We are huge animal lovers in our family. Before Wolfie was born, Greg and I had one cat (Chuckie, the amazing wondercat) and one dog (Spencer, our amazing three-legger). They were the best, best pets ever. Chuckie was a beautiful grey kitty…and an amazing mix of “independent neighborhood bad ass” and “supreme snuggler”. I wasn’t really a cat person til I met Chuckie. I adored him. And Spence….Spence was a truly magical dog. He lost his leg when he was two, but still ran and swam like gang busters. He was a beauty (part Irish Setter, part Springer) LOVED to chase a ball and looked for any excuse to go in the water. Sadly, Chuckie passed away while I was pregnant and Spencer passed away within a few weeks of Wolfie’s birth. It was pretty devastating. We decided we’d wait to get another dog til Wolfie was a bit older. In the mean time we collected a menagerie of crazy kitties (one feral, two strays….see? we’re suckers for any sweet animal). BUT we have really been hankerin’ for a pup. We love bigger dogs that you can really snuggle and hug on. We were thinking something in the labrador/golden retriever category (we’ve been dog sitting my friend’s dog Henry this past year, and he is an awesome chocolate lab)….but then one day, a few weeks ago, we went to the pound and we met this fella:
He looks kind of cute and little in that photo, but it’s an optical illusion. He’s pretty huge. They didn’t know much about him….but they were fairly sure he was a Kuvasz, a Hungarian goat guarding dog. His coat had to be shaved because he was so matted and had tons of foxtails and burrs in his fur. One look in his big ol’ brown eyes and something about him made us know he was special. I have to say it was quite an ordeal trying to adopt him—we almost didn’t get him! A young hippy girl (who was a renter) got there before us and laid claim to him. She didn’t have a note from her landlord (which they require in order to adopt) and was on the phone with him. Technically we could have swooped in and nabbed him (the lady behind the counter was brusque, “We don’t hold animals. First person whose application is approved gets the dog!”) but even though we were in love, we felt weird starting things out awkwardly. We decided to wait a few hours to give the girl time to get her papers together and then we’d go back. If he was still there, we figured we could go ahead and try to adopt. So Greg and Wolfie went back (I had to work) and he was still there. Yay! They spent a lot of time with him in the little play yard and said he was wonderful. But they were told that the entire family had to be there in order to process an adoption. Boooo! That was a Saturday. We decided we’d go back first thing Sunday to apply. We were a little nervous hippy girl would have come back so we got there 15 minutes before they opened….only to find out that they were short staffed and they were closed. Argh!! We went back Monday and they were closed again! Double argh!! Tuesday they were FINALLY open….and Wolfie and I went there immediately after school. He was still there, wagging his tail and looking like a love. Of course we had to wait for Greg, and I was paranoid someone would come and snag him out from under us—including hippy girl. I literally sat on the floor in front of his cage with my paperwork. He probably thought I was crazy, sitting there for 30 minutes speaking softly to him. While I waited, at least four different people came to the shelter specifically to look at him. I nervously clutched our paperwork and tried to look like I was official. One couple seemed reeeeally interested in him and lingered, but bless little Wolfie, who piped up, “Oh, this is our doggie. We are adopting him! He’s awesome!” The man was very sweet and said, “Oh, well then. If he’s your doggie he’s a very lucky dog.” The woman didn’t look too pleased. Finally Greg showed up….and we moved into full adoption swing! We were literally signing on the dotted line when I heard someone come in behind me saying, “I’m back! And I have all my papers finally.” Eek. It was Hippy Girl. My heart dropped, I was still paranoid that this beautiful doggie wouldn’t be ours, but thankfully it was all an done deal (and to be fair, it was four days after we first saw her so I felt like our boy was fair game). They told us he still needed to be fixed and microchipped and we couldn’t take him home for a few days. We were confused because he sure looked fixed, but they insisted he wasn’t. [Oh, and as a happy story side note, when we were leaving we saw Hippy Girl with a most lovely siberian huskey in the play yard, and I think she ended up adopting him!]
Of course the next day they called us, apologetic, “Um, so we put him under to do the operation and uh, heh….well he IS fixed!” Argh. Poor pooch. The one upside was that they were able to remove some more foxtails that were embedded deep in his little ears. I went to pick him up and they led him out of the back room all woozy and groggy. I was so happy to see him, although he was pretty out of it. All of a sudden an older somewhat fancily dressed woman comes flying up to us, “Oh my goodness, there he is! Oh my he’s beautiful!” “Um, thank you….we just adopted him.” “You adopted him? Oh no! I saw him on the web site. He’s beautiful! I came alllll the way from Marin to look at him! I am afraid of driving…I had to Mapquest the way and it was SUCH an ordeal! Really? You are adopting him??? Oh no!” It was so crazy and awkward. I felt like she wanted me to say, “oh ok, you can have him then.” Instead I said, ”Yes….we completed the adoption yesterday. We really love him.” The woman was nice but kept following us. “Can I please pet him? I’m so happy to meet him…..and see you….you who are adopting him. You know my own dog was a Samoyed and he just passed away 2 weeks ago.” Oy. What do you say? We were an odd pair, me and my wobbly legged pup being followed by the Marin fancy lady. I was trying to pay the Rescue people for his rabies shots and she wouldn’t stop cooing and petting him. I finally had to say, “I’m so sorry, I don’t mean to be rude, but I need to finalize things here.” We finished up and as I turned to leave, Fancy Lady was still there staring whistfully at our boy. She even followed us out to the parking lot. It was very awkward. But not as awkward as me trying to get Mr. Dog into the back seat of my Jetta. We have a mini van (MINI VAN!) and that’s what we had planned on bringing him home in…we weren’t expecting the “Oops. He’s already fixed!” call. Add that to the fact that the poor guy was still partially drowsy from the anesthesia and we were a comical pair as I tried to help him clamber into the back seat. Fancy lady suddenly appeared (again) and for once I was glad to see her. She happened to have a special car ramp they had built for her dog and offered it to help get him inside. As crazy as she was, she was very kind and helpful in the end. It was astounding to me how many people wanted to adopt this doggy and how everyone’s reaction to him was so positive. We knew we landed ourselves a pretty special guy.
We decided to name him Samson, since his glorious mane was shorn. We know it will come back in its full glory and are feeding him lots of healthy food to encourage a luscious coat—and put a little meat on his slender frame. We call him Sam….or Sammy. It was so fun bringing him home and once his drugs wore off, he was very curious, alert and loved hunkerin’ out in the backyard with a bone.
We’ve been researching online and we think he is either a Great Pyrenees or a Kuvasz.
Both dogs look extremely similar and both are herd guarding dogs….we’re leaning towards a Great Pyrenees. He might have some lab in him too, but he doesn’t really look like a mix. It’s hard to tell since his coat is still short. One thing that’s certain is he is SUCH a sweetie. So gentle and mellow. He has a mean and throaty bark, which cracks us up. We had no clue how old he was but we took him to the vet this weekend and she thinks he’s 1 1/2 – 2. MUCH younger than we thought!
He still has very puppie-ish behavior….we came home the other day to find that he had tore open a whole sack of fishy kitty treats….and a bag of goldfish crackers….and ate them on the bed…and then dragged our little compost bin off the counter and who knows WHAT he ate outta that thing. Sigh. Yep. We are now the proud owners of a 72 pound teenager. Lord have mercy! But honestly, he’s just so dang cute and sweet….we’re all so smitten. He’s got personality for days. Wolfie is especially thrilled, he’s an animal lover and has always been gentle with pets. And Sammy is pretty wonderful with Wolfie. Already protective of him.
Having a dog is a big responsibility, and one we don’t take lightly. But the rewards are also so very great. He’s already added so much joy and excitement (ahem…..compost bin) to our lives. Stay tuned for more adventures!