But the whole "well, our little one wasn't exactly planned" line isn't as easy to pull off when you're talking about a dog. But as previously described, I'm the crazy dog lady, so it shouldn't come as a shock that I usually describe the acquisition of our latest dog, Knox, as a pure accident.
It all started innocently enough. Our friends Taryn and Josh were in town visiting from Rhode Island, and after exhausting the relatively short list of non-lame tourist attractions in Atlanta, we were back at our house in Canton.
If you're from around this part of Georgia, you shouldn't be surprised that as a host I was a little nervous/ashamed/preoccupied in the matter of our northern guests being stuck in a town that's a 10 minute drive from a Walmart in which the only acceptable apparel is camo and pajamas, so I was keen to show them the cultural, uh, that is to say, the non-redneck side of Canton.
So, we jumped in the car and drove down the street to the Canton Festival of the Arts that just happened to be occurring that weekend. Local vendors, writers, gardeners and artists set up shop on the streets, and after strolling among their wooden carvings, colorful flowers, handmade jewelry and made from scratch jams and wild honeys, something caught my eye: a folding table with a banner for the Cherokee County Animal Shelter. A couple of volunteers were handing out fliers and I hesitantly took one and saw Max smiling (yes, dogs can smile) up at me. I chatted with the volunteers for a couple of minutes about our other pets and finally inquired about the dog whose picture I was holding.
Max was, to date, the longest resident of the Cherokee County Animal Shelter. He had been there exactly one year and one week and the shelter decided to dedicate their day at the art festival to his adoption. I expressed the hope that he would be adopted soon and explained that we already had 2 dogs so it wasn't an option for us.
It only took a couple of hours to make 2 circuits of the arts festival, and at 11am I was, yet again, desperately thinking of something to occupy my guests with. Randy suggested taking a trip up to the shelter because the volunteers had described their cat and kitten room where the public can go and play with the adoptables until their hearts' content (and Taryn and Josh LOVE cats).
Me: Randy, we're not going. I KNOW what you're doing and we cannot have a third dog.
Randy: We're not going to get another dog. Let's just go take a look around
.... can you see where this is going?
So next thing I know we're pulling into the parking lot and walking through the glass door to the shelter. The cat room is right at the front of the building and before I can even blink Taryn and Josh have made a beeline for the felines and have left Randy and me standing in the lobby looking lost. The 2 staff at the counter look expectantly at us, and at a loss for words, I said some poorly choiced words
Me: Hey... we were just at the festival and saw the flier for Max. He really...
Random staff member (in a teary voice): You're here for Max?
Me: Well, I...
Random staff member announcing for the entire building to hear: SOMEONE'S HERE FOR MAX!!!!
Me: No, I...
Next thing I know a flock of volunteers and staff descend upon me. Randy and I are ushered back into the "get acquainted room."
I barely had time to turn my head to give Randy an alarmed look when Max is walked in by a kind-faced woman who looks like everybody's favorite grandmother.
Max was an adult black dog with a crooked tail and some missing teeth. Carol, a veteran volunteer of the shelter, expressed her longing for Max to find a great home and she became quite emotional describing how she loves taking him for walks around the shelter and how Max is a regular at the senior center next door on the many outings the staff do around town to raise awareness.
As soon as Carol leaves us "to get to know one another," I hiss to Randy:
"NOW see what you've done! They think we're going to take him home and they're all going to be heartbroken!"
Randy had the sense to look somewhat guilty.
I slumped back into the dog hair covered couch, scowled, and considered my situation. I only had one viable option in my opinion.
Flee the premises.
But how to escape without being noticed? Especially since we would have to grab Taryn and Josh from the cat room and likely have to prise kittens from their clothing??
But alas, time began acting in that bizarre way where it speeds up when it should be slowing down. Next thing I know I'm in the outdoor pen with Max, and Randy is driving back to the house to pick up our other 2 dogs to bring back for a "meet and greet."
Flash forward 15 minutes and our dogs are frolicking around the mulch-laden fenced pen while volunteers and staff gather around, applauding and announcing their approval of Max's new "brother and sister."
10 minutes later I'm sitting at the front desk while a pen is placed in my hand and I vaguely remember signing something.
Then reality came crashing down when the time-space continuum continued and I appeared with Taryn and Josh at the aforementioned Walmart to pick up a new leash and food bowl. One of those experiences where you are standing in the checkout line behind a 350 lb man dressed in a camouflage onesie and ask yourself "what just happened? Why am I here?"
Flash forward 2 years to today and Max, who we renamed Knox*, is lounging on the couch next to me. Maybe it was the time he spent in the shelter, or just his personality, but Knox is a total spaz. Don't get me wrong--the shelter does an awesome job with all of their dogs by keeping their minds sharp with specially made "doggie puzzles" that help them de-stress from the constant over stimulation of shelter environment, but a year is a long time for any dog.
Some of Knox's spastic activities include barking randomly, "dancing" when you scratch his butt, making inappropriate moaning noises at all hours, and thrashing around on his back while howling (see below picture to get the general idea).
But despite his many eccentricities, I really couldn't imagine life without him. He brings so much laughter to my life and joy to my day that I couldn't imagine NOT adopting this dog. And while it can be so easy to become overwhelmed by depressing shelter statistics, I remember a sign I saw at the shelter (where I now volunteer)
"Adopting one dog may not change the world, but the world will surely change for that one dog."
*for some unknown reason, we call him "Moose" 97% of the time. Hence the title of this post.