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Going to the dogs

August 5, 2011
By BOB SEIDENSTEIN , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Last November, for reasons known only to The Great Spirit (if even it knows) I decided to get another dog.

My decision may have been a bit on the impulsive side but my selection process was not. First, I knew, generally, what I was looking for: A small, young adult female that liked dogs, cats and kids, was not a barker, knew some basic commands, and was housebroken. In short, The Perfect Dog.

I started at our local humane society, but no luck. Then I checked (a website that has listings from thousands of humane societies) and again no luck. After that, I found, a website that serves rescue organizations. There I found a trio of likely prospects, but only took special notice of one.

I read and reread her description. She had the improbable name Gillyanne and was a mixed breed rescued from a Tennessee kill shelter who'd been living in a foster home for six months. What specifically caught my attention was one word in her description - "awesome."

OK, I know "awesome" is the most overused and least accurately applied word in our vocabulary, as in, "Their iced tea is awesome." Or, "Dude, I just had the most awesome talk with cousin." Or even, "My new pen is like awesome!"

Thus, I was wary of a dog labeled "awesome." So I did the only thing I could - I called the dog's foster mother.

After the usual pleasantries, I started the interrogation.

"So, how would you describe her?" I said.

"She's just great," she said.

"She like kids?"

"Loves 'em. Loves everyone, in fact."

"She get along with dogs and cats?"

"Oh yeah, for sure."

Next I went on to the real deal breakers.

"Uh, is she um housebroken?" I asked.

"She is," said the lady, who then added, "she's had an accident or two, but that's it."

"She a barker?"

"Hardly at all."

"So does she have any bad habits?" I asked.

"Well," she said, "fuzzy blankets."

"How can fuzzy blankets be a habit?"

"She chews them. Eats holes right through 'em."

"Um, what exactly are fuzzy blankets?" I asked.

"You know," she said, "those polyester ones?"

I did know, and when I heard that I breathed a huge sigh of relief: All my blankets are wool and the only fuzzy thing on my bed is me.

I then asked about the least important quality of a rescue dog - its looks.

"I see she's listed as a mixed breed," I said. "But do you have any idea what the mix is?"

"We've listed her as a beagle/pug mix," she said.

Beagle/pug, I thought? Sounded like a cute combo.

Net profits and losses

We chatted some more, then I thanked her for her input and said I'd think about it. But at that point I knew I was adopting the dog. I'd asked about her looks, but didn't really care very much, because looking for a dog on the internet is the exact opposite of looking for a mate on it.

With internet dating, everyone says they want someone who's honest, tender, loving, loyal, devoted - all the spiritual values. But it's all a load of bumpf, because then they add all kinds of restrictions like, "No fatties, fundamentalists or Freemasons, no baldies, braniacs or Belgians must be between 40 to 46, 6' to 6'4", debt and disease-free," and on and on and on." In short, if you're the perfect person and you look like the perfect person, then maybe you'll get to take the poster out to dinner at some exclusive restaurant (your treat, of course).

But such snobbishness never happens with a rescue dog. You want to know the bottom line on a rescue, here it is: If a dog's gonna crap on the couch, kill the kitty, or crash through the screen door every time the mailman arrives, you wouldn't want it if it was the spitting image of Rin Tin Tin.

So I submitted the requisite paperwork, had my vet and the humane society vouch for my character and pet-ownership ethics and the next thing I knew I was in a parking lot in New Hampshire with a bunch of other adoptive parents, waiting for the animal transport truck to arrive. It did, and we stood there as they called our names and then brought out our dogs. Probably 15 people got called before me, then it was my turn.

The guy came out of the truck and handed over "my" dog.

"Wait a minute," I said, looking her over, "I'm supposed to get a beagle/pug combination."

He looked at the paperwork, and then at me.

"Yeah, right," he said. "A beagle/pug. See, it says it right here."

He pointed to the sheet, and sure enough there, under Gillyanne's and my name was her breed - "beagle/pug."

If it'd said, muskrat/terrier or weasel/daschund or even griffon/iguana, I wouldn't have been more surprised. But it didn't matter: Regardless of the little critter's ancestral status, her current status was mine. So I took her back home, introduced her to her new dog-and-cat family, named her Lulu. Then as time went by I simply enjoyed her sweetness, clowning anctics and even her looks.

But after our near-year together, no matter how much I've looked at her and tried to figure it out, I'm still clueless about what breeds she could be. And so is everyone else. I've even turned it into a game of sorts: Whenever someone asks me what kind of dog she is, I always say, "You tell me."

In fact, I've figured out only two things about her.

One is her ancestry is as mysterious and muddled as mine.

The other is she's an awesome dog.



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