Thane and I got our first dog, Shuvik, a year before we got married. We had just started living together after several years of a very tumultuous relationship, so perhaps she was the first real sign of our commitment to each other, not that we saw her that way then. To our 23-year-old selves, she was simply the perfect little bundle of fur we needed to help fill our cold Fairbanks cabin. She remained the most perfect dog ever.
Fifteen years and many adventures later, it was time for Shuvik to leave us. Her hearing was gone, she was incontinent, and a few minutes of bouncing around the yard like a puppy left her collapsed on her bed for hours. The final straw was when we discovered one morning that she couldn't get up. There was something wrong with her equilibrium, and every time she tried to stand she got dizzy and fell. The vet said he had a pill that might help for a few weeks, but it just wasn't worth it. After years of stuffing Rimadyl pills down her throat for arthritis, a task she always hated, we weren't about to make her suffer through such an additional indignity. With tears streaming down our faces, we said goodbye and held her while the vet gave her a final shot.
How do you replace perfection? That's the question we've asked repeatedly in the nine years since she died. With the memory of our first furry love always present, not to mention lives that just kept getting busier and more committed, we never thought it was worth trying to find a new canine friend. Rowan has occasionally asked for a pet, and I've often wanted a hiking/running/skiing/etc. companion, but there was no overwhelming impetus to adopt. Having one more thing to take care of just seemed like one too many.
Last week, however, the right opportunity seemed to present itself. The Valdez Animal Shelter took in a litter of six husky-mutt puppies, four girls and two boys. They were 10 weeks old, and all perfectly adorable. They met all of the criteria we'd loosely established: husky-mutt, female, local, in need of rescue. A further nudge from fate - they share my birthday, December 2.
Rowan and I couldn't resist - we went in to meet them. I had to fill out an adoption application before we could even play with them. We met two little girls, and said, yes, we're interested in getting one. Yesterday, just over a week later, I picked up Scout on my lunch break.
I think we may have found a winner. Not that she has to be perfect for us to keep her, but I think Scout might come close. In our short acquaintance, she's already learned that it's not okay to jump on me, she hasn't tried to get on the furniture, she's been mellow (but not too much so), and she doesn't demand constant attention. I think she's smart and going to be fairly easy to train. The only thing that keeps her from being an ideal husky is that she has just a little stub of a tail. The shelter attendant said the vet didn't know if it was because she was born that way or if it froze and her mother bit it off. I'm inclined to think the former because one of her littermates also has a stubby tail. We'll spend the rest of her life explaining that anomaly, but I think we can handle that strain.
I still have some hesitations about taking on more responsibility in our lives, but I'm confident the rewards will far outweigh the burdens. A little more love is always a good thing.
Welcome to the family, Scout!