May 14th 2011 10:37 am
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Nicknames are horrendous or wonderful things, depending on who you’re talking to and the nickname they’re given. I’m a firm believer in nicknames; because I’m too lazy to say anyone’s full name and, let’s be honest, nicknames are so much fun. Out of all the dogs I know, Frodo has the most nicknames, and all of them are given to him by be. They range from Frodo to Red Butt (why this dog chooses to turn red only on his rump, I’ll never know) and cover everything in-between. Sometimes, I find it hard to believe that I even have another dog to give nicknames to.
Like all teenagers searching for that stereotypical “it’s my life, I’ll do what I want, why do you hate me, blah blah blah” moment, I began to plan out my life. It was a good plan, because it was such a bare plan. I really only planned out my next dog. I would get it when I went to college, when Bilbo was old, grey, and farting in his sleep (well, more than he does now). I was pretty adamant about this plan, and didn’t see it changing in the future. My mother barely enjoyed having Bilbo around- there was no way she would think about adding a second dog to the mix.
Which leads us to the beginning of the school year…I was strolling through the thrift store of my mom’s work with my friend. A typical teenage girl would’ve been upset by the fact that her mom not only presented herself to her best friend, but also had the AUDACITY to interrupt a shopping session. I, however, have a much more hip parent than my friend and I was shopping in a thrift store…which I visit weekly…there was nothing new or remotely interesting there. However, I could not stop my mind from jumping to the most logical question of the moment: what the hell did I do wrong? It was kind of like that social experiment where someone asks a victim what they did wrong and, eventually, they’ll confess to something they never did; my mind was frantically searching for any wrongdoings, and the writer in me was making up excuses to go along with each and every thing.
I tried to put up a strong front, and managed to smile at my mom as my friend and I entered her office, but my voice gave my fear away: “H-hey..”
I am not the type of person to make eye contact when I’m in trouble. I feel like someone is about to smack me into a wall or go all crazy and I’ll have no choice but to go all Tangled on them and whack them with a frying pan. So, my eyes began to wander around the room. For those that don’t know: I’m a reader. I read just about anything put in front of me, so it was only natural that my eyes were attracted to the computer screen. Instead of seeing the usual work crud, my eyes landed on the picture of a fat Beagle. I’m not talking Bilbo fat, where the dog is just beginning to round out. I’m talking overstuffed sausage fat.
My mom’s voice brought me back to the real world. I can only imagine what my faced looked like (young child presented with a personal candy store, anyone?) when she said that she, and my step-dad, had decided that I had earned another dog. My only thought at that moment was along the lines of ‘Thank God she never sees Bilbo acting natural’.
It turned out that the Beagle on the screen, which my mom had been considering getting from a friend’s sister, was not a good fit. Said friend called my mom and told her not to get the dog. It wasn’t housetrained, it didn’t come when called, you know the drill. The real deal breaker: the dog bit kids. With two young kids in the house, a dog that couldn’t tolerate them just wouldn’t work. That was when our search turned to Petfinder.
When I had made my plans, I was thinking about going to a breeder. I was thinking about getting the best of both worlds and taking in an older dog someone had to give up, but we’re not rich, and adoption was what we could afford. Though, I’m not complaining. Most agencies here are decent and there are some real nice dogs close by. I immediately fell in love with a German Shepherd pup, but my mom did not want one; after nearly being bit in the face, she had some fear left over. After two weeks or so of looking, my mom decided that we could go to Petsmart. It was a Saturday, and we figured that they would be holding an adoption day.
Imagine our disappointment, after loading up two kids and a dog AND driving half an hour to the store, when we realized the adoption day was the next week.
Like most upset Americans, we began to drive to a fast food restaurant, to drown our sorrows in sorrows concerning heart attacks and fat rolls. My mother suddenly recalled a shelter nearby, so we ended up getting directions and driving to it. There were quite a bit of people there, and it was hard to move the stroller through the narrow rows between the cages. My mom rooted for some of the older dogs, but I wanted one younger than Bilbo. For a moment, nearing the end, I thought that there wouldn’t be any dogs in that shelter and I’d go home to crack out on the computer, surfing Petfinder and squealing whenever a cute dog popped up.
But, no…instead, we stopped before the cage of an eight month old Lab mix. He was pressed up against the cage door, silent and unfazed by the barking dogs around him. His name was C.W. My mother had me ask a volunteer to take him out so we could see him up close. The volunteer let me walk him outside; he pulled a bit, but he wasn’t pulling towards anything outside. He didn’t care about the other dogs running around. He only cared about people, getting petted and falling over his ridiculously long limbs. As usual, my siblings didn’t stay around for long, but the few moments that they did come over to see the dog were good. He didn’t snap, he didn’t growl; he just rolled over and looked up at the sky, as if he was getting some insanely fantastic massage.
Next came the big test: how did he handle Bilbo?
The volunteer said that C.W. got along fine with other dogs, but we preferred to have them meet on neutral ground, rather than having a dog randomly run into the house and tackle our easily irritated Beagle (he’s like an old man, I swear). They did great together! Fur stayed flat; there was no snarling, no trying to run away. Bilbo liked him enough to tolerate a minute long butt sniffing, before immediately trying to destroy my pocket and get all the treats I had out.
I wanted to take him home right then and there.
I totally forgot I had a step-dad.
My mother liked C.W., though, and put down a deposit for a 24 hour hold. The next day, I would come back with my step-dad. If he liked the dog, we would get it.
We ended up doing what most Americans do when excited: we went to a fast good restaurant to gorge ourselves. A good day isn’t complete without bloat. My mother called my step-dad and he ended up asking me a simple question: Did I like the dog? Or did my mom convince me to like it?
I liked the dog.
“Go get him.”
Only a half hour after putting the money down, we drove back. My mother went in to pick up the dog and, as she came out, she chuckled a bit and said, “We came on the right day. There was a couple coming in to look at him again.”
It’s probably a hint to my insanity that I felt a bit of glee, because we had gotten the prize, but I never tried to play sane.
We ended up changing the dog’s name. He became Frodo Baggins.
Frodo certainly isn’t the dog I had in mind for my second one. I wanted to do agility for sure in the future; I wanted an easy to train, freakily intelligent dog. What I got was a dog that enjoyed barking at home more than he did at the kennel; what I got was a dog that decided having a baboon inspired butt was awesome; what I got was a dog that, well, was a bit dull.
I’d be a liar if I said I loved Frodo right away. He got on my nerves at times, but I came to see his flaws as what made him Frodo. Sometimes, I still get slightly irritated, and I wish I was in Harry Potter so I could just bewitch him to know all the cues he needs to know. But, whenever that happens, I think back to all of those times where Frodo’s true colors shined.
You see, Frodo is going to be a therapy dog someday.
The most memorable event happened when my friend and I were walking the dogs along the river. We ended up resting at a picnic table. An older lady stopped by and asked to pet my dogs; Bilbo, being Bilbo, was not interested. But Frodo immediately pressed up against her leg. For once, my hyperactive dog was quiet. His eyes were closed as the lady told us about the river, the town, and how it all used to be. Her topic switched to Frodo at one point, and then to how grateful she was that we (Frodo, my friend…all of us at that table) had listened to her.
No, I didn’t get a dog that’ll be an agility star. I didn’t get a dog that’s so smart everyone will want to see him on the telly.
But, I did get a dog that attracts people. I did get a dog that lets people relax, and simply talk.
Better yet, I got a dog that listens.