One of my pet theories is that when selecting a four-legged companion, we humans only think we do the picking. I’ve seen this phenomenon in action more than once.
When I was eight and finding no magic in “trick” knees, my mother and I stopped by the local animal shelter on the way home from a pre-op meeting with the orthopedic surgeon. The place was run by the police department, and for much of my early life, specifically by my policeman father. It allowed him to work fairly normal hours and proved a good fit for a man who had a way with animals.
On this particular day we arrived as he and his staff had just finished flea dipping some newcomers. What I thought was a pile of black and white rags dropped on the floor near the tub suddenly stood up, shook off, and padded directly over to me. It was love at first sniff. The intrepid mutt wouldn’t stop following me as I limped around; and before my mother and I left, the begging began. My parents took pity on me, or maybe they figured the more the merrier — we already had a handful of beagles, and what was one more mouth to feed? Thus, Tiger, my first furry best friend and bosom buddy, came into my world at the perfect time, when I really needed a special companion.
Nearly 20 years later, my husband lived my definition of natural selection when we decided to adopt a puppy. As I ogled all the cute bouncy critters, the man who’d never had a dog wandered over to the most dignified canine on display and put his finger between the bars of the cage containing the 10 week old shepherd/husky mix. The discerning puppy gently claimed my husband’s proffered digit — and his heart.
The practically perfect Sir John truly was one in a million. After having him in the family for 16 years, he was a tough act to follow, and for well over two years we didn’t even try.
Then came our oldest child’s sweet 16. The only thing she wished for was a puppy of her own. And, it had to be a beagle. Serendipitously, a friend knew of a litter of beagle puppies in want of good homes. A week later Stripe chose our daughter. Of all her siblings and the people standing around enjoying the clumsy frolics of the long-eared, wrinkle headed babes, this one tenacious pup latched onto our daughter, clearly recognizing her human soul mate. To this day, the two continue to share a love of cuddling together and sweet, easy-going personalities.
A couple years after the advent of Stripe our shy middle child was struggling through life in a new school, in a new town 50 miles from all her friends and her comfort zone. Come December, our ever instinctive daughter played on parental guilt and persuaded us a buddy upon whom she could lavish love might possibly cure some of her loneliness.
The pickin’s at the animal shelter two days after Christmas were pretty slim, but as fate would have it, our daughter immediately spotted what I immediately termed an “alien dog.” The seven pound terror with oddly matched parts cast a mysterious spell on the child within seconds, and he became her guy. She’d not even consider any earthling dogs. And so another Girl and Her Dog love story was born.
I wanted to call him Humbug, but instead she named him Copper. Only moderately mellowed by early middle age, this odd little fellow’s still as alternately quick to overreact and endearingly loving as his mistress.
It was yet another match made in heaven, as ever it is when the dog does the choosing.
From her Woodsboro home base, Susan writes for both for both fredericknewspost.com and The Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.