An Anne Arundel County dog is set to make his family proud this Sunday in the second-best national event airing on cable TV.
Not all of today’s news about dogs in Baltimore is heartwarming. Police say a 21-year-old man is wanted for killing four puppies and leaving them in a dumpster in South Baltimore earlier this month.
For most of our twenty-year marriage, my husband and I have been blissfully dog-free.
Over the years, we’ve been wholeheartedly unfazed by the dog craze that seems to have swept the nation, turning dogs into central members of people’s families. Dogs find their way into holiday card pictures. They’re sitting in the front seat of cars. They’re often referred to by their owners as their children.
I didn’t get any of it.
The smell and slobber of dogs, their incessant barking as I’d walk by their backyard or knocked on their owners’ doors—I found all of it annoying. My husband didn’t get it either. At least once a year, in the dead of winter, he’d comment about how ridiculous dog owners look as they stand patiently in the bitter cold while Fido takes his good old time doing his business. Then, of course, would come the final insult to man: picking up the hot squishy mess and carrying it home in a plastic bag. Needless to say, we had no plans to get a dog of our own.
Then, something weird happened.
It all started this summer, with a dog-sitting gig of my daughter’s. She was at the neighbor’s house between two and four times a day, and sometimes I or another member of our family would tag along. The two dogs were mutts: one was a young pup, the older on her last legs. But they shared a certain sweetness that I’d never encountered in four-legged species. They were always happy to see us, but they didn’t deafen us with their greeting. They looked at us knowingly after a while. They willingly took walks even in the height of the humid summertime. And they had a pretty neat effect on my adolescent daughter, too.
She’d been moping around for much of the summer, as pre-teens are prone to do. But she took her dog-sitting job seriously. It gave her day structure, meaning. I watched her adeptly maneuver two leashes simultaneously, even making it look simple. She was sweet to the dogs and, in turn, they took a real liking to her. Seeing the exchange planted a seed that I never thought would take root in my household.
You can probably tell where this is going.
Shortly after the pet-sitting gig, my kids and I developed a new pastime: we were glued to www.petfinder.com, poring over sweet puppies that needed good homes, oohing and aahing at the cute ones.
But adopting a puppy, I soon learned, was no simple task. So I assigned it to my daughter, figuring that if she was truly interested, she could do the leg work. To my surprise, she went at it full throttle. She filled out about a dozen puppy adoption application forms, emailed puppy rescue personnel, and waited for a response. It came sooner than I was prepared for.