Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy 12th Birthday, Teddy!

Twelve years ago today, you were born (That would be 1998 for those of you that are math-challenged like me). You had one sister, who was named Eleanor. Apparently, your mother died in birth, and you and your sister were left on the doorstep to the Norfolk SPCA in a box, your mother in a bag next to you.

The first person to arrive for work was a woman named Dianne (if my memory serves me correctly). She worked for the SPCA for more than 20 years. Immediately, she fed the two of you. Later that evening, she took you and your sister home to raise you.

Fast forward to the first week in June. I'd been living in my first house with my first roommate just off campus since March. Coming from the house I grew up in, where we rescued animals, I missed having a dog. I'd left five at my parents' house. My boyfriend at the time was on his way to take me to lunch. Instead, we ended up at the Norfolk SPCA.

When I first saw you, you were hiding in the corner. Your sister and you were in one cage, she was all over the place. It was instantly obvious why Dianne named you Teddy, you looked just like a little teddy bear—with oversized legs and feet. I was smitten. Dianne told me the story of how you came to her, you were claimed to be a "Lab/Shepherd mix". You were six weeks old that day, and she'd decided you were ready to find a forever home. I filled out the information and brought you home to meet my roommate and her dog, Jasmine Marie (My roommate didn't have a middle name, so she gave her dog one).

The fun part began when I took you to my parents' veterinarian and he was scared to tell me (but told my mom instead) that you were Great Dane, not Shepherd. Which explained your ginormous feet. And appetite.

You tried my patients, chewing everything you could. You peed all over the carpet. And you had an affinity for expensive underwear, but normally only when we had people over. You loved rawhide bones that were bigger than you, and normally you ate them within 3 days. You loved to ride in the car. And you loved your soccer ball. You didn't care for the tide at the beach, but the first time you saw a pool, you ran and jumped right in.

Then we stayed overnight for our first Christmas at my parents' house, and my father came to get you out of my room to go outside with the gaggle of hounds. Later that morning, he said to me, "You really have a good, well-behaved dog." And then you proceeded to win over my mother by sitting at her side while she cooked, not begging, not being a nuisance. I found out later she had a pocket full of treats and was slipping them to you all day.

Now, twelve years later, you've chewed up one pair of brand new New Balance shoes (ever wonder what the real use of the "tongue" is in your shoes? Try wearing them without one), two couches, the electrical cord to a fan (that was plugged in), and one Cox Cable remote control—where the service rep informed me I "should not let my dog chew on the remote..." I told her it wasn't like I ran out of Snausages. You have caught one bird (who knew you could move so fast), one opossum (thanks for that), and somehow missed a chipmunk being in the same room as you for hours. You detest premium dog food and have always preferred the cheap stuff. You won't drink from a clean water bowl, you prefer snarfle in it. You don't like to be outside on your own, only if I'm out there. Unless you're laying on the deck in the sun. You get anxious in the car, but if someone says "wanna go for a ride?" you will push your way into the first vehicle with an open door. You have a bark that scares the beejebus out of most people but have only bitten one person. And as my mother says, you don't seem to age much, you've been in a state of shock since Avery was born.

Happy 12th birthday, Teddy Bear. Or "Theo" as Grammy refers to you. I've enjoyed you being part of my life. But you're not getting a cake because you took it upon yourself to celebrate this morning by eating a library book. And washed it down with some carpet, because apparently that's how you roll. Or was it the remainder of garlic mashed potatoes I fed you last night?

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