The puppy search has been temporarily suspended due to Real Life. George has been sick and in the hospital with a really bad infection. He’s home now, but still visiting an infusion clinic every day for super strong antibiotics. Like the Old Roadhog says, “I don’t know. I don’t know.”

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While George’s illness was creeping up on him, I decided to do some deep cleaning in the bedroom. This involved moving a king-size mattress and box springs, which was not so easy to accomplish. While trying to put the bed back together, the mattress knocked me over and I fell like a tree in the forest. I don’t think they include falling down in the Geriatric Wellness Recommendations, but no harm done. Point being, though, I found a dog toy under the bed. It was a small hard rubber ball with a little bell inside and I thought, “Oh good, maybe Jezz will play with this.”

Yesterday George and I were in the kitchen. Jezz was nearby and George rolled the bell ball across the floor. It wound up under the dining room table, surrounded by the dining room chairs. Jezz whined, which is unusual for her. She poked her way between the chairs, whining more and more, and George moved one of the chairs so she could reach the ball. She took the ball in her mouth, still whining, and dropped it.

We were mystified, because after all that effort, Jezz didn’t play with the ball. George rolled it toward the refrigerator. Again she whined, took the ball, and dropped it beside her cushion. She seemed to want the ball near her.

George and I exchanged one of “those looks.” We were thinking exactly the same thing. Buddy’s smell was on that ball. It had to be.

I decided that it wasn’t doing Jezz any favors to keep the ball around, since it made her whine so pitifully. George distracted her while I put the ball in the trash container. Immediately, though, Jezz came right to where I was standing. She cruised back and forth, sniffing, and whining. We have never, ever seen her do anything like that. I believe Jezz misses Buddy as much, maybe even more, as we do.

The other day Jordan asked me why we didn’t get another dog like Buddy. I told him another dog would be great, but his grandfather wasn’t ready quite yet. I said George was still feeling sad about Buddy. Jordan asked if it was okay to start looking and I told him we could look at dogs, but I would not badger George about it. Probably Jordan only heard the first part, because he immediately wanted to head for the nearest animal shelter. I said okay, we would look, but we would definitely not bring home a dog, because George had to be part of the decision.

I knew the animal shelter was right beside our vet’s clinic; at least, it had been the last time I noticed. However, when we arrived, it turned out the county had built a new facility further north. The new shelter was too far away to get there before they closed for the day. Jordan was disappointed, but I assured him we would go the next morning.

I have always heard that it is never a good idea to visit the pound if you aren’t prepared to adopt one of the animals, because they will break your heart. Jordan and I arrived before they opened the doors and we were behind a lady who was bouncing on her toes from excitement. The staff welcomed us and asked what we wanted, so I asked to see male Labrador-mix dogs, preferably young. They said there might be one Labrador type dog in the kennels, so we walked back. I was surprised the place didn’t smell awful, but it was clean. The instant the dogs saw us, they commenced to bark and some of them were jumping high up in the air.

By and large the dog population consisted of pit bulls. The breed has had a lot of bad publicity and I admit, I am afraid of them. The kennel assistant said some of them are really sweet and he showed me one that he said was good natured. He said the temperament of the dog lies mostly with how they were trained, but still I think, “How can you know that?” I don’t think I will adopt a pit bull or any mix thereof.

The only dog that remotely resembled a Lab was named Austin. He weighed maybe 40 pounds, had a black coat with a white chest, and was about a year old. He had been in the shelter for about a month and wound up there because he had been running loose somewhere near Pilgrim Mill Road.  A kind lady had rescued him and brought him to the shelter. It was interesting that Austin didn’t bark. Instead, he stood on his hind legs and tried his best to interact through the wire grill work. When I touched him, he licked my fingers for all he was worth.

Austin licked my hand instead of barking     Jordan petting Austin

I asked if we could spend some time up close with Austin. The attendant put him on a leash and escorted us into the play yard, which contained several kennels about 10′ x 10′. He said we could take Austin into one of the kennels. Austin was not entirely well behaved on the leash, but he was so very excited to be out of his cage, I couldn’t blame him. As soon as we let go of the leash, he investigated everything in the pen and was eager to be petted. There was no mistaking that Austin was happy to be outside in the sunshine. The attendant brought Austin’s file and showed me everything that was there. I took a couple of photographs.

I would probably have brought Austin home with me, if the decision had been solely mine. I told the attendant that if my husband was willing to come with me, I would be back. We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, because Jordan was needed at home, so we left Austin in his cage. I was hoping I would see him again, but I knew that might not happen.

Later…. I showed George the photographs. We talked about what we would do in the afternoon. I said we could stay home and he could watch the Barrett Jackson auto auction on television. Or we could go out and get some lunch. Finally we decided to make some chicken salad and have lunch at home. Barrett Jackson wasn’t on yet.

George surprised me. He said, “If we go up to see the dog, will you be disappointed if we don’t bring him home?” I said no, that I knew when I took Jordan to the shelter that I wouldn’t bring one home. I said it would have to be a bond with both of us.

Then George surprised me again. He asked, “Do you think we should take Jezebel with us, so we will know if she accepts him?”

We put Jezz in the car. Poor baby, she didn’t understand, since she hardly ever goes anywhere. She’s so old, she mostly sleeps.

The timing was bad, because the dogs were eating. Austin didn’t even notice we were standing there. He was hungry and if a little piece of kibble fell on the floor, he would stop gobbling from the bowl and he would eat the piece from the floor. George wandered off to look at the pit bulls. By this time, a lot of the dogs had messed the floor and the place was smelling pretty bad. I guess the early morning visit is the best one. George went back into the lobby and talked to a staff member. By the time I came out, he was ready to leave.

Before we got in the car he asked, “Are you upset if we don’t get the dog?” I said no, that it had to be a good fit. But then in the car I said he hadn’t spent any time at all with Austin, because of the feeding time. He said maybe he should go back inside and ask to take Austin in the play yard. I said that would be good and that I would wait in the car, so he could have his own experience. In a couple of minutes, George came around the corner of the play yard and called to me to bring Jezz.

There were two attendants and one of them had Austin on a leash in one of the big outdoor kennels. We took Jezz into an adjacent kennel. The two sniffed at each other through the wire and then Jezz ignored Austin. He was very interested in Jezz, though. George said maybe we would see if they got along in the yard.

Austin then revealed that he is definitely an alpha dog. Unfortunately, so is Jezz. Austin wasn’t trying to mount Jezz from behind, but he was investigating every inch of her. She didn’t get really upset until the second time he put his front feet on her back. Then she growled and barked at him. Austin did the same. In that instant I knew they didn’t have a future together. I said I didn’t think Jezz would tolerate Austin and we shouldn’t try any more.

Again George was concerned I would be upset, but I told him that Jezz is too important for us to impose a dog that is aggressive. We both think a puppy would be the best route.

George allowed that being around the dogs had not been as difficult as he had thought it would be. I think now he is willing to search for Next Dog. The caution is appropriate about leaving the pound without taking an inmate home with you. I do feel badly for Austin, but maybe somehow he will find the right home.






It has been about two weeks since we had to put Buddy down. He was twelve years old; his kidneys were failing and there was no way to make him better, so we let him go. It was not easy to say goodbye, because when we took him to the vet that day, a week before Christmas, I thought there was still something they could do for him. That was hard news, much like the time they told me George had to have emergency by-pass surgery. There’s no way to prepare.

I have been aware for about a week that I want another dog. I’m 71 years old and I feel like, “Why waste another day of seeing that happy smile, that wagging tail, those loving brown eyes?”

George is still grieving. I am grieving too, but I think another dog celebrates Buddy’s life. The fact I want another one is a tribute to Buddy.

I consulted my neighbor, Sandy. She’s an industrial-strength dog lover. She advised me to check Craig’s List for free dogs.

I did. There are dozens of free dogs on Craig’s List. All are supposedly house trained, but probably not.

One dog has brown patches on white, with one big brown patch over his left eye. I would name him Rayban.

George doesn’t even want to look at the photographs. It hurts him to think about the next dog.

I will have to be patient. But somewhere out there my next dog is waiting.

Yesterday while we were in Covington returning Polly to her home, I got a phone call from a lady named Laurie who said she had “your Buddy” ready for us. I explained we wouldn’t be home until late in the day, but that was okay with her. She wanted to deliver Buddy’s remains to us yesterday, no matter how late. I said we would be home by six o’clock, which left us plenty of time to get home from Polly’s house.
Sure enough, at six o’clock the doorbell rang. George opened the door to a middle-aged woman who had red-dyed hair with gray roots and a ton of makeup that failed to conceal her wrinkles, plus vivid red lipstick. That was our first clue that she was not totally genuine. Jezebel showed up and, although she did not growl, she started shaking and would not move away from the woman.
What followed was a pathetic performance about how sorry Laurie was that we had lost “your Buddy.” And how honored she was to return him to us. And how sweet Jezebel was. She kept leaning down to touch Jezebel, interrupting her speech, which made her start over again. And again.
I was sort of gritting my teeth by the third recital. Eventually she displayed the cedar box and how it had Buddy’s name on a brass plate, plus a lock, with two keys taped to the back. She emphasized that she had not locked the box, in case we wanted to see what was inside. She said the ashes were in a plastic bag. Plus they had thought to put some of Buddy’s fur in another bag. I said I really didn’t want to open the cedar box right then. Laurie seemed a little disappointed. She returned to her comments about how honored they were to take care of Buddy for us.
She also handed us a round disk that had Buddy’s paw print, plus his name, pressed into it. I said it was really nice and thanked her. And next I handed her the credit card and said she could use that for the payment. She petted Jezebel some more. Then more speech. Finally she completed the credit card transaction.
She kept talking. I swear, it was almost like she wanted to see if she could make us cry over Buddy. I was ready to throttle her, but instead asked her how far she was from home. It was very dark by then. At last she left, after saying she really, really hoped we would have a happy new year, despite our loss, and I said to George I sure as hell was ready for her to leave, because I thought she was creepy. He said he was ready for her to leave the instant she walked in the door.
Yuck to Laurie the Creepy Lady. And welcome home, Buddy. We love you.