A Story and a Fable (AKA The Puppy Ate My Blog-Work)

Titles this post has gone through since I started writing it on New Year’s day:

  • Ringing in the New Year with a Story and a Fable

  • My Adorable New Co-Pilot

  • Fur Children and Why My Bed Is No Longer Mine

  • When Do Puppies Sleep?

  • Stop Chewing That

  • PLEASE, Stop Chewing That. Okay, Fine, Chew That, Just Don’t Chew…. Whatever, I’m Just Drinking In a Corner.

  • Oh, God, What Have I Done?

  • My Precious Puppy is a Bit of a Dick.

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But that face!

Seriously, puppies are HARD. Whoever said “puppies are so much easier than adult dogs” (you know who you are) needs to go play in a tank of baby sharks.

Yet, we love her. We’re glad we found her. And we’re glad our body parts remain (mostly) uneaten. (Shark teeth over there notes there’s still time to change that).

Also, she’s really damned cute. (Yes, that cute is absolutely a survival function).

Without further ado, here’s the post I’ve been trying to finish for a month!

So we’ve reached 2019. Whoa. How in the heck… I had grand plans for writing all the things I’d meant to write in 2017, and then in 2018. It’s a long list. Like why I’ve been so silent for so long on my own dang blog, debriefing my first run at publication—and why I hid from my author email for over a year and ultimately made the choice to relaunch. Or inane angst and accidents and shootings (yes, for real).

But now we’re here. In 2019.

Yowzah.

But to mark this new(ish) year, I want to talk about puppies. My puppy, to be precise. This is the story of how she got her name (and covers how I most recently lost my mind).

It starts with some sad, and ends with a cat hotel.

Four years ago my husband and I lost our beloved dog—a Great Dane named Jackson. Best dog in the world. That great spotted beast was a true pacifist, a “licker, not a fighter” we’d joke. He stepped over lady bugs and played carefully with tiny chihuahua puppies. It took us a whole year to be ready to even put our names on a breeder’s list for a puppy—another dane, of course. (They’re a unique doggo experience, danes. Once you’ve had a giant horse-dog, you just don’t want a regular-sized beast). I was nervous about getting a puppy—I’ve only ever had adult dogs, rescued from shelters or random craigslist happenstance—but spouse was adamant.

I needed to experience a puppy, so a puppy we would get.

This week Spouse looked at me and said, “I’m so sorry, babe. Puppies are stupid hard. And, now that I think about it, the last time I had a puppy I was 15. And I guess my parents did all that work…”

But we didn’t know of the shark-toothed terror that awaited us three years ago. So we settled into wait for our new puppy with cheerful anticipation.

And it would be a wait. We knew it. Good breeders don’t breed much, and we needed to wait for our names to reach the top of a list. The first year went by without any puppy, and that was good, because honestly, we still needed time (if you’re a dog lover, then you know. Losing “the” dog is a sharp, deep blow that leaves a mark).

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Sure, that’s a lot of cute, but why not adopt?

Well, I tried.

I applied to multiple places: my local SPCA, adoption outfits specializing in giant breeds. I’d had a dane—hell, we had a reference from our vet on the quality of care we’d given that dog.

But nope. I worked (dayjob, 9-5), and I didn’t have a big fenced-in yard. Seemed my Jackson was a fluke in more ways than one—with I wasn’t going to make the cut.

Then year two passed. And we rolled into year three convinced.

“This will be the year,” Spouse said.

But it nearly wasn’t.

There was a litter with the dog we absolutely loved and our names finally came up, but timing was the worst. We’d have to take the puppy home in the first week of September. At that time, I was still working at the university in student support. No way in hell I could get that week off—and no way I’d manage to do anything more than drag my sorry carcass through reams of “why can’t I register in a blocked class” and “those prerequisites can’t apply to me” requests.

Next litter? Same time. Same problems.

So I figured it was time to expand my options. Rolling into year four, the recently passed 2018, I reached out to another breeder. We’d wanted to avoid getting another Harlequin (white with black splotches) right away, but there was a breeder with just those dogs and… well… they’ll always have a piece of my heart. So I signed up. Did the phone interview, confirmed I’d keep her updated on a puppy’s life (should we get one). We discovered we had lot’s in common. She had a spring litter coming up, liked us, and if she had a big enough litter, we’d make the cut.

Finally, I thought, this is it.

I got offered a job—IN A DOG-FRIENDLY OFFICE!—everything was coming together.

Except that breeding didn’t take.

The breeding after that did, but there were only three puppies. And I thought one was ours. I got pics of her, followed her development, and was SO excited to take her home.

Then I lost my job—aka the company closed unexpectedly just before Christmas. And that sucked. But also, it was kind of awesome timing. I mean, I’d have at least a few weeks at home with the wee beastie before I secured another job. I could bond with our puppy! Write! Make art!

[Insert hysterical laughter here. No, Dee, this is not how puppies work.]

But still. That’s my puppy! Right?

Wrong.

Once more, things fell through.

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So I said, “Fuck this noise. I’m getting a dog.”

I started emailing people.

First, the breeders who’d been recommended to me. Then, after I received a lengthy email on how one breeder’s dogs belong to a long-dead line of danes, I began contacting randos.

[I’m sure that breeder means well and that line situation makes sense in her world (somehow), but I’m not in the market for an undead dog.]

The first couple randos weren’t marketing undead spawn…but nor were they selling actual dogs. How “in Vancouver” means Maryland and Saskatoon respectively I do not know, but there needs to be a terrible, terrible level of hell for taking advantage of people who just want to give a dog a home.

Hope waned.

“Try one more, hun,” said my Spouse.

I’ve yet to decide if I love him more for that encouragement. (Probably more. But I suspect it will take at least another 6 months to bubble to the surface).

I was skeptical about option three. Who runs a cat hotel, in Surrey? But together with my intrepid friend (aka puppy enabler) and his mom (aka other puppy enabler) and her electric car, we journeyed from east Vancouver into the depths of Surrey. (If you’re not local, you won’t get it. Let’s just say it’s not my normal stomping grounds.) Spouse didn’t come, because if it was a scam, he’d still have given them money to save the dog.

Well, that last person was a winner. Not a breeder or a scammer, just someone who’s Dane got knocked up by her brother’s Dane. Happily, both danes were from different lines (no in breeding, hurray!) and the result was seven happy puppies.

Seven. Puppies.

Honestly. That poor mama dog.

And yes, this person really does run a cat hotel, complete with themed rooms and a die-hard fan base. (We know, we got the tour).

There were two puppies left by the time I found her, Spouse and I had our pick. One was nicknamed “Hefty,” a happy giant galumph of a puppy. The other was nicknamed “Scrappy” and was the slightly smaller, slightly smarter (solidly more shit-disturbing) puppy.

You can guess which one we picked. (Rather, which one picked us.)

And there was really only one thing we could call her.

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Meet Fable.

Finding her sure was a story.

And we know her tale as part of our family is only just beginning.