Saturday, October 23, 2010

Dog's Best Friend

Last week, my next-door neighbor's dog bit a chunk out of my leg. I was supposed to take care of him for the weekend, and despite my neighbor's insistence that he would not mind me coming into his house, he seemed to have a problem with it after all. One week and a tetanus shot later, Finn the Dog survived the weekend with the help of another neighbor, my leg is healing nicely, and my next-door neighbor only avoids me 99% of the time. All is well.

We have been planning to get a dog for awhile, but the timing has never been right. First, we were living in NYC, and then a rental home. Now we are in our own home, but Asher has eczyma and we were advised by our pediatrician to put off pet ownership for a couple more years. We had two very fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants unplanned and unprepared pregnancies, but we have planned out the timing of our first dog for several years, complete with Internet research, physicians advice, and colorful Excel spreadsheets.

Growing up, my four sibs and I always had an interesting array of pets around the house, mostly named after Portland Trail Blazers and characters from The Simpsons. But we never had a dog. Maybe it was after Clyde [Drexler] the Bunny met an untimely death when his water bottle was knocked over in the middle of our July vacation, my parents decided that a dog probably wasn't safe in our house. Puddles the Turtle could always hide away in his shell when the balls came abouncin' and fists came aflyin'. Bart and Maggie the Birds had a cage between themselves and the Action. A dog in our house wouldn't stand a chance. And despite our constant begging, my parents never gave in to us.

So, instead, we adopted the next door neighbor's dog. Sham was a friendly, active Golden Retriever who quickly grew to love us (at least we would like to think so) as much as we loved him. Our poor neighbors, the W's. The badgering we put them through....."Can Sham play?" "Can I take Sham for a walk?" "Can I feed Sham my Twinkie?" I would have built a REALLY big fence between our houses. Their love and patience with all five of us from toddlerhood through teenagedom still amazes me. They made Sham feel like he was our dog, too.

In fact, I think I told people that on occasion. "Do you have a dog?" "Well, yeah...uh...sort-of. He doesn't live with us all of the time, he lives next-door a lot, but I play with him and take him on walks and everything. Yeah, I totally have a dog."

And then, we had to say goodbye to Sham. Sham was a big, active dog, and our neck of Portland was becoming more citified by the day. Our neighbors decided that he needed more room to romp and found a nice farm family who would take him in. On the day he left, all five of us waved goodbye through our front window, noses scrunched against the tear-stained pane of glass.

Thinking back, maybe our neighbors were just tired of taking care of "our" dog for us. Or maybe Sham ASKED to leave because he didn't like me? Perhaps I'm a friend of dogs, but they're no friend of mine.

1 comment:

queenie said...

I cannot tell you how long I researched dogs! I had every detail down to a science. In the end, captain jack, our gentle giant, came to us in the least unexpected way. We hadn't planned it, but it worked out perfectly. "Adopting" neighbors dogs is so much cheaper :)