Thursday, January 26, 2017

Brody, The Big White Dog



We’ve had Brody, the Big White Dog, living at our house for three weeks . . . today. It’s been a learning curve. But we expected that. You don’t live with a mass of clean floors, boring quiet, and a sweet smelling lawn for a year without noticing some changes after a puppy shows up. It’s just that this puppy fooled us for the first week.

We picked him up at the pound two days after we won him in the Greatest Animal Rescue Raffle of All Time. He looked a little shell shocked. A week before, he had been a free agent, roaming the highways and byways of some street in Phoenix, when suddenly a concerned citizen saw him, reported him to Big Brother and, just like that, Brody was locked up behind bars in the Big House on Christmas Eve. You might think that snitch probably got coal in his stocking the next morning, but if I ever get to meet that guy, I want to shake his hand. He did us a favor.

This may turn out to be the best dog we’ve ever had.

But things got off to a rough start. Our seven-month-old yellow lab/German shepherd mix got neutered, inoculated with half a dozen vaccines, chipped, and handed over to strangers all in less than eight hours. He seemed in good spirits in spite of a pretty Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day—right up until we tried to convince him to jump up into the back of our Chevy Tahoe, directly inside the open door of a dog crate we’d brought with us. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Just in case during the hour long drive home a fifty pound Labrador tried to climb into the driver’s lap, we thought “containment” was a good option for a nervous animal who’d just spent the last week of his life in “containment.”

Not our brightest moment.

The three of us compromised, though, on a ride home on the floorboards behind the front seats where Brody behaved like a perfect gentleman and never once acted like a backseat driver. When we got home, he inspected his new place like a kid seeing Disneyland for the first time, overwhelmed by a basket of toys and too busy looking around to want to eat. Considerate of the beautiful condition of the backyard lawn, he chose instead to christen our living room carpet when nature called.

“Okay,” I admitted to my ever patient husband while I knelt on the floor and scrubbed at the soiled spot, “we’ve all learned something important today.”

“And what is that?” Rob asked.

“Brody’s not housebroken.”

But he adjusted quickly, tolerated his crate at bedtime, and never complained to the authorities about the way he was being treated. And then he got sick. Two days after he came to live with us, on a holiday weekend when even vets have locked up and gone home to be with their families, he went downhill fast. We didn’t know what was wrong, only that he had an intestinal problem, stopped eating and drinking, was clearly wasting away to skin and bones, and became lethargic.

Finally, when it was clear that something more than PTSD was affecting him, we found a nearby animal hospital that worked him in and learned that Brody brought home a souvenir from the pound.
  
Kennel cough.

This is nasty stuff. We’ve never seen it before. And we didn’t know he was coughing. We thought he was gagging. Who knew dogs don’t cough like people? He was sneezing like people, but I just thought he was allergic to our carpet. So he got the mother of all antibiotic shots while we bought fancy canned food and probiotics and more antibiotic pills and yummy pill pockets to hide the pills in and, three hundred dollars later, brought our pound puppy home to recuperate.

I’ve added up the costs of dry dog food and canned dog food, dog treats and dog toys, dog beds and a dog blanket, antibiotics and two vet bills, and so far our $60 pound puppy has cost us close to $800.00. I sort of overlooked the possibility of spending our kids’ inheritance on a dog when we decided to adopt another one.

But he got well. And then he turned into a puppy. A giant, fifty pound, creamy white puppy with a huge Labrador head and a German shepherd tail, feet the size of coffee mugs and an appetite the size of Clifford’s. He looks like he’s full grown until you peer into his deep, dark eyes and realize you’re staring into the mind of a toddler canine who has no idea that my red polished toenails are not tiny toys asking to be chewed on or that he’s four times too big for anyone to think of as a lapdog.

We’ve got our hands full over here. It’s awesome.

I’ve laughed more in the last three weeks than I have in the last two years. This dog is Hilarryous—I should have named him “Larry” for short. I’m pretty sure when they found him in Phoenix that he’d just run away from the circus. If we’re too tuckered out to play tug of war with him, he doesn’t care—he can throw a football and catch it mid-air in his mouth all by himself. He’s already chewed and gutted three and a half stuffed animals—yesterday he chewed the ear off of an innocent squirrel, but squirrels are tougher than elephants and giraffes. Those last two were drawn and quartered in just under thirty-two minutes the very first night.

He’s the reason we’re getting up off the sofa thirty more times a day than we did a month ago—because he’s learning how to stand at the back door when it’s time to pee instead of taking the matter into his own hands in our living room. He’s become our physical trainer. Walks in the park are no longer an option—they’re a necessity if we want this overactive roommate to burn off his energy with exercise instead of chewing up our furniture. And you should see us chase the ball for him! Labs fetch but they don’t share.

Everyone thinks it’s so great when you turn up your nose at dog breeders and go to an animal shelter to “rescue” a dog. But that’s just because they don’t know the truth. We didn’t rescue Brody.

He rescued us.

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