But I also said that my next dog would be a non-shedding breed. I said it would be no larger than Butch and Kadi, preferably even a little smaller, but not as small as Lucy and Oliver. Lucy and Ollie sometimes tangle themselves around my feet when I'm walking, so I need a dog large enough to make its presence known. I said I wanted to get a third dog soon, because if Kadi should die before Butch, which is likely, he'd be lost without a canine assistant.
I've mulled over all these dog criteria for a long, long time, thinking I'd know what to do when the time became right. I've thought about them almost obsessively since mid-November, when I began to fall in love with this guy:
Photo by Jennifer Rives
It's a one-sided Internet romance; I've never met him in person. He's a few days shy of five months old, definitely still a puppy. He'll probably grow to be near Butch's size, in the neighborhood of fifty pounds, but nobody knows for sure. Yes, he's a male. He'll have to be housebroken at the time of year when my backyard is at its muddiest, and if he's anything like Butch and Kadi were, chewing will become his reason for living in the next few months. The good news is that he's supposed to be good natured, smart and easy to train, and he'll shed very little. And I guess it's because of how much I love Butch and Kadi that I just have some kind of a "thing" for big yellow dogs.
My niece raises Goldendoodles, a deliberate cross between a Poodle and a Golden Retriever. One night in November, just before bedtime, I saw the above picture that she had posted on Facebook, and I sent her a message asking for more information about him. In the middle of that night, when I woke up to take Butch and Kadi outside, my first thought was, "What the hell am I thinking?" I came back in the house and sent an immediate follow-up message, something along the lines of "Never mind sending the info; I've come to my senses and I'm not ready for this."
But that was then and this is now. In the meantime I've seen more pictures of him, and each one has tugged at my heartstrings more than the last. My two daughters, whom I've always encouraged to use their heads, have respected that I was using mine, but they've subtly urged me to follow my heart in this matter.
Two weeks ago I began thinking about what I would name this dog if he were mine, or what I would name the one just like him that I would get sometime in the future when it was the right time to get another dog. I settled on the name "Levi." Of course, Levi wouldn't be appropriate for the female dog I planned to choose.
Naming this dog made me want him even more. I could imagine rubbing Levi's belly or throwing a tennis ball to Levi in the yard. I could imagine dealing with Kadi's attempts to correct Levi when he breaks the rules. Levi began living with us in my imagination, though I'd made no more real-life inquiries about him.
I thought for sure someone would buy him, at which point my obsession would end, but Monday night, there he was on Facebook again, the last of his litter of five, in need of a forever home by Christmas. He was no longer just for sale, he'd been discounted, and a couple of my niece's Facebook friends were showing interest. I realized that I was sitting by and watching my dog be sold out from under me.
So I made the phone call. I had lots of questions, and my niece patiently answered them all. I explained that I wouldn't be able to make the six-hour round trip to get him until the week after Christmas, and she said she doesn't mind keeping him a little longer while we work out the logistics of getting him from her home in East Texas to mine in Southeast Louisiana. We made a deal.
Sometime next week, Levi is coming home. I hope Butch and Kadi will understand.