Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Surprised By Rosy

So yesterday, Jeff planned to take James to school and then do the grocery shopping for the month all by himself. But on a whim, I decided to go with him. So Jeff, Jonathan and I all dropped James off and went shopping.

We didn't quite stick to our plan of being done shopping by the time James was ready to be picked up, so we got him from school and headed to Costco.

But before we went to Costco, we grabbed some dollar burgers from McDonald's. We *always* go through the drive-thru, but for whatever reason, yesterday we decided to park and eat inside - at a McDonald's that didn't even have a play place! All it had was a little video game kiosk stuck in one corner.

That little kiosk, however, certainly piqued the boys' interest. They ran right over to it after they finished their hamburgers and discovered one of the terminals had Lego Star Wars II! We have that game at home, so they knew just what to do.

Located conveniently next to the kiosk was a black leather love seat, which Jeff and I plopped into as we waited for the boys to have some game time. On an end table next to the couch happened to be that day's paper.

Jeff picked it up and began perusing. Classifieds. Boring. I searched for the comics. But pretty soon, Jeff leaned over to me and read, "Free Golden Retriever puppy. Four months old. Our son (bless his heart) brought her home without permission, and now she needs to find a good home."

We've been talking about getting a Golden Retriever puppy for about a year, and James reminds us of that fact about once a week or so.

"I can't wait to get my puppy."

"Mom, when are we going to get our Golden Retriever puppy?"

"When our Golden Retriever puppy comes, she can sleep with me."

"Will our Golden Retriever puppy have to stay in the yard?"

"Mom, you said we were getting a Golden Retriever puppy, remember? So when are we getting it?"

The reply has always been, "Soon, my love."

To a six-year-old boy in love with dogs, this is a highly unsatisfactory answer.

So after squinting at the classified ad for a second, I snatched my cell phone out of my purse and punched in the given number. Then I got shy to talk to a stranger, so I handed my phone to Jeff and said, "Will you talk to her?"

He nodded, putting my phone to his ear. After several seconds, he hung up. "They're just not answering their phone anymore. I'm sure that puppy is long gone."

Oh well.

I went back to the comics.

Then Jeff leaned in again. "10 Golden Retriever puppies, almost 7 weeks old, 5 males, 5 females. Purebred. $250."

(This is when I realized Jeff was in the Golden Retriever section of the classifieds.)

We raised our eyebrows...an unbeatable price for a purebred Golden in our area...might be a good use for our economic stimulus check...

Jeff called the number and left a message on their machine. Then we left McDonald's, finished our shopping, and came home.

Later that afternoon, they called us back! Four females still available. Our having not planned to acquire a puppy yesterday (or anytime in the near future), we had a little bit of discussing to do. "Doesn't our lease agreement say no pets?"

"Not without prior approval."

We called the landlord. "Consider yourself approved," he said. (Good thing. We already have two cats. My old cat, Jack, whom I've had since before I met Jeff, and our new cat, Gracie, who came with the house we live in. Not to mention our parakeet, two turtles, and the tank full of guppies.)

We looked at our finances. Would we still be able to afford our upcoming trip to visit friends and family? It would be tight, but we'd still make it, if we were really careful.

I wandered into the bathroom, where the boys were watching their new 'magic towels' from Dollar Tree 'grow' in the warm bath water, and mentioned casually to them, "So, if we got a Golden Retriever puppy, and it was a girl, what would you name it?"

Both boys thought for a minute. Jonathan piped up, "How about 'Dazzling'?"

James said, "I'd call her 'Cutie'."

Immediately dismissing both names in my mind with a silent 'yeah, right', I said, "Those are good ideas. Let's keep thinking."

We arranged to meet the puppies that evening, told the boys we had a surprise for them, and hopped in the car.

Jeff explained patiently to his wife who always needs fair warning about *everything* that we were JUST LOOKING at the puppies, but we MIGHT NOT find the right puppy for us.

My dog whisperer husband then proceeded to explain to me all about choosing the right puppy. You make noise and if she comes right away, she's too aggressive. If she doesn't come at all, she's too passive. If she holds back for a second, watching curiously, and then saunters over to check it out, she's spot on. Okay. So if we couldn't find that 'spot on' dog, no dice.

We realized the boys would need that fair warning too, so we spilled the beans. "We're going to look at some Golden Retriever puppies, but we MIGHT NOT get one. This will be a lesson in how to shop for puppies."

They responded with all the stoicism of a jubilant four-year-old and a puppy-loving six-year-old. Only their seatbelts kept them from wriggling immediately to the floor like...well, like puppies.

Since they knew the surprise, we stopped off at Petco and got a dog collar...just in case.

While Jeff was inside Petco, I scrounged around mentally for a good name. Our friends have a Golden Retriever named Samson, and I thought, "Hmmm...maybe ours could have an Old Testament name too..." Delilah? No. Esther? Didn't seem right. Ruth? Um...nope. But I have a friend named "Ruth Rose", so after Ruth was shooed off the stage of my brain, Rose followed closely behind. Rose. Rosie.

I turned to the boys in the backseat. "How about Rosie?"

They were highly skeptical. Jonathan said, "How about Angel?"

I said, "How about Rosie?"

James said, "I like Angel."

I said, "How about Rosie?"

We didn't really reach a conclusion, but they thought about it.

Jeff returned with the aforementioned dog collar, and this:

He doesn't need it, of course. He grew up in a very dog savvy family - his parents used to show dogs. His dog prowess is totally instinctive; he doesn't even have to think about it. He informed me, "I will peruse this book to glean what I need to know specifically about Golden Retrievers. But I want you to read it cover to cover. It will really help you."

All the rest of the way there (the puppies were an hour and a half away, at the far end of our metro area, in the next state), I devoured the "choosing a Golden" and "welcoming your puppy home" sections, furiously cramming for my upcoming 'exam'. When we arrived at our destination, I felt fairly confident.

The very cute family informed us this was mama dog's first and last litter - twelve puppies! All four of the parents of mama and papa were papered purebreds, and mama and papa (both owned by the family) were purchased from professional breeders. The puppies had good genes and an impressive lineage - Gerald Ford's dog was one of their ancestors.

Suddenly, we found ourselves standing in a sea of wriggling, waggling, roly-poly, blonde, fuzzy fur. Nine of the twelve puppies romped around us for a few minutes while our boys giggled with delight and joined in the fun. Then all the males went down for a nap, since we were looking for a female, and Jeff got down to business with his dog choosing techniques.

Of the four girls we looked at, two came immediately to Jeff's rattling keys and tried to eat them, one meandered away in the other direction, and one perked her ears up, stayed where she was for a few moments, and when her two nipping sisters were gone, came curiously forward and nudged at Jeff's keys and hands. Bingo. That was our girl.

We did another test. Jeff cradled her like a baby, paws up in the air, against his chest. She settled in immediately and held still for about thirty seconds before she pushed gently against Jeff's arms and looked up as if to say, "Uh...now what?"

She passed the other tests too (handling and following), and we turned to the owners and said, "This is the one." James bubbled up with giggles from deep within his little soul and fixed a Cheshire grin permanently to his little face, dimples shining bright as the sun.

Then he turned to Dad and said, "I think we should call her...Rosie." Glancing at me, he smiled affectionately. Golden Retrievers aren't the only creatures who desire to please. My heart melted into a puddle of mushy mush.

Rosie came home on my lap and I learned my first lessons in showing her who was boss. No licking my face, no biting, no clawing up to stand on my shoulders. She finally curled up in a floppy ball and fell fast asleep.

To think! None of this would have happened if I hadn't, on a whim, decided to go shopping with Jeff!! He would have completed the shopping in a timely manner, picked James up, and come straight home, whizzing straight past McDonald's and its daily newspaper with the Golden Retriever classified section.

And now we have a new baby girl, who is currently zonked out at my feet, sharing my special blankie.

This morning, I realized that I was spelling her name wrong in my head (it hadn't been written down yet). I didn't want her to be Rosie with an I-E because that would remind me too much of Rosie O'Donnell. I said to Jeff, "I think I'd like to spell her name with a Y. Do you think it's okay for our dog to be named an adjective?"

Jeff, in his glorious daily morning stupor, mumbled back, "'Spot' is an adjective."

"No, it's not. 'Spot' is a noun."

"Not when you name the dog 'Spot' because it has a spot on it."


We decided Rosy with a Y would be just fine. It matches her rose-colored ears - the color we're told to expect her to become as an adult.

So, Ladies and Gentlemen (if you're still reading), I'd to introduce you to the newest (and biggest surprise!) addition to our little family.

Meet Rosy.