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The day we got Curly, I knew my family would never be the same again. Maybe not so dramatically, but we for sure changed, and I’m glad we did.
We got the puppy on a Sunday in July, 2008. My dad had talked to the owner on the phone to get directions. My dad, mom, and I drove to his house after church (Al was at a movie with a friend), and my dad told me to look for the house with the fish mailbox. When we arrived, we drove down a long driveway. There was a garage about halfway up the driveway and a white, puffy medium-sized dog tied to the door. He seemed to go wild as we went by, and he tried to break free from the collar that was holding him back.
We walked up the out-door staircase to the owner’s front door once we arrived. I don’t remember exactly what his house looked like but it was a dark red (kind of like maroon) and it was set on a hill so you could see some of the basement from the driveway. There wasn’t a doorbell, so my dad opened up the tattered screen door and knocked.
The owner came to answer the door after a few seconds. He was an old looking man with grey hair and baseball cap on, probably to cover his bald spot. He had a real raspy voice; he claimed to have laryngitis but I think he was just a smoker. Once we entered through the front door, we heard high-pitched squeaking and squealing coming from a door that led to the basement.
“Hello,” the old-ish man said. He gestured for us to come in, and we stepped in. I don’t remember his name, so I’ll just call him Joe.
“Howdy,” my dad said, but not with an accent, though. “How’s it going?”
“Good, good,” Joe said. “Hope you found our place okay.”
“Eh, it took a couple of extra minutes, but we’re here,” My dad said. He was in a generally good mood. I mean, who wouldn’t be when you’re going to get a dog?
“Alright, so are ya ready to go see the pups?” Joe asked, and I nodded and my dad agreed.
As we were led downstairs, the squeaking got louder and louder. Once we saw the two puppies, I knew we were getting one. They were the most adorable things ever. The only difference between the two was one had black-grey on its face and the other didn’t.
“This is ‘The Boss’.” Joe said with his raspy voice. He picked up the puppy with black on its face. He said the Boss was always fighting with the other puppies (well, other puppy) and that’s why he called him the Boss. The other puppies had already been sold.
My mom didn’t want to get the Boss because our last dog, Sweetie, already tried to be the boss. Sweetie was a beagle and my dad adored her, even though she was constantly raiding the garbage and using the living room as a bathroom. Before her health started to interfere with her attitude, she used to go on weekly adventures down the road and usually into other neighborhoods. My mom didn't exactly like Sweetie because she was usually the one who cleaned up after the dog. My mom also was usually the one who had to get Sweetie because my dad was at work. So you can see why my mom didn’t want to get the Boss.
The puppy without black on its face was really quiet when we picked him up. He didn’t try to struggle out of our arms at all, unlike the Boss. He just sort of fell asleep. They both were really cute, but the one without black on its face was way more adorable because it was sleepy.
“So, Ann, what do you think?” Dad asked my mom, who was holding the sleepy one. I was still struggling with the Boss and had to sit down on the broken wooden rocking chair behind me. Joe kept looking at me with a worried look, probably thinking that I was going to drop the Boss, but I wasn’t.
“I like this one,” Mom said, and pointed to the soon-to-be Curly with one hand while the other hand was holding him. Meanwhile, I barely could hold the Boss with two hands.
My dad and Joe talked about money for a couple minutes before deciding on $200. My dad felt his pockets and realized he left his wallet at home. I guess he really wasn’t planning on paying today, but once he saw those adorable puppies he couldn’t resist.
“Ann, do you have your checkbook?” he asked.
“Um, yeah. It’s in the car,” my mom said. I wanted to hold the sleepy puppy so we switched dogs. I could tell after we switched that my mom wanted the tired one back.
Joe said, “Alright, well, since you’re taking that one, I guess I should put this guy back in the kennel.” He took the Boss from my struggling mom. The “kennel” was really just a bunch of soiled newspaper with a metal fence around it. I realized now that the whole basement was sort of dumpy looking. It looked like there had been a giant flood down here. And it smelled like fish, too. Just then, a beagle to the height of my knees came running by, which is not that tall, by the way.
“This is the mom,” Joe patted the beagle’s back. She was way smaller than Sweetie, my old dog.
“Where’s the dad?” My dad asked. He wanted to make sure that these beagles were full-bred beagles. A look that I couldn’t read swept across the owner’s face.
“Um. Well. The dad actually belongs to a friend of mine. You know that one beagle that won on that Dog Show the other week? The dad looks just like him. What was his name, again?”
“Oh yeah, I know what you’re talking about,” my dad said. “His name was… um…”
“His name was Uno,” My mom said, and my dad nodded the “oh yeah” nod. Joe nodded, too.
“That’s right,” said Joe.
My mom went into the car to get her purse and get out her checkbook. She handed the book to my dad, and he wrote out the check. After he gave it to Joe, Joe looked relieved.
“Thanks,” he said. ”See ya guys around some time.” He walked- more like ran- up to his front door and went inside, without even giving us a chance to say good-bye.
Confused, we stumbled into my dad’s faded black pick-up truck. I got to hold the puppy in my lap since my parents were in the front seat, and I was in back. Besides, they knew I was dying to hold him. We all brainstormed ideas for his name on the way home, and the pup kept giving me tired, shy looks.
My dad wanted to name the dog Shep, but no one else liked that name. Since our other dog was named Mo, my dad wanted to name our pets after the Three Stooges. He even said that we should name our next cat Larry- which is a little strange for a cat name, but I wouldn’t mind.
When we got home, my brother still wasn’t there. My sister, Kate, was home though, and when my dad called for her, yelling that we got a puppy, she didn’t believe us.
“No, you didn’t,” Katie called as she walked out of her upstairs bedroom.
“Yea, we did,” I said, and once she walked out and saw the little “beagle” in my dad’s arms from the balcony. She said, “Awww,” and ran down the stairs and took him from my dad. We followed her outside.
“What are you guys going to name him?” she asked, cuddling with the puppy like a little girl, even though she was twenty.
“Well. I think ‘Shep’ fits him well,” My dad suggested as he sat down on the patio chair.
“Shep? No Dad,” my sister said and let the dog down on the grass.
“Be careful. Don’t let him get far,” my dad warned.
“I know.” My sister sat down next to the pup, who was only about five inches taller than the grass. “What about something like…” and she listed off a couple names; I don’t really remember what they were. But I remember that they didn’t really fit the puppy.
Since we didn’t really have any puppy toys (most of the dog toys were for Mo), my dad and I went to Critter Supply really quick. While we were gone, Kate found a website with a bunch of dog names on it and printed it out. Also, while we were gone, I realized that Curly would be a really good name because it was a part of Three Stooges, and it was also a cute name.
So, when we got home we paged through the few pages Kate printed out and I kept saying “Curly”, but my dad still had his heart set on “Shep”. Finally, though, after my mom and Kate starting realizing “Curly” was a cute name, too, my dad said okay.
Today, Curly has a bad kidney. He cannot get neutered because the anesthesia would kill him, without his kidney working properly. The vet says that he probably won’t live to be more than five or six years old and I find this really depressing. It also turns out that Curly isn’t actually a full-bread beagle. Remember the white, puff dog we saw in Joe’s driveway? That’s Curly’s dad. Curly is part American Eskimo Dog and Beagle. These two breeds mixed together are known as “American Eagle”, which is pretty cool.
Curly is a wonderful dog. He is really smart and does the “darndest” things. Even though he gets in trouble sometimes, for barking at the neighbors at 2 a.m., getting into the garbage, or eating up tissues again, you can bet that our house just won’t be the same when he leaves. Until then, I’m enjoying every moment I can with my year and a half old puppy Curly.