“Oh, and she hates men with facial hair.”
My son was on the floor, making the kind of noises a kid makes when he or she is being trampled by the affection of a dog. Meanwhile, I tried to reconcile his joy with the things I was learning about the animal—quirks that made her sound less like a family pet and more like a long-term inmate at a women’s prison. The rescue volunteer softened each red flag with phrases like Oh, by the way and Not a big deal, but—.
“Before I forget, don’t bring her in in the morning until she has two bowel movements. Always two.”
Shortly after hearing “She was locked in a bathroom for two years, so she’s weird about baths”, I made up my mind. Adorable though she was, this dog was crazier than a soup sandwich.
The beast placed a paw on each of my son’s shoulders and frosted his face with excitable dog spit. Again he collapsed in giggles. As if they both felt the rejection coming, they looked at me like a pair of doe-eyed urchins who’d just met the villain in a Disney movie.
The volunteer must have felt it too. “She’s highly food-motivated, so she learns quickly.”
Finally, some common ground. I tugged at my jacket, its seams suffering from my own food motivation, and reconsidered. Thirty minutes later, over the wailing objections of my better judgement, we did it. Poppy was ours.
Poppy had a few quirks the shelter neglected to mention. Like oh, by the way, she will bark at everything that qualifies as a sound, including the microwave. Or one more thing, she is better at getting into trash cans than most teenage boys. And just so you know, it’s excruciating to wait for anything to have two bowel movements.
One morning, we were only one poop in when my patience ran out. Just as I was wondering what kind of food would motivate her to hurry up, Poppy darted away.
My darkest inclinations crept in. Dogs run away all the time, I thought. My better nature tried to push through, but was drowned out by the siren call of a life free from poop tracking. Good was losing. Then, a sudden rustling of leaves and Poppy was trotting toward me, the lifeless body of a squirrel clamped firmly in her jaws. She presented the gift at my feet, a prize from one food lover to another.
It was a moment that didn’t require words, an assurance that she’d protect me from all men with beards and the microwaves they tried to use. Oh by the way, it said, it’s good to be home.