Wednesday, August 19, 2020

My BFFs: Best Fur Friends


Pippa 7+ years old
I want you to meet Pippa. She isn’t just a dog, she’s my soul mate. A 7-year-old Cairn Terrier offering me constant comfort, companionship, and devotion. My reason to get up in the morning, to get out of my PJs, to move off the couch, to go for a walk. Because of her, I am more caring, friendly, and communicative.

A few months ago I took Pippa to the groomer, inside a local pet store. After dropping her off, I wandered down the row of viewing cubicles, the last exhibiting a dachshund puppy pair. In tandem they came to the window, reaching their paws to the glass, and staring straight into my eyes. I can’t express my direct connection to those little beings.

What you don’t realize about me is my long-held dachshund affection. Years ago - I was seven - my brother Charles bought one for our mom. Everyone loved Hilda. So much so my mom let her have puppies, giving them to my other brother, a cousin, and an Aunt. Those Hilda-pups began a family custom. I had three doxies myself - Liebchen, Schatzie, and Flecke - each burrowing into my DNA.

I left the pet store and drove home, waiting for the groomer’s call summoning me to retrieve Pippa. I daydreamed about those black pleading eyes for hours. I texted my daughter, my step-daughter, and my best friend about the wag-tail doggies in the window, asking them many questions. Should I get one? Am I too old? How will I care for her when I’m older? And how would Pippa - my BFF - react to her?

Their truthful answers rattled in my head after I picked up Pippa and long into the night. At dawn, I woke up with a plan. Monday I would return and buy one puppy, a female. If there were two, I wouldn’t split them up. If those details fell my way, I would sit with the pup in the adoption booth and allow her to come to me. If she did, I would buy her. This let the pair stay together. If not, I wouldn’t be the person dividing them.

But my musings didn’t stop. They shifted to baby names. Because my dad came from Austria, the tradition started that our dogs’ names must be German. They could be actual names or endearments, adjectives, titles, foods, and more. But the best ones already belonged to other dogs. Trudel, Otto, Mina, Tina, Rudolph, Gretchen, and Heidi. I told you my family loved dachshunds. All Sunday I researched possibilities. I chose three, yet I hadn’t met her.

The weekend dragged on, Monday arriving by a turtle. At the store, I chatted with Dave, the owner. I’m a frequent customer, having bought Pippa and another Cairn Terrier there. Both outstanding pets. Dave told me he already promised the male but not the female. He showed me papers with the breeding kennel, pedigree, plus pictures and weights of her dam and sire. Although important facts to know before buying a puppy, the entire discussion I itched to hold her.

Dave eventually walked me to the adoption pen, disappeared, and returned with the tiny black dog. He placed her on the floor where she took her sweet time walking around the booth, nose down, hunting the linoleum’s smells. When she came to me she sniffed me over too. At my face she stopped and gently licked my lips, showering me with tiny puppy kisses. And that was it, she was mine.

I took her home in a mesh soft-sided carrier. She whimpered and whined, scared from the rumbling, bumpy ride. We didn’t have far to drive, so I reached out my right hand touching her through the mesh and she calmed. At home, I carried her in the carrier to the side-yard outside my house, putting the bag on the ground. Then I hurried inside to find Pippa. I wanted their first meeting to be in neutral territory, not Pippa’s yard or house. I quickly found my soul mate and brought her outside on a leash. She examined the carrier without its usual cat. Unzipping the top, I lifted the little girl and placed her on the ground. Pippa sniffed her all over and walked away. Nothing more to see here.

Inka 2 months old
Inside the rec room, I left them together on the floor while I sat nearby. When Pippa walked away I picked up the puppy and snuggled her, smelling her distinctive baby breath. Her little black nose, fringy ears, ink-smudged brown feet, and wispy-tipped tail entranced me. She’s dark for a black-and-tan dachshund, so I named her Inka, after the German singer.

Two months passed since I brought Inka home. Pippa now acts with her like older sisters do. She’s taught her the best places to dig in the yard and plants to roll in. In the evening, she roughhouses with her or runs laps in the yard, extra activities for them both. She also tells Inka off when she takes her favorite toy or rests in her preferred spot next to me.

Connecting Pippa and Inka has been a slow process, but that’s good. I still have my soul mate for our walks. She hasn't stopped signaling time to eat dinner or get dressed for bed. Baby Inka - she won’t be that for long - receives nurturing from both of us. My two sweeties balance each other. Pippa is matronly, knowledgeable, and sedate; Inka young, inquiring, and silly.

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