A few weeks ago, our dog Calvin got a new next-door neighbor, a mixed breed puppy name of Mickie. Calvin is eleven and going strong. His attitude toward Mickie can be interpreted, I think, as stoic contempt.
Mickie playfully pulls at Calvin's leash. Calvin ignores him. Mickie jumps on Calvinâ€™s back. No reaction. Mickie slaps Calvin in the head with his paw. Nothing. Mickie does it again. Calvin's had enough. He bares his teeth, growls and takes one quick lunge toward the puppy. He doesn't lay a paw on the kid. The kid gets the message. Neighborhood hierarchy is in the process of being established.
Mickie replaces the neighborhood celebrity and friend of all mankind Eagan Burke, who passed away last year. If my early read on nature is any indication, and if the nurture is as good as that applied to previous dogs and current grown daughters, then I'd say Mickie will reassume that mantel in a short while.
It's an act of optimism to get a new dog, especially when you've recently eased an old friend out of this life. It's even more an act of blind faith than having a child. In the normal course of events, we expect our children to bury us. But the owners of a new puppy go into the endeavor with the knowledge that if everything goes as planned, then one day they'll have to say goodbye again.
Calvin is our second dog and I'm sure there will be a third someday. I suppose those of us who do this go through life with a series of dogs because the sadness of the endings is worth all the years of pure joy these guys give us.
Within a day of arriving next door, Mickie, who wasn't sure yet exactly what the protocol was for relieving himself, knew where home was. Taken for short walks, he'd turn around and head back to the Burke's front stoop. And, I'm certain that if I left Calvin off his leash and disappeared three blocks away, he'd show up at our door -- probably really pissed -- in about five minutes.
Someone once wrote that home is the place where, when you go there, they have to let you in. Dogs know that instinctively sometimes within hours of their arrival. They immediately claim their place under our roofs, no questions asked. It goes without saying that we'll take care of them and they'll take care of us.
Welcome home, Mickie. Here's to a long, happy life in the neighborhood.