There’s a new baby at our house.
Now, that’s news at any time, but when you’re the grandparents in the house, a new baby is real news indeed. And oh, how real it is: the sleepless nights comforting a crying wee one, cleaning up bathroom misses and learning how to "sit" and "stay."
Sit and stay? Oh, did I not mention that our new baby is a dog?
Hear now, The Tale of Dogs, Interrupted:
It was many years ago that our beloved Golden Retriever, Tanner, passed away after a brief illness. That hit me hard; he was the goodest of good dogs, in all the ways a dog can be good.
I was grieving hard for weeks, when I came home to one of those big INTERVENTION signs and a family who kindly told me that I really needed another dog. Determined to not go through the pain of separation too often, I looked for a long-lived breed. Recalling that the family dog of my childhood lived to be 17 years old, I impulsively said, "Basset Hound" and the next thing I knew, a tiny one was running through my backyard, adorkably tripping over his own ears.
Elmer lived up to all his billing and then some: he loved me until the ripe old age of 14, but broke my heart again and took the pieces of it with him to The Rainbow Bridge. And I was done with losing my heart to floppy-eared hounds, no matter how earnest and solemn they looked.
Which is exactly why we were contacted two months ago by an old neighbor who had known us, and Elmer, for years. Old Neighbor’s friends had suffered a great loss and a middle-aged Basset Hound suddenly needed a home. Old Neighbor thought of me instantly, because by now Bassets are my brand, and next thing I know I’m holding a picture of a tri-color baby, looking bereft. You’d think I’d know by now that Bassets always look bereft.
Bless Dad, Interrupted’s heart; even though he knew that he would wind up being the one picking up the backyard poop, he put me in the car and drove me two hours to meet Jessie, preparing immediately to bring him home because who drives two hours to just look at a dog?
When we rang the doorbell this chunky little dwarf, who had obviously been the apple of his human’s eye, ran to me and buried his head in my lap. I think he knew; either that or he smelled the Milk Bones in my pocket. It made no difference. We knew a match when we saw one.
Jessie is everything his breed advertises: affectionate, stubborn and sleeps 22 hours a day. Evenings find us on the family room couch, which conveniently has room for an insistent, emotionally needy dwarf who marches right on to my lap and my laptop, demands love and helps me write my columns. It’s there on the couch that we confirm every day that everything is better when there’s a Basset sitting (and shedding) next to you.
Because sometimes only a Basset can fill a Basset-shaped hole in your heart.
Elizabeth Evans is a local mother, wife, daughter, sister, former stay-at-home mom, former work-outside-the-home mom, former work-at-home mom and a human resources consultant.