This guy came to live with Joe and me on Friday. We named him Charles Darwin but we’re mostly calling him Charlie, or Charlie D or Charlie Buddy or Charlie Butters or CHAAAHHLES or Charlesworth or Charliemange and, at least once, Charlene. Also, lots of singing, lots of horrible nonsense and strangely-pitched vocalizations. I’ve basically lost my mind. I am so in love with this little dude and feeling very woo-woo about the whole adoption experience. It has been weirdly meaningful and profound for something—human acquiring canine companion—that has been going for just about all of human-time. It feels somehow both “duh, yawn” and weirdly impossible until it happens to you and then it’s this earth-shattering, brain-exploding, Instagram-clogging EVENT. I would say “kind of like having a baby” but that seems both tempting fate AND the ire of actual parents of actual babies and those are things I would like to avoid right now, mostly because I am too busy cuddling this freckled Charlie who snoozes with his eyes rolled back into his skull but not fully closed, like a little fur-demon, like he’s here for my soul, and he might be.
When Joe and I started talking about adopting a dog a couple friends said, “Oh, when you find the right one, you’ll know, you’ll have a MOMENT,” and I wanted that to be true but I wasn’t counting on it. But then I met this guy. On Monday Joe and I decided that we would go to Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption on Saturday, and it seemed like a reasonable plan at the time, but by Wednesday I had fallen in love with a few from the shelter’s website and that afternoon felt a very strong and certain pull to go over there and see what was what, which sounded crazy but didn’t feel crazy, so I did. I met Ally McBeagle and Clancy and Jim and Mica and they were all very sweet and I began to think this would be harder than I expected, that there was no way we could pick out a dog to be our dog when there was a whole shelter, a whole world, full of dogs that we could love just enough.
But then there was this little scruffmonster. He had just been brought in Wednesday morning and wasn’t on the website, wasn’t fixed, wouldn’t be able to go home with anyone until at least Friday. The shelter had named him Frodo but I knew as soon as I met him that he would not be called Frodo for long because he was going to be our dog and our dog would absolutely not be called Frodo. When they brought him to me I think I said “Oh no,” because I knew he was it and it was him and because I also knew there was no way to guarantee that no one would come get him first before Joe and I could get over there on Saturday and my whole life felt suddenly on the verge of complete emotional ruination. In other words, I fell in deep stupid love. I KNEW. And Joe knew soon as I played the video of me saying, “You wanna be my buddy?” and him jumping up to put his two little freckled paws on my knees. We knew. We had the dang MOMENT. It’s real. Or maybe it’s not, but anyway, we had one.
The Dog Formerly Known As Frodo got fixed on Thursday and wasn’t available to adopt until Friday, and we couldn’t put a hold on him, and I was so afraid someone would get to him first and break my heart into a thousand little dogless pieces, so Joe and I cut out early from work on Friday, drove out to Smyrna and made him ours. I’m not sure anyone else even knew he was there. They listed him on the website about 20 minutes before we got there, when we were already on the way. We drove back across town in Friday rush-hour traffic with him sitting in my lap. When we got to the last big intersection before the turnoff to our house, he stood up and strained forward, sniffing around, like he knew. Did he know? Probably not, but maybe.
The first night and day he did a lot of looking around at us like, “OK, what’s the catch?” but I think now he’s starting to understand that even when we leave we are always coming back. He doesn’t know I was also feeling like there might be a catch, like we were suddenly going to see very clearly why whoever had him before no longer wanted him. He’s slept in at least three different crates over the last week, in three different cities, and who knows what before then. I didn’t think I would be so compelled by the mystery of his previous life. We know nothing about where he was before except for somewhere up around Gordon County in a home with a doorbell—his first night here, when a doorbell rang on TV, he sat up and looked up at our door for a long time. We have no doorbell. Who knows what else we have, or don’t have, that wherever he came from had, or didn’t.
Someone in his former life seems to have housebroken him, at least, so thank you for that, otherwise inexplicable person. Joe and I went out today and left him at home for the first time, just for a couple hours, and the whole time I kept checking my phone like maybe he was gonna text me.
"LOVE U MISS U WHERE U WHERE FOOD WHERE U WHERE U"
Meanwhile, a few of the dogs I met on Wednesday that were Not Charlie are still looking for homes. Clancy, Jim and Mica are all sweet sweet sweet little goobers and I feel oddly attached to them and keep checking the website to see if they’ve been scooped up yet. I want to be a dog matchmaker and find them all homes but I’m too busy rewriting every pop hit of the last 50 years to be about Charles Darwin the wonder schneagle (?!). But if you’re in the Atlanta area and looking to adopt a dog (or a cat), I really can’t say enough wonderful things about APRA. Every human we encountered there was extraordinarily sweet and helpful, the facilities are bright and nice and clean and well-taken care of, and they seem to give all the buddies as much love as they can, but you can give them MORE! Plus you can blame your farts on them, and they can’t say a thing. Sorry, Charlie.