Tuesday, April 10, 2012

One Year of Kale

About 13 months ago, I received a phone call that changed my life.

A nice lady named Barb called, in response to an e-mail I had sent her.

She is a Flat-Coated Retriever breeder, and I wanted to see if someday in the future she would give me one of her puppies. Flat-Coat breeders are notoriously picky about who they sell their puppies to.

Her happy voice asked for me, and then said something that made me sit down, hard. "Well, I just happen to have a litter on the ground right now!"

Here's the thing...I had an 8 month old, and a toddler, and a husband who was never home. I had a mother-in-law and, well, everyone else in my life who was vehemently opposed to me getting a puppy. And I hadn't even asked them their opinion yet. I was thinking that it would be at least a year before Barb would have a litter where I could get a puppy. And here she was, telling me that she had 12, TWELVE, puppies that were 4 weeks old and in need of good homes.

Eeks. I couldn't say no. I was afraid that if I said no, she would never give me one. But here is the thing. Even though everything in my life was so hectic and busy, I was ready for a puppy. I was ready to have Fonz mentor a cute little ball of fur into something wonderful.

And so I said yes. And four short weeks late I brought him home.

He was so little! But not that little. He was so cute! But not cute enough to not get mad when he chewed up my flip flops. He was so good at sitting! No, really, he was really good at sitting.

In the past year, I think both my parents and my in-laws have wanted to both kill and disown me for bringing this disruptive little thing into their lives. From chewing on EVERYTHING in my mom's house, to repeatedly running through the screen door at my in-laws, he was a puppy, through and through.
"How can you get angry at something so cute??"

But over the past few months, something awesome has transpired.

He has turned into a truly wonderful dog.
"What...I wasn't always this angelic?"

Sure he likes to bark at the guys mowing the golf course in our back yard.

Sure he still has gone through my in-laws screen, again and again.

Yes, he recently chewed up my favorite pair of flip flops.

And don't even get me started on his food obsession.

"Peanut butter? Yes please."

But he is currently sleeping on my office floor. He stays right with me whether in the house or in the yard. When we are playing outside in Michigan, he always has Charlie in his sights, watching over her. Yes, is it possible that is he is simply waiting for her to get some food and drop it or give it to him, but he is the next best thing to Lassie for her. If me or Charlie are not around, he still won't run away. Mainly because he knows that our house is where he gets fed. And that is what is most important.

That stick was hers 10 seconds ago.
I have two big dogs that my kids aren't afraid of. The girls are constantly knocked over and pushed around and they think nothing of getting back up and dusting themselves off and continuing on with life. They know how to "share" food, how to feed and walk the dogs, and yes...how to pick up poop. 

And for his part, Kale is absolutely wonderful with kids. He is gentle and as considerate as a one year old dog can be. He doesn't nip or growl, he lets them pet him and step on him and lay on him and take toys right out of his mouth. He is always up for a game of fetch or a romp in the yard or a walk in the woods. He is turning out to be the dog I had hoped he would be.

He snuggles with me on a nightly basis, something that Fonz never really liked to do. He tolerated it because it was something I loved, but he got away as soon as he could.
"My bed, my pillow, my spot." 

Kale respects the old man of the house, but gets him riled up and playful too. He is keeping my old man young. 

Long story short, Barb knew that I sounded like a good home. The statistics may have not been the best (young kids, full time job, etc), but I sounded sincere, and I sounded like I knew what I was getting myself into. The timing actually worked out OK, because I am glad that this coming summer I have a moderately well-trained dog instead of a rambunctious little puppy. And thanks to our favorite doggie daycare, Kale is a fantastically socialized guy, one who I trust around just about any other dog. 

It's been a hell of a year. But given the choice, I'd do it all over again. We love you Kale!

He's a happy dog, I swear!! 

No comments: