Hard as it might be to believe, seven years have passed since I brought home a diminutive chocolate Labrador puppy that had spent the first weeks of her life in a Millington, Tennessee garage. Mama didn’t make it through the birthing process and the room full of pups was bound for the local shelter sooner rather than later. Hand feeding and the constant upkeep of the small herd had proved too much for the resident humans to manage any longer.
As these stories so often start, I wasn’t planning on getting another dog. Actually I was, but I wanted to get through Christmas before starting the search in earnest. Dragging a two month old dog on one of my transcontinental road trips wasn’t high on my list of things to do. Or it wasn’t until a colleague of mine at the time posted a sign offering “free to a good home” and then proceeded to tell me the backstory.
In one of the better snap decisions I’ve ever made, I told the boss I was going to have a look at these dogs and I might be late coming back from lunch. Even at that I hadn’t planned to come back with a dog that day. I really just wanted to look things over. It was supposed to be a start to the “looking” process, not an acquisition. That’s what it was, or rather what it started out as – right up to the point where the door to the garage opened and an army of wagging tails charged out.
There was a lone chocolate in that sea of black. Unlike the others, she didn’t rush out into the room. While her litter-mates sought to occupy every bit of space simultaneously, she hung back – not quite cowering in the presence of the unfamiliar, but in no hurry to greet it either. She was satisfied to find a quiet spot away from the maelstrom and observe. Maybe that’s why the tumblers clicked home. I scooped her up for a closer inspection. With a sniff she seemed satisfied and promptly fell asleep tucked under my arm like a fuzzy football. Some decisions are made for you.
My lunch that day ended up taking a bit longer than planned, although the boss didn’t seem to mind since he went home with a lab of his own later that afternoon. All told, I think my office ended up taking in four or five pups from that litter, but I’ll forever think that my girl was the best of them.