Note: An edited version of this column appears in the 2/19 issue of The Glendale Star, and the 2/20 issue of the Peoria Times
I never wanted a dog.
We lived in a pet-free development in New Jersey before we moved here, and that was fine by me. I never had anything against dogs -- my parents and my wife’s parents each had one, and they were great. Loved ‘em. But personally I never wanted that added responsibility. Or hair. Or poop. I just never wanted a dog.
My wife was another story. For four years she was in my ear about getting one, and for most of that time I could easily fend her off by explaining that we were not allowed to have one where we lived. (We were also not allowed -- according to the document we signed -- to house livestock, which was an equally difficult temptation to resist.) By the time we moved to AZ in the summer of ’07, we were so busy getting our lives in order that getting a dog was, thankfully, not on our to-do list.
By this time last year we were largely settled in, just my wife and I in a much larger house than we were used to, with the rest of our family far away. Valentine’s Day was fast approaching, and I really wanted to make a splash. For the first time I found myself at least approaching the idea of possibly, maybe, thinking about getting a dog: Well, Arizona IS very dog friendly…
When I casually mentioned to several coworkers of mine (who already had dogs) what I was thinking of doing, there was no turning back, because now they were in my ear everyday. I needed to start doing research, and I knew three things going in: my wife wanted to adopt a dog, it had to be a small one, and we live in Peoria. A quick Google search led me to Small Dog Rescue of Peoria, the first known time where each word of a business’ name totally and literally encapsulated everything I was looking for.
It was easy for me to be patient because I still wasn’t sure I wanted to do this. Each day I casually browsed the dog “bios” on the Small Dog Rescue of Peoria’s website. A few days before Valentine’s Day I stumbled upon Mac’s bio -– a two-year old Terrier mix (my in-laws have a Terrier, who my wife is known to leave voice mail messages for) who was playful, great with kids, and cute as all heck. I found myself going back several times a day to make sure he was still on there. Eventually I printed out his page and decided to show it to my wife, figuring this was a decision we needed to make together. I told her not to get her hopes up. I am such a romantic: Happy Valentine’s Day honey! Here is a printout of an animal we may or may not be able to get. If it falls through, I will buy you a shirt. So what’d you get me? Also: Her hopes were up.
The next day, after a string of phone calls confirming he was still available, we went to visit Mac at one of the dog-foster homes of Small Dog Rescue. They say that you don’t pick a dog -– they pick you. When I walked in and sat down Mac crawled right into my lap. Other dogs in the house that were smaller than him were playfully hanging from his neck, and he couldn’t have cared less. An hour later we had ourselves a dog.
It’s been a year now that we’ve had him, but it feels like ten, mostly because I cannot remember what it was like without him. I still can’t get over the fact that there’s a being on this earth that is so unbelievably ecstatic just to see us get home from work. He runs with me, he goes on road trips with us, he sits on our laps while we watch trashy TV and doesn’t judge us, and he loves to play wiffleball. (And by play wiffleball, I mean eat wiffleballs.) He follows us everywhere, except when he’s content laying in the sunshine outside, or in the sunrays inside. He’s a hit wherever he goes. A month ago I was carrying him in an elevator at a hotel in downtown Phoenix, and a fellow dog-lover who was so smitten with him let him finish her ice cream. Mac happily obliged.
One year later I can say that, yeah -- we pretty much made the right decision. Strange too because, ya’ know, I never wanted a dog. I even recall marveling at the “weirdos” who were obsessed with their pets. Two months ago Mac was featured on our Christmas card and I even set him up his own Facebook page. I am that guy. And just like Mac with dogs hanging from his neck, I couldn’t care less.
Oh, you guys are watching Flavor of Love XII? I'll be up here.