Friday, July 07, 2006

Love at First Scruffy Sight

I'm sitting at my desk looking at my scruffy dog, Baxter, who is looking out the window. He's doing his job. Every day I pour a cup of coffee, say "Ok Bax, let's go to work" and he dutifully follows me to my office where he takes his seat at the window. While I go about my day working on the computer, he watches the birds and the tops of the neighbors' heads over the fence and he feverishly announces the appearance of any backyard visitors of the feline variety.

When I look at him I can't believe it has been seven years since we first met. Every day I see him and I am still amazed by his presence. And at the same time I feel like I've known this dog forever and have a hard time imagining my life without him.

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT: Flashback to June husband and I are driving up the Columbia Gorge (which is spectacular) and I'm overwhelmed with anticipation. We're off to look at a couple litters of scruffy puppies: Airedales and Wirehaired Pointing Griffons. The Griffs were first. We never made it to the Airedales.

We drove up in the driveway of a modest home with a nice big yard. The breeder met us and said he'd like to introduce us first to the sire of the litter. We drove a short way to another modest home with a nice big yard and running around it was one of the most handsome dogs I had ever seen, and at his feet was one of the cutest puppies I had ever seen -- a little female, the pick of the litter. By this time I was brimming with enthusiasm at the prospect of soon seeing the rest of the pups.

We returned to the breeder's house and he told us there were only two puppies available out of an original litter of 10 -- four were still there, but two were spoken for. He told us to come around the side of the house and he met us there. He opened the tall wooden gate and sitting inside, right smack in the middle of the pathway was the most adorable puppy I had ever seen. He was looking right up at us, his golden yellow eyes were extremely direct and inquisitive. Our gazes met and it was love at first sight.

I didn't feel we should make a rushed decision without seeing the other puppy, so we proceeded on into the yard and the little pup happily followed us. There we saw three other 10-week-old puppies, each one just as adorable as the next, frolicking around the yard.

We played a bit with our welcoming puppy, who was a bit smaller than the others, but definitely held his own. He had an air of puppy confidence and he stuck to us like glue.

"This is the other one here," the breeder said, as he pointed out a sweet but very timid puppy. He had scars all over his ears and had obviously been chewed-on by the other pups for quite some time. I felt quite sorry for the little guy. But as I picked him up to hold him, the welcome puppy had a complete fit. He started running over and when the breeder picked him up to keep him away, he started howling and scrambling with his little legs. I interpreted this to mean "No, he's not the one you want, I'M THE ONE! CAN'T YOU SEE I'M THE ONE? I'M THE ONE!"

"I guess he thinks he's the one," I said. We put the puppies down and watched them play some more. My eye was on the welcome puppy.

"The trouble with this little guy, " said the breeder, gesturing at the welcome puppy, "is he doesn't show any promise as a hunter at all." This is, apparently, why he was one of the last two to be adopted. We were primarily looking for a pet, so lack of hunting ability wasn't a huge deal to us. But to demonstrate this, the breeder took a fishing pole with a bird wing on the end of the line and cast it out into the yard. To my amazement, three of the puppies immediately went on point.

"See?" he said pointing to the welcome puppy, who seemed to be standing there assessing the situation. Then a little miracle happened. The puppy looked at us, looked at the wing and made the most beautiful little 10-week-old puppy point you've ever seen.

"Well I'll be darned, he's never done that before!" exclaimed the breeder.

We knew he was doing it for us. I like to think he was saving himself for the right family. We paid the fee, picked-up the puppy and carried him out to the truck. He never cried and never looked back. He seemed completely at peace and happy to be with us, as he has from that moment forward. We decided he looked like "Baxter." And so he was.

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