It was a cold rainy day in the Sierra Nevada foothills, somewhere just west of Sonora, where we first met a few years back. It all started as a lark, as these things often do. Just something to do because we were all damn tired of looking at each other in the closed confines of the dark cabin.
The four of us had taken quite a while before we were ready to even think about getting another dog after our beloved Buck passed. (Anyone who’s known me for any length of time might still remember dear Buck’s writing as my alter ego.) So, it was a genuine surprise that the kids asked to visit the humane society and look at the dogs they had for adoption.
Good to kill a couple of hours, I thought. I should have known better; we never stood a chance.
The moment we walked in, she sat attentively, leaning against the chain-link fencing that separated the dogs from the people. Her big brown eyes never left us. Not as we walked toward her. Not as we walked around to look at her kennel mates.
Looking back, I think she knew she had us from the first look.
We talked with her. Walked outside together. Tested our chemistry.
The kids loved her immediately. The staff told us, in a very serious whisper, that she’d not had a happy young life. She’d been abused. She had some behavioral issues. She was fearful and sometimes aggressive. We had to be ready for that, had to be in it with her for the long haul. She’d be a great dog, they said, with a real family.
And so, we adopted Dee Dee.
From the first day, we noticed the odd quirks (She barks fiercely at UPS trucks but is perfectly fine with FedEX.), the anger coming out of nowhere (Dee Dee reacts violently to Giggy’s former pre-school teacher because, we assume, he has a beard.), the piggishness around bed space (It’s okay because I’m flexible and, heck, I can always sleep in the shape of a pretzel if I have to.).
She’s been part of the family now for about five years. Her neuroses have, if not completely disappeared, moderated a lot. I can’t imagine walking at Fort Funston, or going up to the mountains, or even sitting down in the evening without her.
We may have given her a loving family, but she’s given us plenty in return. Which we knew from the day she adopted us.