Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Dog Named Blitz - Chapter Two: "Pre Dog" Part 4

For background on this serial, please click here. You can also start at Part One of this chapter.

Anyone that knows me knows I am the world's worst negotiator. I'm quick to find settlement, any settlement, even if it is not the best deal available. This has worked to great advantage for my wife - herself a stellar negotiator. The only thing I have going for me is that I wear my feelings on my sleeve, and you pretty much always know where I stand.

So after Randy's call about the availability of the pup, I tried negotiation with my wife. I would have been better off trying to broker a middle east peace accord. All of my moves and posturing were deftly rebuffed, and I was quickly running out of runway. If I was going to get a pup from Randy, I needed to close the deal soon.

My wife clearly knew I wanted a dog. However, given my approach and my actions, it was clearly becoming evident that I wanted not just a dog, but this dog. In some marriages, things get done via a war of attrition - the other side just gets tired and gives in. Me, I'm lucky. I have a wife that can read me like a book, knows what's truly important to me, and ultimately makes it OK for me to do what I'm asking her to do. She's a wonderful, patient, and generous woman, and one that I do not deserve.

So eventually the "yes" was provided, but also with a whole host of rules, jobs, and requirements. In my shrewd negotiation mode, I dutifully agreed to everything, lest the deal go sideways at such a critical juncture. Truth be told, she could have made out a lot better than she did.

Armed with the approval and with a couple of days ahead of the date to pick up the pup, I threw myself into a crash course of all things new Labrador puppy. Books and articles were devoured, advice from dog owning friends sought, and multiple trips made to Gander Mountain for crates, collars, bones, and other puppy sundries. It was a whirlwind of information gathering and cash outlay. I found out quickly that owning a dog is neither simple nor cheap.

Soon the day was upon us, and while my wife and I felt trepidation (mine due to lack of knowledge, hers due fear of what might happen to her house) we set off for Oronoco, Minnesota to see Randy and to take home a puppy. I came with a crate in the back of the Explorer, a small collar, and check for Mr. Bartz.

We pulled into Randy's homestead, which was a working farm, small business, and kennel operation all in one. As expected, it was impeccably kept up; a clean, orderly operation. We were quickly met by the huge smiles from Randy and his wife, and as his hand engulfed mine in a firm handshake, he slyly asked, "Are you ready for this?" In looking at my wife, I knew her answer was unsure at best, but I was beyond the point of no return. I replied in the affirmative, and we headed off to where the puppies were playing.

Anyone, and I don't care who you are, anyone loves a yellow lab puppy. Throw about 8 of them into the mix and no matter what your troubles, they are instantly gone. As we waded into the pen and this roly-poly mass of yellow and cute, I looked over to my wife and recognized the signs of a cold heart that had been absolutely melted. I knew that brining her down with me to select a dog was a wise thing, as I knew that regardless of what would happen from here on out, we were not leaving Randy's place dogless.

Vera spent her time playing, while I was trying to invoke some selection criteria I had read in a book about looking for the dog that's not too timid, and not too aggressive. She had fun, while I had confusion. About the time I thought I had one identified, it'd wonder back into the pile to see the nice lady and I'd have no clue about who was who.

We spent nearly 20 minutes on this process, and I noticed that my wife had taken a shine to the smallest dog in the group. While she was technically the runt dog, there was nothing runty about her personality. She got in and mixed it up with the other dogs, and she was not afraid to come up to Vera and me. She also had a beautiful coat, not quite white but close, and was the lightest shade within the pack. It soon became clear - this little trooper was coming home with us. This little dog was Blitz.

I wrote Randy the check and we put this tiny little dog into the full size dog crate in the back of the Explorer. Randy's wife asked if we had anything to help take up room in the crate (dogs, especially pups, do much better in a confined space that is not much bigger than they need - a fact I learned too late for Blitz's first car ride), and I confided I did not. It was quite a picture in the back of the rig.

All loaded, we said our thank yous and goodbyes and headed back north. In all of the time there, Vera developed the need to use a rest room, and we stopped at the first gas station we could find along the route back home. We pulled in, and as my wife headed in, I went around to the back of the truck and opened up the hatch. There sat the dog, my dog, with a quizzical look on her face. At that point, I looked her straight in the eye and said out loud, "Blitz, you and I are going to have so much fun. And I want you to know that no matter what happens, I will always, always take care of you."

I had no idea how she'd ultimately put that promise to the test.

To head to the next chapter, click here


  1. I love these stories! Great turns of phrase, great use of humor. I'm ready for the next installment. :)
    --Lea & Riley the speckled mutt

  2. Lea,

    Thanks for the comments and your feedback! Much appreciated. Stay tuned - there's lots more to come.

    Thanks again.


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