is there too much calcium in this brand that will make him grow too fast and give him bone problems? Is the kibble small enough that he won't choke? I looked at the chew toys and put down the ones that he could choke on as well. I looked at the doggy crates and asked myself, is this one going to break his teeth or hurt his mouth if he starts chewing on it? Is there anything that will pinch his poor little body if he tries to get out? My mind ran through all of the dangerous possibilities.

I woke up today feeling really excited that I get to bring my boy home, but mostly, I just get so scared when I think about it. I've never been solely responsible for another life like this. Most people can accidentally kill a goldfish and not bat an eyelash, but this is a dog. There's more of a connection to a mammal of this kind. I just don't want to screw up another life. What if the poor boy gets lonely? What if I don't feed him the right stuff? What if I don't give him enough exercise? What if I spoil him and he never learns the kind of discipline that makes a truly happy dog?

I'm glad I'm being opened to new perspectives in life--the kind of perspectives that I used to scoff at. It's lovely to be able to develop that respect for different feelings and viewpoints.

Wish me luck. The kid is fully mine in less than three hours.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Baby Pistol

Has anyone ever heard of Erda? It's a quaint little place--a small gathering of farm homes rather than a city or town. Golden wheat fields wave in the wind, streets don't have gutters, homes have porches large enough that you can actually entertain on them, every one owns at least one horse and knows how to shoe it themselves. It's a nice place to see, then get the hell out of because it's too quiet and small. Places like that always seem to make me sad. Some personalities can feel so peaceful and beautiful in that kind of setting. I always feel really small and alone.

I'm tired of being alone. I live in my grandparents' basement, and I mostly sleep. I have goals and pursuits to carry me, but I don't feel quite as fulfilled as I'd like. I feel most fulfilled when I have someone to take care of. Rather than talk to myself all the time, I'd rather talk to a dog.

I remember begging my parents for a Saint Bernard since the time I was ten or eleven. Mind you, this was before that movie "Beethoven" came out. But my parents, remembering our latest and only family dog we had as a child, couldn't bear the thought that another dog might be neglected. Plus, they didn't like the bugs that animals sometimes attract.

I'm twenty-six, for kripes sake! What's holding me back?

As far as I know, there are only two Saint Bernard breeders in the state of Utah: one in Cache Valley and one out in Erda. Erda is a half-hour drive from Salt Lake. I usually have to go to Salt Lake on Tuesdays for my harp lessons, so I figured I would go out to Erda beforehand so that I could see the puppies.

I passed by the Salt Flats and the Great Salt Lake on my way. Can you believe that I had never seen either? It was really fascinating to see a place like that in Utah. It was also really dangerous; I was driving and talking to my mom on the phone at the same time. It doesn't make sense to stare and multi-task in the car. Don't do it, guys.

In the past two months, these breeders have had two different litters. He opened the gate to let them out of their kennel, and the twelve puppies scattered like mice--so intent to explore the world and play. I sat down on the grass, and two puppies came up to sit on my lap, one started nibbling at my hand, another started chewing on my shoe, and the rest just ran around me, chasing and tackling each other. You've never seen a cuter bunch of nuggets.

Anyway, this is my boy, and nine week old male that I'm bringing home this Friday. I get really irritated when breeders will name their puppies, only to sell them away. What right do they have to name a dog that will spend the rest of its life with someone else, just because they happened to be there when the litter was dropped? These breeders don't name their puppies. He's all mine, and I decide his name. He's Pistol.