We drove out to a farm to pick out our new family puppy.
We selected the breeder specifically because they only have one litter a year which made us feel slightly better for abandoning the SPCA, which is where we found our last (AWESOME AND SORELY MISSED) dog, and what I still feel guilty about not repeating. We’ll be back for our next dog, SPCA!! Or Humane Society!! But my daughter was equal parts desperate for a dog + terrified of certain personality quirks, so we picked our breed carefully. And that brought us to that day a year ago.
We picked carefully through a squirming bunch of black female labs. (And I can hear you now. You chose your breed carefully. Because your daughter was terrified of certain personality quirks. And you chose the high energy lab puppy to bring home. Good one, Stephanie. But she is a sweetheart despite her earnest belief that she should always be able to jump up to execute an energetic bear hug or to lick any exposed piece of skin until it’s thoroughly pruney, or to act like a maniac whenever the mood strikes.) But I digress. As I was saying, we were there in the middle of a group of little, black females. Each one cuter than the next. Female, because they are supposed to be smaller. And she is a small lab, 14 months later. Black, because our last dog was a black lab mix. A very interesting mix. But there was definitely black lab in there. She was the sweetest dog, and I grieved for over a year when she died. It took me 5 years to be able to talk about her without tearing up. I don’t love my pets, I LOVE MY PETS. You can judge. I’ll give you a few moments.
So, we brought ribbons to tie around the necks of the pups so we could differentiate and make our decision easier. I can hear you snorting with laughter now. I’m snorting as well. But at the time, I thought it ingenious. And, of course, I did. It was my idea. So, we tied a green ribbon around one of the bigger girls who was a little charmer. She stole our heart and grabbed an early lead on the others. But that was before Curly set her sights on us. Curly received a ribbon early. I believe it was blue. She dispensed with it so quickly, I really can’t be sure. She was a little ball of energy and adorable mischief that you really couldn’t take your eyes off of, and she took over the top slot from Greenie. We decided to ignore the fact that she had removed the ribbon while looking at us disdainfully and gave her our hearts. We nicknamed her Curly since she was the only one with a curly tail. This helped differentiate her. But it became impossible to misidentify her as the afternoon progressed.
Since Curly was our pick, we settled in for a bit to watch her interact with her sisters. We just wanted to get some insight into her behavior, and we wanted to see when she would finally nap. HA! Curly decided that she needed to make sure this wasn’t a passive process from her side of things and began to test us. First, she made sure that she would be able to treat any other animals in the house as she pleased. Since she didn’t know if we had other pets, she just needed to see if we would stop her if she treated any of her sisters poorly. So, she began to assault them. Poor Greenie received some mistreatment and began to whine. Unfairly or not, we decided that Greenie wasn’t the pup for us should our love affair with Curly end due to the fact that her whining never really stopped from that point on. Curly pranced around the rest of her sisters and administered swats and kicks, charley horses and noogies, she stuck her tongue out, and body slammed most of them at least twice. She was pretty bloodthirsty. But we called her spirited in order to maintain our love for her. So, she decided to administer another test. She began to eye my son, JT. And she eyed a big stack of newspapers placed behind him. She eyed him. She eyed the newspapers. Eyed him. The newspapers. Him. Newspapers. JT began to twitch slightly but held his ground because: puppy. What’s a little puppy going to do? And she launched herself. And hit him in the chest when she landed. A bit too low. She returned to her spot and eyed JT again. JT laughed. She eyed the newspapers. JT. Newspapers. JUMP. She landed on JT’s chest again. JT laughed, but this time there was less humor and a little bit of internal thought that we could all hear, “WTH is going on with this puppy? Is she possessed? I’m a little scared of her now. I don’t want to admit that though because she’s tiny. She can’t hurt me at all. BUT SHE’S CLEARLY NOT SANE!” Curly returned to her spot. JT. Newspapers. JT. Newspapers. JT began to twitch. Curly jumped OVER JT and landed on the newspapers. We all looked at each other and IMMEDIATELY back at Curly because who knew what she would do next but surely it would include garroting one of us with some twine she had found binding the newspapers. Opposable thumbs be damned.
We all silently agreed to fall out of love with Curly and to select from the small bundle of puppies slumbering peacefully beside us. We pointed at one of the three that looked small and heartbreakingly adorable. Matthew picked her up and she continued to sleep peacefully. The decision was made. And Lexi joined our family.