Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I've always been a sucker for brown eyes...

Our herd was born many years ago, when I met my husband. I quickly discovered that he was a cat person when we were on a walk one day and he stopped to talk to and pet every cat on the street, making this weird hissing noise that is supposed to be soothing to cats. I would spell it out but I really don't think there is a phonetic equivalent....

Now don't get me wrong. I love cats. There are two in particular that I would love to kidnap from their rightful owner and adopt as my own (and if you are reading this blog, you know who you are and you'd better lock your doors). But I knew from very early on that I had a choice to make: single woman with her very own dog or shacked up with a guy with good hair. Since I was busy climbing my way up the career ladder anyway, I chose the good hair, sensing that I couldn't give a dog the time and attention that he would need anyway. And besides, my husband has really, really GOOD hair...

But I am nothing if not persistent, and for nine years, I have chipped away at my husband's kitty resolve until finally, he gave in about two years ago and said, "Okay! When you finish your Masters Degree, you will have more time and we can get a dog." (Incidentally, this statement roughly coincides with the time that I started PVR'ing dog shows...)

I also began to research breeds. I needed a dog that could run with me, because I am one of these crazy people that run outside ALL YEAR LONG. Rain, snow, heat, cold, light, dark - you name it, I run in it. And my husband doesn't share my enthusiasm for running in sub-zero temperatures in the dark. And I know it is a gendered thing to say, but I am a girl.... Who runs by herself.... In the dark. Enough said.

It is my brother who first told me about the illustrious Australian Shepherd, a good-natured, medium-energy working dog bred to be active and in need of energy-draining activity. Like running! When I test-ran his Aussie, I was in love. So in love that I tried to convince him to let me have his dog. (But I wasn't done my MA yet at the time so my husband intervened...).

And so there I was back in March of this year, two weeks away from handing in my final major research paper, when I found myself filling out an adoption form for a regional Aussie rescue organization when I should have been reading the Gomery Commission reports. I asked for a two-year old girl with medium energy, preferably more on the submissive side, and good on a leash.

I got the Beast.

The Beast - when I met him - was 10 months old (which the rescue organization rounded up to "about 1"). The Beast is a "he". The Beast is on the higher end of the energy scale. The Beast pulled me like a yo-yo on our test-walk together. And while I didn't fully appreciate it on first blush, the Beast was no beta or omega. He was a good 'ole alpha dog... Oh, and the Beast is definitely not "just an Aussie." He has a typical Aussie bum (no tail, wags the whole bum when he's happy) and he has a goofy Aussie smile. But he has the face of a border collie - one of the more intimidating breeds of working dog - known for their insane intensity.

So I kind of wanted to say, "Thanks for letting us meet him. He's really cute. But he's not for us. He's too young." And then my husband crouched down to pet him and took a real good look at his eyes and said, "He has kind eyes."

So I took a closer look. And I almost drowned in these two incredible pools of deep brown love. And that is when I knew that no matter what challenges might lie ahead, this was our dog.

Besides, I had about 25 hours worth of dog shows to watch on my PVR that would surely teach me all that I needed to know about taking care of this dog.