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How I came to love my Charger


December 05, 2013
I love dogs. You'd think I wouldn't, having been flattened by a neighbor's dog when I was 11, but I don't blame his momentary lapse in judgment on the entire species.

We had a revolving door of strays and rescues in our house growing up. Each dog came with his own dysfunction, some personality defect that, sooner or later, was deemed intolerable by my father, Mr. Clean, and off he went. Poop on the rug? Dad's not happy. Ate the birthday cake off the table? Really not happy. Scratched a hole right through the door?

Three strikes. Buuh-bye.

Benji, the Springer Spaniel, spent more time in the air than paws on the ground. It was like living with a giant rubber ball. Joey, the Cocker Spaniel, preferred the taste of shoes and purses over ham bones. Sash, the Standard Poodle, spent his days creating nose art on our bay window. Tanya, the German Shepherd, loved the cool freshness of toilet water and a tasty morning bite of the legs of the paper boy and mailman.

Then there was Beagie, the foster Beagle, who had an air of entitlement like a Kardashian. He was a taker, not a giver. He had it out for upholstery: chewing it here, vomiting on it there and lifting his leg to it everywhere. He'd wait until you'd found your sweet spot of sleep and then bark like a buzz saw. Just when you'd drift back, he'd reignite. I'm pretty sure he was laughing through it all. During the day, we'd find him under the covers of my brother's bed, head on the pillow.

Oliver the Airedale, restored my faith in canines. He was BFF material — at your side, head on your leg, patient eyes — but he was stubborn like wet denim. When he decided he had walked enough in the snow, he cemented his hind legs in the bank.

At home, he kept one eye on the door, never missing an opportunity for a prison break. We spent half his life scouring neighborhoods and corralling him back into the car.

The one thing Oliver taught me was to never back down. The kids and I had been holding our ground all these years in a campaign to adopt a dog. Hubs wasn't having it.

Then one day we saw him on Petfinder. His name was Charger — 15 pounds of marshmallow curly, face like a polar bear cub.

It was as if there were no other dogs to be had.

We showed Hubs the photo, fully knowing he'd say no. And he did. But what we didn't expect was the faint smile that made its way across his face. There was the crack in the door.

I presented my case: the kids were 15 and 13. They had waited long enough. He doesn't shed. We're getting a dog.

Before he could reaffirm his objection, I had an appointment with Bichon FurKids Rescue. Charger was available.

For years, we told our friends that we wanted a dog that didn't bark, bite, beg, jump, growl, whine, drool, lick, shed, eat your shoes, scratch the door, pee in the car, chase the repairman, drink from the toilet and other egregious offenses.

They laughed and suggested a stuffed dog.

Apparently the order was well received by the doggy adoption gods, because Charger is all that: 100 percent sweetness. Better behaved than anyone in this house. My kids still argue over who had the dog first, as if there aren't enough hours in a day to share him.

My husband says I have crossed over from dog admirer to crazy dog lady. I don't think that's fair at all. He says I talk about Charger to family, friends and anyone who has ears. Hey, people seem very interested in seeing the Charger photo album. And then there's the video collection.

What my husband won't admit is how his heart has doubled in size. I overheard him saying to Charger, "Do you know how much I love you?"

It's been two years since Charger became a part of our family. And we realize now, that we needed him even more than he needed us.

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