Most people get dogs for one of three reasons: you lose your job; your kids need a friend who won’t criticize them when they screw up; or in today’s world a dollop of unconditional love every day goes a long way.
I recently re-homed a standard poodle. “Re-homing” is different from “rescuing”. In re-homing you have to pay the owner, not a shelter. And you don’t have to go through a whole bunch of questions shelter people always ask.
“How big is your house?” “Do you have a fenced-in yard”. “Do you know what a pooper scooper is?” (The proper answers are: “3 BR, 2 Baths”, “Yes”, “Ugh! Yes “.)
The re-home person asks two questions: “How do you like the dog?” “Do you have cash?” (Correct answers: “Yes” and “Yes”). See? Much easier.
Our family had a French poodle that died three years ago. Philo was absolutely the best dog, not because he was a good family dog, which he was, but because he offered wisdom few other dogs offer. And he did it in English, French and Bark!
I meet the re-homer at a dog park and watch her poodle barking and romping with some other dogs. He wanders over to her, and then sits directly in front of me and sniffs – long and hard.
“Why do you want a dog?” he asks.
“Hey! Pay attention, please. Why do you want a dog?”
“Philo? Is that you?” I stammer.
“Oh great!” says the dog. “Answer a question with a question. Another one with no manners.” He trots back off to the other dogs.
I’m flabbergasted. Bark! And English? Is this Philo re-incarnated? Nah! Can’t be. No French.
His owner looks at me a little sheepishly. “I’m sorry.” She says.” I thought he only did that with me.”
“Hey!” from amongst the dogs. “I’m listening. Dogs have good hearing, you know.”
“But that’s not why I have to re-home him”, she whispers. “I’ve had to move because of a new job and my new apartment doesn’t allow dogs, so…” It must be hard. I decide to get this over quickly.
“OK.” He trots back up and sits directly in front of me. “Time for the interview.”
“What interview?” I say, handing her the cash.
“The interview to see if we make a good fit,” says the dog.
“Sorry”, she says, “he insisted…” She pats his head and he licks her hand.
“This wasn’t my idea”, he says to me. “I was perfectly happy with her.”
Then, “what kind of dog food will you feed me?”
“Uh… I don’t know…Something healthy.” He looks down his nose at me.
“We’ll let that go for a minute? Where will I sleep?”
“On the floor.”
“On the floor!? What do you think I am? A Golden Retriever!?”
(A very arrogant Poodle, I think). But I say, “It’s a nice floor and there are rugs… (he looks back at her as she pauses in counting the money). “OK”, I say, “I’ll get you a dog bed!”
He shows his teeth. (Is that a smile or is he about to bite me?)
“How many times a day will you take me for a walk?”
“How many times will you poop in the house?” (I’m getting a little annoyed.) But then, “OK… two, morning and night, right after I feed you.”
”No, two poops in the house. I’m only partially house trained.”
“I have to work and…” she says.
“OK. Four walks a day.”
“Done, unless your dog food makes me sick. Then the number goes wa-a-a-y up”. He starts off toward the other dogs.
“Is that it?” I ask her.
“Yes”, he interrupts, before she can answer. “How complicated do you think dogs are?”
She smiles and gives him a hug.
“Be good”, she says. “I’ll miss you.”
He licks her cheek. “Don’t be sad. I understand.”
I leash him up and we walk toward the car. He looks back at her. “Don’t worry. It won’t take long.” He says to her.
“What won’t take long”, I ask.
“To train you.” He hops in the car.
I sigh and get in. “Good-bye” I say to her. “Any time you want to see him, give me call.” She nods.
I start the car and he looks at her as we pull away. “A bientot, mon amie.”