Thursday, February 19, 2009

Introducing The Pets: Pancho

We got Pancho when we were retired the first time, in Mexico. No, not New Mexico. Mexico. We’d had to put down our dog Rosie, and we let our vet Carlos know that we were on the lookout for a small dog. That was a ridiculous restriction, because we know perfectly well that the pets we take in are simply the first ones that look us in the eye, and size or other pre-qualifications be damned. Thank God no SPCAs or vets have ever had a soulful-eyed elephant standing around on the day we were there.

On the day we stopped by the veterinary to pick up Rosie’s collar and leash, Carlos mentioned that he had a dog that we might like. He didn’t say a word about “small.” He did tell us that he’d been taking care of this dog (breed unmentioned) for 7 months, after one of his employees rescued it from her neighbor, who was abusing the then-puppy. We walked out into the small but clean area where Carlos boarded a few dogs, letting them mill around outside during the day. Pancho, who already had his name, ran right up to us, or I should say, ran right up to me. You must know that She has always been “the dog person” and I have always been “the cat person.” Dogs always prefer her and usually ignore me entirely, entranced by her superior dog loving personality. (More than one of my beloved cats cheated on me with She all the time.) Pancho put one paw on my knee and laughed lovingly into my face. He gave She a polite sniff and a brief smile, and came running back to me. And that's all it took, of course.

Pancho is a boxer. Not the biggest boxer we’ve ever seen, but a boxer nevertheless. Boxers are not small dogs. After we said we’d take him, Carlos offered to feed him first. I glanced at my watch, and Carlos assured us that “it would just take a minute.” It probably took under 30 seconds, because that’s been Pancho’s average dinner time for the last 8 years. Carlos also said that although Pancho was admittedly not small, he was “used to being outside.” That’s true. Pancho pees and poops outside and then barks peremptorily to be let back in. When he first saw snow, he wouldn’t go outside until he saw a neighbor dog prancing down the icy sidewalk. He has a big comfortable bed from L. L. Bean or somewhere. Inside.

The minute we got him home, he became devoted to She, following her around like an Airstream trailer. He never follows me, and if she is not home when I get up in the morning, I often get no acknowledgement whatsoever. But I am the one who taught him to sit and shake, to pretend to bite my feet when I squeal “Eek!” and to howl on command. (Why would anyone want to command a dog to howl? Because it’s funny.) He loves me when She’s around. He plays with me, laughing lovingly into my face. He loves to hear me chant “Who dat big brown dog wid de tail go roun’ and roun’?”

He’s our boy.

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