Ever accident prone, Chris and I have accidentally adopted a puppy. This began as the idea of one of the teenagers we accidentally acquired sometime back.
“Let’s get a puppy!” she suggested.
“No and bleepity-bleep no!’’ we replied.
Still, the unwelcome idea, once spoken, burrowed away like a sinister termite, carving out more and more space in our consciousness. We’ve been down one dog since last August when the passing of Sydney left us with a lone elderly Border Collie named Alice. At 13 and a half, Allie is plagued with arthritic bones and is mostly blind and deaf, or else she is just tired of doing what we tell her to do. She is a sweet dog who has been an outstanding friend to us since we found her in the road in 1997. What she really didn’t want was a puppy, but we accidentally didn’t ask her.
All it took was the photos next to a little Facebook message: “Free Puppy.” Funnily enough, it’s just as potent a sales pitch on the Internet as it is in person. We were charmed by her pictures immediately. Soon, we passed the audition and she was entrusted to us by a man who rescued her from a bad fate on the Navajo Nation.
We decided to name her Nizhoni, Navajo for beautiful, to honor her roots. The teenager had other ideas, selecting Jolie, French for pretty. Obviously, we were all impressed with her looks. Nowadays, we mostly call her Jojo, one “jo” from each name.
Adopting a puppy is the dumbest idea ever, at least financially. She was about 3 months old when we got her, and now, two months later, our free puppy has cost us upwards of $600. This in spite of the fact that she inherited a leash, collar, dog bed, a pair of bowls and some grimy old toys from her forebears. She’s had three rounds of puppy shots, she has been spayed, she attends puppy school (along with us), and we have purchased a galaxy of new toys for her. In addition, we boarded her at a rollicking doggie day care while we visited Chris’s folks, and our Bactine and Band-Aid needs have skyrocketed.
Jolie is very interested in chewing. It’s her main thing. I don’t know what she would choose to gnaw on if we let her pick anything at all, but I know some of the main contenders. She loves to pull the dish towels off the rack and tear through the house with them in her sharp puppy teeth. She has ripped two of my shirts, both while I was wearing them. When she first came to us, she only weighed 6 pounds, but she could carry two of Chris’s size 13 shoes at one time and run so fast that I couldn’t catch her. I was in my 30s the last time we had a puppy, but now I’m in my 50s and with arthritic bones of my own, so maybe that’s not saying much.
Why do we do it? Why do people take in animals when they’re so much trouble, expense, and mess? The whole first quarter of 2011 I didn’t laugh as much as I laughed the first three days Jojo lived with us. She is a therapy animal. All of Jojo’s humans are better off and happier with her around, even though we curse her and yell. “NOooooooo!” dozens of times a day.
You pay your dues with puppies. With luck you’re rewarded with a lot of laughter in the short run and a well-mannered friend for the long haul. Love: that’s why we do it.
Barb Guy is a regular contributor to Tribune’s Opinion pages.