Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Still in awe
The first time James met my dad, I left them alone in the garage for awhile so Dad could talk to James about whatever it is fathers talk to the 34-year-old man their 26-year-old daughter is shacking up with when they meet for the first time. Given that we were already living together, there wasn't really anything Dad could say or do, but James was the first guy I dated in which the relationship got the "meet the parents" stage. Dad had waited a long time for this moment and I wasn't going to spoil it for him. I never asked what they talked about, but afterward, Dad said to me "I like him. Damn it." He also told me that if anything ever went wrong in our relationship, it would be my fault. (Upon meeting James, my mother said the same thing about any future discord being my fault-almost word for word. And people wonder why I have little confidence when it comes to dating).
When I went out to the garage to make sure James was still in one piece and not about to hightail it back home without me, Dad said to me "So, you're getting a dog, huh?" I don't remember my exact response but it was something along the lines of "um, no." I was a cat person. James thought cats were and I quote "a complete and total waste of fur." Kittens were okay, except they grew up to be cats. James wanted a dog. I did not. In my opinion, that was the end of the discussion. And it was-for about a year.
I am not sure how it came up again, but eventually, I relented and agreed we could get a dog, as long as it was small. We researched dog breeds for 6 months before settling on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are very cute, very expensive and the one breeder in this area kept having "false alarms" when it came to her dog being pregnant.
After the second false alarm and no time table on when there would actually be a litter of puppies, we decided she was unreliable and started our search again. Three weeks later, I decided I wanted a Lhaso Apso and had picked out a breeder for us to go visit. This was when James told me he really wanted a spaniel of some sort. Grr. I was more than slightly annoyed by this-as he could have saved me a lot of time by telling me that when the Cavalier fell through. So, we decided to look for a cocker spaniel and found a breeder not far from our house who had a litter of puppies. I made James call to see if they had any available. The litter was 10 days old, and only 1 of the 5 was still available. So, we made an appointment to see him. On the way there, we decided on an amount we were willing to spend, but I was still pissy about not getting a Lhaso Apso, and was determined that I was not going to like the puppy.
We got to the breeders and "Huey" was handed to me. His eyes weren't even open yet. He stretched out a bit on my arm to get comfortable and then went back to sleep. And I didn't care how much he cost. He was mine. Six weeks later, in December 2002, James brought home the renamed Sammy. I was in Salem to take the State exam for my tax license so I missed his homecoming, but I took the next week off for "puppy leave."
That first week was miserable! He cried so much! I was interviewing for jobs and my neighbor said he could hear Sammy howling the whole time I was gone. James was out of town for work and by the time he got home at the end of the week, neither Sammy nor I would stop crying-I was so tired. We went to both area humane societies to get another dog. We didn't care what it was, as long as it was small. Unfortunately, the small dogs that were there were there because they didn't get along with other dogs. So, we pulled up The Oregonian online and started calling everyone who had cocker spaniels.
We found one lady who had two left. Someone was coming to look at one, but the pick of the litter was still available. By the time we got there, the other family had decided they really wanted a girl so both puppies were available-the pick of the litter and the runt. The prize puppy was tri-colored. Sammy is tri-colored and this one was not cute like Sammy. The runt was so much cuter. I picked him up and he immediately snuggled against my neck. She kept trying to push the pick of the litter on us and when she left the room, I told James "I don't want that one. I want this one," pointing to "Gremlin" who was still nestled against my neck. She came back and a few minutes later, we left with a pointy-headed runt named Gremlin. On the way home, Charlie kept coming to my mind, and it has proven to be a very fitting name for him.
Now I look at them 6 1/2 years later and I am still in awe that these are actual living creatures that not one, but two people trusted James and I to care for. They are so playful and loving that I sometimes forget how old they are. They are happy and healthy. They have very distinct personalities-Sammy is so laid back and Charlie is such a little ham. Charlie loves his ball; Sammy would be picked last in puppy P.E. class. Sammy has always been pretty equal opportunity but always turned to James for approval. Charlie has always been my dog. They could not be more opposite of each other or love each other more. They are the center of my world. I don't know how I would survive this part of my life without their unconditional love and kisses. They know when I need extra hugs. They are amazing little creatures and I am so blessed that they are mine.