Thursday, September 25, 2008

The New Dog -- An Overdue Update

It's been a few weeks since "Sid" joined my home. I thought his name was "Zeke" because that's what the shelter told me, but when I went to pick him up and they handed me his vaccination records from the previous owner we noticed that right at the top it said "Sid." We called him "Zeke" a few times but he would not respond, so I called him "Sid" and he started obeying all the basic commands. Poor doggie -- I'm sure he was completely confused while he was in the shelter and everyone kept calling him Zeke. The lady who runs the shelter has so many dogs running around, so I can't really blame her for not keeping all their names straight.

My wonderful sister, Connie, drove with me to Oklahoma to pick him up. You know, on the map, Oklahoma doesn't really look too far away... but, believe me, it is VERY, VERY, VERY far away and I NEVER need to go there again. It was about 18 hours each way from my house and we drove straight there, picked up Sid, got back in the car and drove back... Well, not all the way back, because my sister lives near Denver so we only drove as far back as her house (that was about 11 hours each way) and then I stayed there for two nights.

The first thing I thought when I saw Sid was "oh my gosh -- he's so dang huge!!!" He's only a year old and he weighs 20 lbs more than Claire (who is three years old). He stank, of course, from being in the shelter, and he looked really sad and confused. He jumped into the back of the Jeep and layed down right away. I think he was happy to be getting out of the shelter and would have gone with anyone. Claire wouldn't get near him, so he laid at the very back of the Jeep and Claire laid as close to the front of the Jeep as she could and kept her eyes on him and occassionally growled. As the hours and hours passed, as we drove back to Colorado, we noticed that Sid and Claire were slowly inching closer and closer to each other and by the time we reached my sister's house they were practically spooning and making out. Since then, they've become best friends and you can't separate them.

At my sister's house they played a lot in her huge back yard and, apparently, both ate a lot of grass. The morning we were to head back to Salt Lake City, I was awakened by the unmistakeable sound of a dog in the pre-gag stages of an incredibly large vomit. I jumped out of bed and flipped on the lights and found Sid with his head under my bed in full gag reflex mode. I grabbed his collar to head for the back door really fast, but I couldn't budge him -- he's 90 lbs of dead weight -- so he just vomited a huge pile of dog food and grass right under the bed. Then, he got up, walked three feet, and vomitted another huge pile of the stuff under a weight bench. I was freaked out and was sure I had made the worst decision to adopt another giant dog. But, within about 30 minutes, I'd gotten over it and was in love with him again. So, we loaded up and headed across the Wyoming wilderness on our way home. Somewhere in the middle of Wyoming, 35 miles from the nearest rest stop or ghost town, going 95 miles an hour because I was so sick and tired of being in that car, I heard that unmistakeable sound of a dog preparing to vomit. I looked in the rearview mirror to see Claire in gag reflex mode. I knew I could do nothing, so I just had to let her barf. Sid was laying down on his giant dog bed and Claire just let it fly all over his back side. I yelled "STAY!!!!" at both of them and Sid just sat there, looking like the Sphinx, stuck in a motionless pose staring into the rearview mirror making perfect eye contact with me, as if to say "What the HELL just happened to me!!!???!!!???" But, Claire did not obey and jumped into the front passenger seat and stared out the front window as if she was carsick and knew that sitting in the front was going to cure her. We drove 35 miles to the next town where I pulled into the first gas station to clean them up. Sid, bless his heart, did not move one bit until I had wiped Claire's vomit off his butt, then he jumped out and stood right by me until I had thoroughly wiped him down with wet paper towels. I was so tired and so grossed out by the whole experience that I almost left the both of them right there in that little Wyoming town, but I knew I'd have a guilty conscience for the rest of eternity and would probably burn in hell. So, I loaded them back up, choked back my tears, and drove the rest of the way to Salt Lake City. I was so happy to get home, but as I looked at my two giant dogs laying on my living room floor, I wondered to myself what on earth I was thinking!!! My house certainly did not seem big enough for two huge dogs! I'd completely thrown out of balance mine and Claire's comfortable routine that we'd worked three years to get into perfect harmony and rythym. What would become of my well-manicured lawn!?!?!?! I was having the worst buyer's remorse imaginable, so I got in bed and pulled the covers over my head and prayed that I would wake up feeling charity for my new dog. When the next morning came, I still didn't feel much charity, but I gave him a bath and that made him not so annoying. I was ashamed of myself for being such a wimp and not wanting this new dog that I had been so excited about adopting!!! The second day at home was a little bit better, but I still kept secretly hoping that maybe he'd runaway or something... But, by the third day, I was head over heals in love with my new doggie and the bond has only grown stronger since! Now, I couldn't imagine my home without this new big, clumsy one-year-old 90-lb Ridgeback named Sid. And, I think if he weren't here, Claire would sink into a deep dark depression.

So, it's ended up being a really, really good thing for us. He's sweet and practically perfect. He hasn't had one single accident in the house. He sits and lays down and stays and comes -- all the basic commands. He gives big sloppy kisses to those he loves and giant warm hugs whenever I come home, no matter if I've been gone 30 minutes or five days. His face turned from sad and confused to extremely happy within the first day of being here in his new home, and it's been permanently happy ever since. He's huge, as I've said, but he still wants to be my little lap dog. He lays his giant head in my lap and then will slowly put one giant paw at a time up on my lap to see if I'll actually let him try to get on my lap -- I only let him sit on me if I'm on the floor. When I'm working, he lays at my feet, but sometimes stands right next to me and rests his chin on the edge of my desk and watches me work. Claire prefers to lay in her dog bed in the living room while I work, but Sid prefers to stay right by me... Claire comes in to check on him and me a few times a day and will always give me a lick on the arm and then will give Sid several licks on the mouth before going back to her favorite spot.

I'm really happy with my decision to adopt Sid. It seems it was meant to be! And, for any of you thinking about adopting a second dog (or even a first or third) -- just remember that you may regret your decision for the first few days or even weeks, but give yourself time to adjust and you'll eventually be so happy to have your new companion sharing your home and giving you all the unconditional love that animals are only capable of giving!

My Ecuador Family

I just got back from Ecuador two days ago. I went for five whole days... not long, I know, but, I was missing my little family down there, so I took a quick trip down to check on them. They're doing great and here are some photos so you can see the faces of the Ecuadorians who have my heart. From left to right: Jean Carlos (11), Dany Ruben (8), and Abrahim (12). In this next photo you see the mom, Liliam. She and I have been close friends since I was a missionary in Ecuador. We're the same age, so when I was a missionary she helped us out a lot and we've been in touch ever since and that's been about 20 years!!! When I was a missionary, her mom cooked lunch for us everyday so I got to know the family pretty well. After my mission, Liliam eventually got married and had these three wonderful boys, but then ended up divorced after a long spell of tragic abuse. Fortunately, she's been able to create a stable home for the boys and is truly one of the most amazing people I know.

While I was there we spent a couple of days at their house fixing some plumbing problems and just catching up with each other. Then, the five of us went to a beach resort town for three days and nights and had a little vacation together. It was a blast and I miss them terribly, but I'm going back to spend Christmas with them!