Sunday, March 11, 2007
I spent Saturday sitting behind the wheel of my van, from 6 in the morning until 9:30 at night.
I drove from Farmington, Maine, to Salt Point, New York, and back, a distance of about 750 miles. Salt Point is where Melissa Carlin lives. Melissa is a breeder of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, who produced Jack, my (now) ex-girlfriend Donna's dog, and Cole, her current dog. She also had owned Nikki, an African-born champion who then "retired" to live with my son, Jed, and his family, and she was one of two breeders who produced my own dear Nellie Bly. (The other was Destry's breeder -- Nell was his niece.)
When I had to put Nellie down in December, Melissa made an offer that I turned down. She had a bitch, Ziwa, who was ready to retire from breeding and the show ring, and she wanted to find this sweet girl a nice place to live. If I wanted her, she was mine.
I pondered this for a time, but said no, that I wanted to be a one-dog family now. And I did. But Destry didn't. Now, I don't ascribe a lot of rational thought to dogs, and Des wasn't wandering around the house looking for Nellie. But he simply didn't function as well as a solo dog as he had when Nellie was there to give him some companionship and backup.
So I got back in touch with Melissa, and the result was that, as of yesterday, Ziwa is now part of our family. She's a very nice Australian-born girl with soft fur and a relatively sweet disposition. I say "relatively sweet" because she's no pushover. With Destry on first meeting, and then with our Labrador buddy Spike McManus today, she gives a quick snap and bark to say, "Don't push it, bud." But she's not unpleasant and is, in fact, funny and affectionate and, once she gets her feet under her, will be a cuddler.
I like a girl with a little snap, who is willing to set the limits but without rancour or attitude. She's a mom and has some ideas of how people ought to behave, but she's a lover.
And she and Des have already begun to play. They don't cuddle yet, but I'd be surprised if they did, within the first 24 hours. They like each other, and more affection will follow.
As for the thing about being a one-dog family, well, it's a conversation I'll have with Ziwa in a few years. I had always figured that Nellie and I would end up alone, and the difference is that Ziwa is two years younger, and a little more assertive.
I already love this girl.