Once upon a time there was a young girl living far, far away from home. She was lonely and unemployed, depending on another for food and shelter and companionship. That’s an awful lot of pressure to put on one single person, especially one who was often away from home on deployments. She was so lost and needy, a puppy seemed like the perfect solution. It would be a distraction, it would be someone to love, someone to talk to during the long days.
She found a group of amazingly dedicated dog people, people who treated their animals with the respect and kindness they deserve1, people who opened her eyes to the true cost of those pet store puppies. Armed with this new knowledge she drove to a nearby Humane Society to find the puppy of her dreams.
There were two maternity pens filled with little, wiggling, brindle-colored, lumps of love. She stood and looked at them but no one of them spoke to her heart. Sensing her hesitation, the shelter worker suggested that she look at the pens of adult animals in the rear. She told her that there was a young, female English Springer Spaniel in the back which was exactly what the girl had wanted!
They went out back and headed straight to see this little girl in need of a home but it wasn’t an English Springer Spaniel at all. It was a Brittany Spaniel, which are perfectly lovely dogs, but not what she had been hoping for. This particular young dog was a whirling, spinning, bouncing ball of energy and completely overwhelmed the young girl looking for her first dog. She would make someone a lovely pet but she would need a great deal of training.
The shelter worker encouraged her to look around and left her to walk from pen to pen. Each pen was full. There was so much excitement and happiness in those pens, they were all so thrilled to see her. She could hear them begging, “Pick me! Pick me!” What started out as a fun and exciting trip suddenly seemed so much harder. How could she pick?
She hit the next to last run in the hall and turned to retrace her steps, there was no excited, barking dog in that last pen…it was empty. On an impulse she peeked in the run, though, and saw the saddest, little red dog sitting in the back of the pen. He was pressed against the concrete wall, his ears laid back, his face turned away. He looked pretty sketchy, to be honest.
She turned and continued her trip through the rest of the shelter. The shelter worker pulled dog after dog from the pens and let her take them in the yard to play. After an hour, she was covered in dog hair, her arms were scratched from the over enthusiastic play attempts, she was exhausted and she still hadn’t found the one. Every time she returned to the kennel building she peeked at that sketchy little dog in the last run. He never once turned to look at her.
She felt guilty for writing him off, she finally asked the worker about him. He was new, he’d just been turned in that morning by his owner. They didn’t know his name or how old he was. They had just been handed his leash and his owner had left. Reluctantly, she asked the worker if they could take him outside.
When the worker unsnapped his leash in the fenced yard he took off as fast as his legs could carry him, much to the girl’s disappointment. All the other dogs had been eager for attention. She squatted there on the ground and watched him race to the furthest point of the yard where he squatted to pee and pee and pee and pee. He stopped long enough to poop twice and then he peed again. When he was finished, he kicked his feet out happily behind him, turning in a circle as he did it. He looked like he was dancing. Then he turned his smiling face toward her and raced straight to her with his astounding, gravity defying ears perfectly erect. He was the one, she knew it now. She never once doubted him again, he was hers, she was his…this was her heart dog.
It took a few days for Copper to reveal his name to me, I know it sounds silly but we tried on dozens of names until we hit on one he responded to immediately. He has been the keeper of my secrets for many, many years. One of those secrets was this…there were two things I wanted to give him more than anything…a yard to play in and a little boy of his own. I knew he would love them both. I was wrong on the yard, Copper would much rather lounge on the couch than play in a yard but I was right about the other…he loves his little boy.
- a few of them are still friends these many years later [↩]