A Boy and A Dog

17 Jul

They say a dog is a man’s best friend and I have always believed it. There is something intrinsically calming about having a dog by your side. They are the penultimate companion. They know when you’re happy, they sense when you are sad, they know what to do to make you smile, and they hate making you mad almost as much as you hate being mad. They are quick to please and maybe that is exactly what people love about them. In a world where so few are willing to go out of their way to please each other, a dog is that being that always strives to leave you with a smile. It is no wonder why they are more than just a pet — they are family.

Ever since I was a small kid I have wanted a dog for myself for all of the reasons I have just laid out above. Not just to have a family dog, but to have one of my own. My parents were reluctant if not downright realistic with turning me down and allowing me to settle with a family pup. We always had a dog but it was never mine… and while that was ok I still really just wanted a dog of my own. I don’t think I can really describe why exactly I wanted the dog to be mine, but I did. After college I attempted to adopt a dog but after only two days I realized that not only were we not a good fit but also that my work schedule did not really allow for me to spend the time with a rescue dog that was required. I had to give him back which brought me back to square one. Once I met The Mrs,  I quasi-adopted Moegley as my own regardless of the fact that he literally hated my guts and didn’t come out from his hiding place under the bed except when I wasn’t around. Moe and I developed an understanding that as long as I would scratch his ears every so often and not kick him off the bed at night then we would be the best of friends. So then while I finally had more of my own dog — ok so he was really Josie’s dog and he made that clear whenever he could — I still didn’t really have my dog.

As close as Moe and I get!

As close as Moe and I get!

All of this changed this year. One day back in late March Jos came upstairs and randomly said, “We should adopt a dog”. I looked at her with something close to dumbfounded awe. Uh, say what? We should get a dog? Where did that come from!?

Wait! Why was I even arguing? A dog?! Heck yes!
I dove headlong into a search for the perfect dog to add to our never-sit-still family lifestyle. She quickly got tired of my searching and drug me directly to the local humane society. We walked around and looked at all of the dogs available, but none really struck me as the one. I couldn’t tell you what I really wanted, but I just wasn’t getting that feeling, wasn’t feeling the vibe. We met a couple of dogs but we didn’t seem to connect… so back home we went. I didn’t think much of it and ended up going out to play a round of golf the next morning. When I returned home, I returned home to a wife that looked up at me with tear-stained cheeks.

We have to go get one of those dogs, Joel! We have so much LOVE to give!

Apparently the entire time I was out absent-mindedly chasing a white ball around the hillside, my insanely compassionate wife was struggling with the fact that we could easily save one of those dog’s lives. So back to the humane society we drove. As we walked through all of the available dogs for the second time in as many days I noticed a new puppy that hadn’t been there. He was a little black ball, some sort of labrador mix and full of spunk. I loved him. He was nearly perfect. And at 6-months old my first thought was how he and Nolan would get to grow up together. How cool would that be!?
After we met with the little guy we knew without a doubt he was a perfect fit. He would be ours, there wasn’t a doubt. His name: Baloo.

Fast-forward a few months and let me just be blunt — it hasn’t been a fairy tale story for our Jungle Book fam. There was the immediate realization that we would have to break 6-months of kennel life — peeing and pooping IMG_2293anywhere and everywhere, with absolutely zero boundaries or rules. Then there was the pinky sized hole he dug into our brand spankin’ new hardwood floors. There was the hole he dug in our barely rooted new sod in the back yard. There was the chewing that every puppy goes through, like the time he chewed up the stereo knobs in the Mrs’ car. And here was/is the haphazard, full-bore running through the house, and the dragging you instead of walking with you. But slowly he has learned what he can and can’t do, and we’ve gained a large amount of patience for our spunk-filled monster. Some days, Moegley even tolerates him! He has proven time and time again how perfect of a fit he is for our family. However, the greatest part of the entire story is how he and Nolan have connected. Baloo is relatively small for being part-lab (he is just under 40 lbs) but he is still nearly double the size of Nolan. You would never know that. It is incredible how Baloo just innately knows that Nolan is something he has to be very careful with and around. Even better is how he tolerates Nolan’s constant pestering by answering with a big, sloppy kiss. From pulling on his tail to straight-up body slamming the pup, Nolan has tested this dog in every aspect imaginable and Baloo has never even shown his teeth. Sure there were times when Baloo would get a little carried away and forget his size knocking his little brother to the floor. But at the end of the day there is almost no separating the two of them.

Nolan often shares/steals Baloo’s bed while he is napping and is always quick to bring Baloo a toy or pat him on the head. He loves giving B-dog big open-mouthed kisses and then giggles with delight. Noles is also very adept at rewarding Baloo for anything and everything. He has figured out where the dog treats are in the pantry and has spilled them all out on the floor on more than one occassion — Baloo is the cursory gentleman and only takes one, of course. The way the two of them interact makes my heart warm. Every time I see them together my musically themed mind immediately starts playing “We Are Gonna Be Friends” by the White Stripes. It is the most fitting theme song, the soundtrack of Nolan and Baloo.

Ok, so maybe I still don’t have my own dog. But coming home and having both Baloo and Nolan run around the corner to greet me makes me realize I have something much, much better. I have a boy and his dog.

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