Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry, don't cry, don't cry, I told myself over and over as we walked toward the kennel and our new dog. (Not the right dog!) Despite my strict orders to myself, my eyes were stinging just a bit as we reached the cage, and there was a suspicious lump in my throat. I wasn't crying, though. It was just a dog. The eye-stinging must have been allergens from all the different animals in the place, and the throat thing - well, I'd probably better have that checked out, I told myself. Probably a tumor.
I was not crying. I would not cry. I was absolutely not choked up. It was just a dog.
The guy at the front of the kennels broke into a grin when he saw our pickup tag.
"So, you're adopting today, eh?"
"Yeah," I had to clear my throat. Damn tumor. "Yeah," I repeated in a more normal voice, "It's that little brown cocker spaniel over there."
I almost lost it on the word "brown," but I took a few deep breaths and tried to remain calm.
"Oh, that one! Yeah, him and his sister are the greatest dogs!" He leaned toward us conspiratorially. "You the one that brought them in?"
I told him I was, and related a little bit of the story about finding them on campus, while he shook his head.
"I can't believe people would let dogs like that just go," he said sadly. "They probably had a litter of puppies, and the cute little puppies got a bit bigger, and weren't so cute anymore, so the people just trashed 'em. Unbelievable."
The guy seemed pretty approachable, so I thought I'd take a chance on reassuring myself a bit.
"Hey, do you know who got the black one? Do you remember seeing them at all?" I didn't really hold out much hope for that, since these guys see a lot of dogs and a lot of people, but I had to at least ask.
"Oh, it's funny you should ask," he replied. "There was this whole family that came in: Mom, Dad, three kids around 10 to 15 or so. I remember it because they just sort of descended en masse like they were on a mission or something. They had to have a dog. They had to have the RIGHT kind of dog. They had to have a dog that they ALL liked, and the dog had to like them. They were here for like two hours solid going through and talking to like every single dog in the place. When they got to those guys, they were all like, THIS is the dog! We love this dog! They were all talking baby talk to her, and the dog was just thrilled, you could tell. The funniest thing was the husband, though: the guy was like 6'2", built like a pro-wrestler - looked like he could eat nails for lunch, and he was down there all 'Who's a little fluffy girl? Who's a pretty puppy?' God, it was hilarious! I wish I had a video of that!"
Well, of course they loved that dog. So did I. The family obviously had good taste. I felt a little better about the situation - at least my beloved stray was going to a good home. Honestly, if a 6'2" guy that looks like The Rock was talking baby talk about "fluffy girl" and "pretty puppy," there was probably going to be some love in that family.
The tumor in my throat seemed to be subsiding a bit. Good. I probably wouldn't need radiation therapy then, and as an added benefit, my eyes weren't stinging nearly as much. I must be getting used to the allergens.
I forced a chuckle. "I wouldn't mind having a video of that, myself," I told him.
It was pretty much time. Time to say goodbye to one friend, and welcome home to a new one. I will admit, though, I was still a little uneasy about how this would work out.
But Charlie wanted the brown one, so I hoped for the best. The guy grabbed the appropriate keys, and led us to the cage where the dogs were.
"Hey, say hello to your new Mommy and Daddy," he told the brown one as he slipped a leash through the gate.
To be continued ...