Boomie in 2002
Nine years ago today, I brought Boomer home. This is the story of how he became my dog.
I had been looking for a dog since the fall of 2001, when in a post-9/11 funk, I felt I needed to find another dog for our family. We already had Maggie, and had seen her through a long and trying time of behavioral and health problems, and I thought having a companion would be good for her as well. But finding just the right dog turned out to take longer than I thought.
I knew I wanted a dog from a shelter or rescue. I looked at dogs from rescues first, and a lot of them, since at least they have some background information, and have often been fostered and evaluated for temperament, behavior, etc. But when it came time to meet the dogs, usually at an "adoption event", I found it hard to make a meaningful connection with them. Often, I couldn't get them to even look me in the eyes. I figured it was the location and general environment, together with the fact that these dogs had probably endured some hardships before and during their rescue, and they didn't quite feel like themselves yet.
In late February 2002, I met a dog named Ruffian. He was beautiful. Tall and slender, with a tri-colored coat. He was very shy, but sweet. After two meetings, he let me look into his eyes. I wondered if he was the one. I wanted him to be the one. I put a deposit on him, went home to think about it, and immediately, surprisingly, felt I had made a mistake. All night I regretted having started the process with Ruffian, and in the morning I called the rescue guy and apologized and said that I could not put my finger on it, but somewhow Ruffian was not the dog for me.
I felt very discouraged. I was ready to stop looking for a dog for a while, except that same morning, I still felt compelled to look at the website of our county shelter. As usual there was a long list of available dogs for adoption. One entry caught my eye, for a 3 year old male yellow lab. There was no picture of him. Strange, because usually the listings included a photo. But I instantly became interested, even excited about that lab. Why? What chance did I have that this dog would be right for me? A pound dog with no history, little background information, not even a name. Would he get along with Maggie? Was he even housebroken? The shelter couldn't assure me of anything. But I still felt very strongly that I needed to see that dog. I told myself that if he wasn't the one, I really was going to stop looking.
With nervous excitement, I drove to the animal shelter. I asked to see that particular dog, and they pointed me in the direction of his kennel. If you've ever been to an animal shelter, you know that it seems like all the dogs are barking at you as you walk through the rows of kennels. And many of them did. So did the male yellow lab, but he was different. He was clearly glad to see me. It almost seemed like he recognized me. I was allowed to go inside the kennel. He was so happy and attentive. I produced a tennis ball from inside my purse and tossed it the few feet that the kennel space would allow, and he retrieved it. A good sign!
From there, we were allowed time in the "get acquainted yard". The first thing the dog did was run to the opposite end of the yard for a big pee, but after that, he just wanted to be with me, and play ball. This was the one. I still had no idea if he would get along with Maggie, or if he had house manners. But I just felt that he was worth bringing home, and we would see how he did.
After I payed the fee and filled out the paperwork, he was mine. He had been relinquished to the shelter due to his owner moving. That's all the information they had. His owner didn't even list the dog's name. That would now be up to me. In all my searching for a dog, I hadn't even considered names. Except for Ruffian, who I had planned to rename Robbie, I hadn't gotten to the point of picking names for any prospective dogs. But after struggling to load him into the back of the Jeep, I looked at him and asked, "Should I call you Boomer?" His looked right at me and smiled to hear his new name, almost as if it had always been his name.
To be continued...