I haven’t been writing enough to really talk about a lot of life changes going on at the Casa de Fear in the last year. Which sucks, really, on many levels. But I digress. In so many ways.
Back in mid-December, the wife finally assented to us boys and gave me the go-ahead to look for a family dog. I knew I wanted a German Shepherd, and especially an all-black or all-white one, if it were possible. Don’t laugh; I see them on Craig’s List from time to time.
However, that particular week there were only two German Shepherds in my semi-immediate area that were looking for new homes. I called on both immediately, but only one person got back to me. Apparently he’d had the ad up about a week or so and had a few people interested, but as I always note when dealing on Craig’s List, the flake ratio is unusually high. Such was the case for this dog and his owners.
The dog was living at a horse ranch in the valley behind our house, less than 5 miles away. I went alone to see him at first, since we hadn’t told the boys what us adults were up to. I arrived at the house and heard a couple of larger dogs in the area behind the house, and a couple of smaller dogs in the house. The couple had a pair of Jack Russell terriers who were indoor dogs, and then the Shepherd and a Black Lab mix who lived on the three acre backyard, amongst the horse corrals and exercise areas and such.
When the Shepherd came bounding over to meet me, the first thing I noticed was just how BIG this animal was. The wife and I had a Shepherd years ago, but Heidi was a smaller, 50 pounder. This creature was at least 100; the owners said he usually weighs in at 110. So, yeah, BIG.
But gentle, totally mellow with the tiny little Jack Russells, and they assured me that so long as he was wearing a pinch collar, he was docile on walks. The reason they were looking for a new home for him was that he’d become bonded to the horses, and was getting into their pens on a regular basis. Problem was, the horses weren’t so bonded to him, and they pointed out the scars and missing fur inflicted by the horses; their way of saying “Get OUT, fool.” They were afraid that eventually they’d come home and he’d be nothing more than a dark stain on the wall, if one of the horses ever kicked and connected. He’s too good of a dog to meet that fate.
I told them our family story and they apparently were impressed. Enough so that they were ready to load him up that night. Problem was, I was concerned how the Egg, my youngest, would respond to such a large dog. I didn’t want to take the chance of bringing him home, just to have to find ANOTHER home because my youngest lost his fool head. So I promised to bring the family over after school the next day.
We managed to keep things a secret until we were on the road going down the valley the next afternoon. The wife and I agreed that we should give them some clue as to what we were doing, just so that they could prepare themselves mentally. Our kids don’t deal well with surprises. So we made it a guessing game, and when they guessed, I thought they would throw open the van’s doors and run ahead of the car.
When we got into the back yard, I had to be very clear that we were there to see (and potentially bring home) the BIGGER black and brown German Shepherd, not the slightly smaller (probably 75 pound) Black Lab mix. Both boys immediately took to him, even though he was a little aloof about us. I made it clear that we all had to agree if we were going to take him home, mostly looking to how the Egg responded. He was 100% on board right away. He wasn’t worried about this animal that could almost look him straight in the eye, or that it weighed more than twice his own weight. Both boys were just transfixed that they were getting a dog!
We got him into the van, brought him home, and tried to communicate that he was now going to be a house dog (since we don’t have a three acre backyard). Mom had to make a run to the pet store to get dog dishes, food, and treats, and us boys just tried to get the dog acclimated to his new home.
One initial problem was the name: he’s five years old, but the previous owners called him “Fozzie Bear.” I couldn’t look at him and call him after a muppet, and honestly, the boys don’t really know who Fozzie Bear is (I know, bad parenting!). So while mom was gone, we started brainstorming new names. Tough to do, especially when the six-year-old gets stuck on the name “Biggie.” I tried “Mr. Bigs” but that didn’t fly either. Bacon wanted to call him “German,” but we vetoed that as well.
In the end, we wussed out on cool names, and went with “Buddy.” I know, it’s fairly generic, but it also fits him. He’s EVERYONE’S friend (people and dogs alike), he’s very laid-back and affable, and he’s not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.
After having him in our home and our lives for over 7 months, he’s been honestly the best dog I’ve ever had. The first thing we realized was, with the pinch collar on, even little 45 pound Egg could walk him without fear of the dog pulling free or dragging the kid down the block on his face. The previous owners trained that into him and I’m forever grateful for that.
Buddy rarely barks; it’s generally only when someone rings the doorbell or is hanging out in front of our house a little too long for his liking. On walks, he likes to greet other dogs of all sizes, but again, he never barks on walks. However, I’ve learned to tell people immediately, if not sooner, that he is a friendly marshmallow puff of a dog; between his size and his breed, I suppose he could take someone’s arm off if he had a mind to. It just never crosses his mind.
The final tidbit in the intro to Buddy is that he has really become my dog. Around the house, he tends to stay close to me, and he sleeps in our room most of the time. Now that I’m working at home, he’s typically curled up under my second desk, and I think mostly he’s holding out for either food or a walk.
He has made a tremendous impact in my life; I know the other family members love him too, for different reasons. But really, there’s nothing like having a good dog at your side. Or under your feet, as the case usually is.