My Dog

My dog, Finnegan.  Finn for short. A deep red coated golden retriever the size of a small horse.  No coyote would dare mess with him. If they found out that he likes marshmallows, plays tea party and gets his hackles up at seeing sparrows on the patio, well, let’s just say even the bunnies would have a good belly laugh.  I nicknamed him Barney Fife (remember the Andy Griffith show? I’m dating myself here).  Fearless Protector he’s not.  At 97lbs, there was a period where he was larger than my youngest child.  I had not intended on such a big dog.  I thought I authoritatively stated there would be no puppy either.  Man, am I a pushover.

It started out innocently enough  - the pursuit of a family dog.  Perhaps a dog would be a good idea for the girls as they made their new home in the Pacific NW, I thought.  Thinking long term, a dog would be a good companion for the times I would need to leave them alone – a necessary evil as a single parent.  So, as a writer, I set out to do my research.  Everything kept pointing to one breed as our perfect match and one breed only:  golden retriever.

“No, no, NO!” I would tell my kids. “Absolutely, NOT!  We cannot have such a big dog.  We live in a teeny tiny townhouse.”  I tried introducing other more lap sized breeds.  None of us liked them.  They would be hyper, or yappy or high strung.  Then we caught sight of a golden puppy.  Sigh.  Yup, you guessed it “Ooooh, he’s soooo cuuuuute.  Look at his little nose, mama!  He’s so fuzzy.”

“All RIGHT, ALL RIGHT ALREADY.  Yes, I agree.  But we can’t get a huge one.  No puppy!  And I MEAN it!”

Long story short, we got the puppy.  Don’t ask…

It was best to keep the girls out of the puppy picking.  The breeder informed me kids will often pick one that may not be right for the family.  The puppies will let you know who they want to go home with.  Okay, I thought.  She’s the expert.

So, one Fall day I went out to the countryside to a quintessential red barn farm to a breeder of goldens.  Next thing I knew I was in a sea of puppies.  I had my eye on one that seemed the right temperament, would grow to a reasonably small size.  I tried to coax that one into playing, but she would have nothing to do with me.  Then out of the mass of puppy mayhem emerges a chubby bubby puppy with paws so huge he tripped on them.  He walked like a roly poly bug with his huge tummy. He started heading toward me and all I could think was “Oh, no...” This bruiser of a pup showed no interest in romping with the crowd, instead choosing to stay 3 inches from my ankles. I tried to ignore him.  He looked up at me with his watery brown eyes and gave me  "the puppy face." Then the breeder says “Well, I guess he’s picked his family.”  “NOOOOOOO!”

Sigh.  I made out the check, signed the papers.  Upon leaving I asked the breeder “How big will he get?”  “Oh, he’s going to be huge.”  Groan.  What’ve I done?!

Fast forward nearly 4 years later and Finn is the neighborhood celebrity.  He comes with me to pick up my daughter from school everday. It’s his favorite time of day, greeting every kid that walks by with a smile and a wag.  He loves to chase tennis balls.  Admittedly, we play a joke on him where he’s sleeping soundly and one of us will shout “BALL!”  His head snaps to attention and he looks around like “I got it!  I got it!  Where is it?”  It’s cruel, I know, but…it really is funny.

He’s 97lbs of lovable gentle goofiness.  He hasn’t figured it out yet that he’s NOT a lap dog.  And even if I lived on a 72 acre ranch for him to roam around on, he would still be 3 inches from my ankles.  Just like when he was a puppy. But, man he is HUGE.

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