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  • Writer's pictureHelena Smrcek

Gone to the Dogs

Daisy came to live with us some thirteen years ago. As white hair appeared on her face, I wondered if it may be a good time to start looking for another puppy, so her eventual departure wouldn’t be too devastating to our family. Most of our farm neighbours had dogs, faithful and brave canines who made it their life’s mission to guard the property. Scared of coyotes, I suggested that we start looking for a pup who would grow up into a good size dog, live in his or her dog house and protect my free-range poultry. A couple of days later I followed my husband into his office and watched a slide show of skinny brown dogs. When he excitedly recited the qualities of his chosen breed I shook my head. “This dog can’t live outside. It has short hair. It’d freeze. And it is a birding dog.” I thought of my chickens, then took over his keyboard and typed Top Farm Dog Breeds. The first page listed Anatolian Shephard and a Great Pyrenees. “Here,” I pointed to the screen, “this is what we need.” “You can’t have one dog living inside, and another outside,” he immediately protested. “That would be absolutely unfair.” I failed to see his logic. From that day on, my persistent husband didn’t let go of his perfect dog idea. If I thought the kids were annoying during their pet-acquiring quest, this was an entirely new level, for which I wasn’t prepared. Several days later, and one on-line dog-fraud attempt, we sat in my husband’s truck, ready for a three-hour car trip to see a registered Hungarian Vizsla breeder. As it turned out, these dogs were not that easy to get, and to my shock, they cost a bit more than the $300 the farmer asked for Daisy back in the day. We pulled up to the man’s place and were faced with a kennel full of blue-eyed puppies. My husband’s eyes instantly misted. Was he for real? As soon as we entered the house, the show began. These little dogs had no pause button. Yes, they were cute, but also an absolute terror. The furniture bore a definite witness to that. Was he serious? About two hours later we were back in the truck, a fresh agreement on the dashboard. Gone were my plans for a hefty guard dog. When Hunter finally arrived a couple of weeks later, he was the most adorable puppy I had ever seen. After 24 hours I was ready to drive him back to the breeder’s home. It had been a while since our kids were toddlers, but not even two children under five could cause such mayhem. The puppy was into everything. When he finally got tired, my husband held him like a baby, while the dog slept for five long minutes, then it was back to tornado-mode. Yet the look on my husband’s face was priceless. He genuinely fell in love with this dog. Of course, no one even considered that Hunter could live in a dog house. After all our bed was so comfortable, and the duvet was stuffed with millions of interesting feathers, ready to be freed. We had to buy a coat, since Hunter would get chilly in the rain. My husband researched all commercially sold dog food. Only the best would do. The vet visit was a fun outing accompanied with loads of dog treats. And no one was allowed to say anything remotely negative about the pup, the dog could do no wrong. About a year later Hunter calmed down—a little. He still playfully charged all our visitors in the attempt to lick their ears. My husband lost about 15lbs, thanks to the daily walks in the bush. Hunter became a darling of our family, even though our children kept mentioning that they felt somewhat replaced. When I finally adjusted to a dog jumping over our sofas and gently shoving himself between my husband and I, every time we watched TV, we received a phone call. “It was the breeder,” my husband said in a quiet voice. “He has a dog for us to look at.” His phone chimed with incoming message. “What?” He glanced at his screen. “Her name is Penny.” He shoved his phone in front of my face. “She is absolutely gorgeous. The owners returned her.” “Why?” “They have no time for her.” And I thought things were finally settling down around here. A few short days later, Hunter, my husband and I, sat in his truck, ready for another three-hour trip—each way. I made him promise that if for any reason the dogs don’t get along, we wouldn’t even consider taking her. We should have brought Daisy, now that I think of it. But as soon as we entered the familiar dog house, with raggedy furniture and hair on all surfaces, I knew there was no way we would leave this place without her. Seeing my husband melt once again, I realized that we won’t be getting new furniture in the next decade or so. Dog hair scratching at the back of my throat, a familiar verse popped into my mind: Love is patient, love is kind…it keeps no record of wrongs. After all, with two Vizslas in a house, plus an old Jack-Russell-Pug, what could possibly go wrong?

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