… on becoming a real dog (or not)


Puppy MDD

I’m not the type of person to call my dogs ‘fur babies’ or dress them up in outfits or let them lick ice cream off my spoon..

That’s a lie, that last one. But you should see Blaze’s pathetic ‘Is that vanilla?’ stare.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally okay if you do the fur-baby-dressed-up-in-outfits thing.  I mean, you might want to seek professional help if you start bringing your schnauzer to your Ob/Gyn or family therapist vs. your local trusted veterinarian but, beyond that, have at it.

Anyway, in general, I love my dogs.  And each one I have ever had the pleasure of living with has been different.

They always are.

The reality is that each enters your heart in their own unique, and often idiosyncratic way.  Some hang out a little closer to the surface.  Some sink in a bit, settling in for a great life with you.  And then, every once in a while, a dog shows up in your life and you fall.


Sometimes you know right away, sometimes they wheedle their way in over time.

Maybe you chose the puppy from a breeder and excitedly waited for your wiggly bundle of joy.

Maybe you told yourself you were casually perusing Petfinder for the heck of it, over the course of days or weeks or months, and then…. then you saw that face, and you just knew.

Or maybe one showed up – a skinny, stray hanging around your house. Maybe a friend’s kid was allergic and their dog needed your home.

It doesn’t matter.

The great ones show up, your heart takes them in, way down deep inside, and they are forever with you.

For me, that was ‘T’.

For JoHn, it is Marshal.




The story of T and Marshal – well, the ‘T’ part – would fall into the ‘tragic love story’ genre, I think. And it was.

But the other part – the ‘Marshal’ part – is pure love story.

And it’s pathetic.

I did not know Marshal when I drove away from the vets, having just said good-bye to T.  I was a totally-crushed rainbow-hating mess. I needed to wallow in that for a while.

A week and two days later, the unnamed puppy who would become Marshal Dillon Dingle was staring at me from a wire crate set in a quiet hallway.

My friend, his breeder, was in crisis – needing to move herself and her dogs from her beloved dream of a farm, which she had bought by herself years before she got married, and was now losing in the process of a bitter divorce.  It was awful, the whole situation.

I offered to take the unnamed puppy, the only little one she had with her at the time, for a night or two while she got herself and the other dogs ready for a long journey.

My heart was not open to a new dog.

JoHn’s brain was not open for a new mouth to feed. JoHn was happy to be down to three dogs. Four was too many.

And our house was sad.

So when I walked in from the November night with ten week old ‘unnamed puppy’, all lick-y face and cute, everyone coo’d and awe’d and we played and snuggled and allowed the salve of puppy belly and breath to sooth our hearts.

And then JoHn picked him up.

And I swear to Gawd that man did not put that puppy down until the damn dog weighted 65 pounds.

It was love at first pick-up, well, it was probably at first sight, but they were both playing it cool (Okay, John was playing it cool. Marshal turned on all the charm a puppy could.)

So he stayed.

And last week, when one of those reminder cards from the vet showed up in the mail, I  marveled at the fact that Marshal Dillon Dingle was about to turn three years old.


And I realized that the puppy is now officially a ‘Dog’, by all those who claim that ShepHerds should not be considered ‘adults’ until they are three.

But my – no wait …

John’s “Dog” still gets stuck in the sofa, and…

Wait, you forgot that?

Hang on…


From the stuck puppy post way back when

Anyway he still gets stuck in the sofa periodically, drawing that ‘look’ from Blaze who…

Wait, really?

Okay, this look from Blaze:


Blaze’s ‘what the…’ look

Anyway, Blaze still gives him that look.

She will always give him that look.

And that is because Marshal Dillon Dingle will always do stuff that warrants that look, and I just know it and he will never be a real ‘Dog’!

Don’t believe me?

Okay, here you go:

Last week, Marshal counter-surfed for porcupine quills before we left Maine.

Totally true.

I had saved the porcupine quills (for science and posterity), and Marshal found them and got one stuck in his mouth.


And this was the look Marshal Dillon Dingle got after the self-quill-impailment incident:

Some things never change. Those little white spots on Marshal’s beak are from the removal of porcupine quills – which occurred on four separate occasions, not including the self-impailment.

So, yes, three years old.

But – sadly – no, not a real Dog.

Happy Birthday Marshal Dillon Dingle.

Daddy is so proud.

Thanks for readin’.

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