If you know me, or at least read this blog, you know of my incredible love for my dog, Falcor the Real Boy (pictured above). Some may even call it an ‘obsession’ or ‘unhealthy fixation’, but those people just don’t know the joy that the Real Boy brings with his expressive looks, playful gait, loving cuddles and sound fiscal advice. So it came as a shock to many of our friends and family when we up and got another dog. But if the new addition to our family seems sudden, rest assured that it was months, maybe years, in the coming and even after we met the Real Girl, we felt trepidation. Would Falcor be sad? Feel betrayed? Would it be unfair to the new dog? Could we even have any love for a new dog when our current dog is canine perfection? My mom and sister, showing some eerie genetic synchronization, both uttered the words “But I don’t know if I have enough love for another dog!” when I told them the news. Trust me ladies, I hear you. Dave was even more hesitant than I was, if only because he is more practical and less prone to dramatic gestures towards unwanted creatures. And so, on a fateful Wednesday, my lunch break found me wandering through an SPCA fundraiser downtown. Crate after crate of sad dog lined the parking lot, and I had the urge to sell all our worldly possessions and move to a farm where we could keep dozens of them. We’d need a really big bed though, because we have a strict one-bed-for-all-family-members policy, but I wasn’t thinking that far ahead.
I called Dave and, as expected, he began to feel very conflicted. Those animals need love and homes and treats and walks in quantities that just aren’t available at the SPCA, despite the amazing and heroic efforts of all the wonderful people who work there. Truth be told, the story is the same at every shelter across the country (SPAY and NEUTER your pets already!), there are people doing the best they can with what they have for too many animals. And animal lovers like ourselves want to think that we can do at least a little bit by taking an animal from the shelter to our house, where we can obsess over it while it stares at us with a confused look and a cocked head. Even more compelling was the fact that we found Falcor at this same shelter two and a half years ago, and it was the best thing to happen to us. Wouldn’t it be logical to think that another wonderful dog could be living in this same place?
On the other hand, Falcor the Real Boy holds a very high rank in our house. He is treated like a person, spoken to like a person, sleeps in bed like a person. He gets more belly rubs and walks than the average dog could ever dream of having. We give him credit for extremely complex thoughts and emotions that I’m not sure are even scientifically possible for a canine. We were afraid that one of those complex emotions would be sorrow, because he would somehow think the new dog was a replacement, which would lead him to having feelings of inadequacy. We didn’t want him to feel threatened or unloved. We have a mental illness.
So we walked around the fundraiser over analyzing the meaning of each movement of the dogs. We even took two out of their kennels and walked them around. We even went so far as to choose one, get in line, and have our application approved. But in the last moment, Dave’s cold feet spoke up and he suggested, wisely, that we risk losing the dog we had chosen and wait a day to bring Falcor to the SPCA the next day. If he met the dog and hated him, the case would be closed. We decided he deserved, after these years of loyal service, at least a say in the matter.
The next day we nervously drove to the SPCA. Nervous that we’d find a dog we liked. Nervous that we wouldn’t. Nervous that Falcor would remember the place somehow and think we were returning him, subsequently dying of a heart attack. Mixed emotions, to say the least.
Dave waited outside with Falcor at the entrance to the fenced-in grass area where dogs can meet. I went inside to discover that the dog we had looked at the night before was gone. Another family found and adopted him, which is good news for the dog, but put me in a pickle. Is this a sign that we don’t need another dog? That it’s not time? Or simply that he wasn’t the right one and the other one is waiting for me in the kennels? My bleeding heart led the way and I went out to check if there were other potential candidates…I mean we did drive all the way there. I made a list of SEVEN dogs that were potentially our new dog. And I ranked the list by sadness. The saddest looking dog, who wouldn’t even come to the front of the kennel when I called her, got put on the top of the list. (In case you don’t know, we chose Falcor because he was the saddest dog in the kennel, with no apparent will to live. Since it worked out, I used the same strategy again.)
When I showed up with this dog Dave was a bit surprised, firstly because it wasn’t the dog we had agreed on the night before, and secondly because she looks like Falcor’s long lost sister. Falcor put on his best self and warmed up to her immediately. They sniffed and snorfled and ignored each other. It seemed like an amicable enough start. But when, after investigating the surroundings a bit, Falcor began his playful teasing called “Little Barry Sanders” that he normally reserves for special occasions, Dave was sold. And so was I. We signed the papers, paid the unbelievably modest $76.50 for the dog (including recent spaying, shots, bag of food and a leash) and went on our way.
The days since have gone better than we ever could have imagined. Enid, named after the abandoned and underestimated middle name of my best friend Jess, fits in with our routine perfectly. She sleeps soundly through the night, under the covers, just like her brother. She walks with the same happy saunter. She loves to indulge Falcor in his desire to be chased. She likes watching T.V. with Dave and I. The dog park brings out the best in her. She hasn’t peed in the house even ONCE (knock wood). And she’s a bit of a daddy’s girl, which balances out the well-known fact that Falcor is a momma’s boy. She’s about the same age of Falcor, but instead of spending the last two years being loved like crazy, she’s been on the mean streets giving birth to at least two and probably more litters of pups, and she has the saggy nipples to prove it. Her life has been harder, but she’s just as cheerful (and pouts even less) as Falcor.
We make sure to show Falcor that he is still the top dog. He gets his food two beats before she does, walks out for walks and in from the yard first, to maintain the rank. He gives her a growl if she gets too close to his bone, and she respects his warning. Not only does he not mind her presence, he seems to enjoy her company. They play together, sleep together, and he defends her honor at the dog park if another dog gets a little too curious about her saggy lady parts.
Just days after her adoption, it seems silly to think we were worried that we wouldn’t have enough love for another dog just because Falcor is so sweet. But when you think about it…I was an unreal kid, but my parents popped my sister out and somehow managed to love us both! And where would I have been without her? Lonely, that’s where. And now I realize that Falcor can avoid only-child-loneliness with Enid around, aided by the fact that we made a conscientious effort to choose the right dog and introduce her the right way.