Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Herbie The Wonder Dog

I had a couple of failed adoption attempts back in March, and they broke my heart. They reminded me of going to the SPCA in search of the perfect companion and walking by cage after cage of big dogs with sad eyes wanting so badly to be the one that came home with me that their pleading energy was palpable. I left because I knew that large breeds were unsuitable for apartment living, but was heart sick to leave them all behind.

I cried.

My sister adopted Tucker, a beagle mix, from her local SPCA and they both fell so immediately in love with each other that when she left on a week-long trip he suffered separation anxiety even though he was well cared for. Another sister adopted a golden retriever named Charlie who has boundless energy but doesn't bark because his previous owner duct taped his mouth shut.

I wanted one too, but twice the adoptions fell through at the last minute, leaving me emotionally attached and unfulfilled. But the moment I held Herbie in my arms for the first time, I knew it was meant to be. He was meant to come home with me.

Herbie is 5.5 pounds of pure crazy. He rips around my apartment as if it's his own personal obstacle course, deking around chairs, body-checking himself off my bed, bounding out of corners, flying off the couch, and all at the highest speeds achievable by 2-inch legs. And then he'll tire himself out, flop over onto his back, and sleep soundly with his belly exposed and all 4 paws in the air.
He loves car rides and walks. He makes friends wherever he goes. People constantly stop us on the street to say how cute he is, but they needn't bother, because he already knows it. His favourite part of the day is walking down the hall to the trash chute. He often finds treasures along the way: once some takeaway fries, and another time a coffee stir stick that he idolised for 30 whole seconds. Fortunately for Herbie, we take that walk many times a day because Herbie, though small, makes an impressive amount of waste.

Herbie has two girlfriends. One is a rubber chicken named Dolores whom he cuddles with at night and does naughty things to make her bawk during the day. The other is a border collie mix named Mika who is nearly 5 times his size. Mika licks him until he's dripping with her slobber and then they run together, Herbie running underneath her legs in perfect time. When Herbie grabs onto her, she swipes him around as if he's a mop, and they both seem to think that this is great fun.
Herbie has an excellent nose for fun. Everything is a game with him. He likes to collect all of his toys and pile them in his bed. He seems to believe that his bed is his home base, perhaps protected by a magic force field because if he hides something there, he truly believes that no one can ever find it. If he gets ahold of your shoe, guaranteed he runs toward his bed with it. Once it's there, it's his. And it's awfully funny to see Herbie carting around objects that are often bigger than he is. Even shoes can outweigh him, but he's persistent and tireless and he gets the job done. Underwear and socks are particular favourites of his and if I can't find Herbie, he's usually burrowed in my laundry basket having the time of his life. I'm pretty sure that when they say all dogs go to heaven, they mean a big stinking pile of dirty clothes.

Sure there are things I never thought I'd hear myself say until I had a Herbie:
Please stop licking my armpit.
Quit humping Max Keeping!
Make a poopie and then we can cuddle.
Please stop doing unmentionable things to my shoe.
If you keep sticking your head between the balcony rungs, it's gonna get stuck.
I appreciate your amorous efforts, but my arm isn't getting anything out of that.

But no matter how you slice it, no matter who has recently peed on my duvet or stopped to poop at a busy intersection or knocked all the bottles off the edge of the tub, I love this little guy. It helps that he has those proverbial puppy dog eyes. He's just too easy to forgive. But I know that I am fortunate, and that he was worth the wait.
He makes my home a happier place.
You just have to watch where you step.

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