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Puppy Love at First Sight
I’d never been without a dog for too long before. Even on the day I first returned from the hospital, swathed in pink blankets and wearing my plastic ID bracelet, there were two fluffy, sunshine colored retrievers waiting for me with wagging tails when the infantile version of me arrived home. An enthusiastic Mom and Dad set down my little plaid adorned carseat and let the magic happen; I received puppy kisses before I received grandparent or aunt/uncle kisses.
My first word, even preceding ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, was ‘dog’. Boo and Kelly were my childhood, and it wasn’t until later I ever had to contemplate a life without dogs. After our third dog, Diamond, a monumentally clever and equally pigheaded Great Dane, died and left me without a furry companion for the first time, I thought the world might very possibly collapse in on itself around me. For several weeks at the end of the summer before my sophomore year I dragged myself through life on an angst-ridden path of loneliness. Without the viciously swinging tails, the affectionate and sometimes physic nuzzles, and the droopy, melty brown eyes, how was I to survive? Although it was really only a few weeks, I still remember that dog-less time as a long trek through a much longer and laborious period of time.
When we finally began our search for a new addition to our family, I bounced violently back and forth between excitement at having my faithful shadow restored and a feeling of betrayal towards Boo, Kelly, and Diamond. After what felt like years, Mom scheduled a meeting with a foster family who had a pit-hound mixed puppy named Sweet Boy (a name which we hated from the start) for us to see.
My stomach spitefully pounded an indent into the back of my throat, which I’m sure would still be there if I could look and survey the damage, during the entire drive over. We arrived at the house rocking back and forth on our heels and surreptitiously trying to conceal our excited, and probably vaguely maniacal, grins in an effort to avoid scaring away the foster family.
A short blonde woman opened the door and I was met with disappointment at the lack of puppy that was happening behind the screen porch door.
“Hello!” she said cheerfully and introduced herself as we were invited in. “Make yourself at home, my husband’s just out feeding Sweet Boy dinner.”
She proceeded to ask Mom questions about our previous dogs, the size of our house and a lot of other questions that seemed to be delaying the giant Moment of Truth, when we would lay eyes on the little pup.
“Now, I must warn you,” she started, once the interrogation bit was over. “He’s been terribly unresponsive towards all the other families who have come to see him. He’s extremely shy at first; but he’ll be great once he gets used to you a little.”
I braced myself, preparing for a timid little puppy who would hover away from us; instead, I was greeted by a decidedly non-timid little puppy who flung himself rather enthusiastically into my mother’s lap as soon as he was let into the living room.
While Sweet Boy was rolling happily about on Mom, I enjoyed the looks of complete astonishment on the foster couple’s faces as they watched him flop about in a pile of too long legs that he didn’t quite seem to have control of yet.
“He has never been like that before! He’s usually so shy!” the husband exclaimed.
When he had sufficiently introduced himself to Mom, the skinny puppy scampered my way, tripping in an ungainly manner into my knees. He was all poking bones and a gigantic head- his ears were the size of his adorably sad face. The prominent, wide set, drooping eyes reached in and squeezed my heart; there was no way I was leaving without this baby. I held him up to my face, giggling uncontrollably as my brother continued to ‘Awwww!’ in the background. Sweet Boy was so young that his entire body fit in one palm of my hand; I couldn’t help but let a few tears stream as he licked my cheek like I’d been his best friend since birth.
‘’But that name has got to go. I mean, Sweet Boy? Really?” Mom murmured as we cuddled him.
We left the house that night with one more member than we had entered. The puppy laid on my lap the entire car ride home, periodically yawning and stretching his tiny neck to look out the window.
The rest of us, when we weren’t busy admiring his cuteness, brainstormed new name ideas; because really, what kind of an evil person names a dog Sweet Boy?
“How about Knobbs?” I finally suggested, after many rejections of unfitting names. “Seeing as all he is a pile of knobby knees.”
“Knobbs. I like it,” my brother James mused.
“How would we spell it?” Mom wondered vaguely.
I left them to bicker over the correct number of Bs and Ks in Knobbs’ name, and lifted him up to eye level. He rested his chestnut forehead on the bridge of my nose, and I sighed in contentment at once more having a furry best friend by my side.