Thursday, June 14, 2012


Back in May of 2010, I wrote about my cat Apollo and how he was settling in to his new life as a Downtown Cat in the big city of Portland, OR. He made the move with about as much grace as an aging-rural-tomcat could: after we tried a variety of cardboard and sisal rope scratching posts, and I took the streetcar over to a lumber yard to buy a 4”x4”x 4’8” wooden post, he finally stopped scratching up all the doorframes.

Apollo lived many months in his new home, but he was old, and the story’s sad, and we don’t need to go there. My husband and I were unexpectedly petless.

I was sad for a long time, and then not as sad. And then I settled into the freedom that comes from not having a pet—less to clean around the house, one less thing to be responsible for, and the pleasure of taking completely guilt-free trips. Life was easier, no doubt about it.

And then, it got maybe a little bit too comfortable. I was deeply into work, living in my head a lot, and everything was fine. Totally fine. And yet, I had a nagging itch that something was missing.

What was missing, is Seamus.

Turns out that looking for a dog has changed a lot since the last time we did it, about 20 years ago. Now, it’s sort of like on-line dating—you get a photo and a fairly objective description (since the dog is not writing it himself).

As soon as I saw those splayed feet and that shaggy beard, I was in love. I placed a 24-hour hold, we drove out to the Humane Society the next day, and we brought home our mixed-breed Bassett Hound-Terrier (or, as we like to think of him, Bassetterrier,  which I totally think should be a new Westminster entry.)

As you can see, he is the perfect size to lay crosswise on the stairs.

Oooowee, is Seamus a handful: just over a year old—not quite a puppy, but still learning to make good-dog choices (as opposed to the other kind).

The Humane Society may have stated his mission: 
To Find A Forever Home.

They did not, however, mention his motto: 
Chew First And Ask Questions Later.

He can gnaw the straps off a flipflop in about 20 seconds. He can shred a roll of toilet paper in half that time. He can pluck delicious items out of the recycling. He can pull books off the bottom shelf (giving new meaning to the term “voracious reader.”)

A few nights ago, we discovered that he can open a sliding glass door—no kidding—with his long Bassetterrier nose. (Unfortunately, we discovered this after he’d been alone in the house for who-knows-how-long, pillaging the bottom shelf of the bookcase.)

But even as we are working to foster good-dog choices (and moving all our belongings at least four feet off the ground), I can say that Seamus has been good for us.  He’s a spot of joy in the house. He is ALWAYS in a good mood (especially at 5 a.m. when he is eager to start the day). And, after getting maybe a bit too comfortable, I’ve been reminded of the value of getting out of my adult head, every once in a while, and living in the childlike here-and-now.

I’m thinking of ideas for dog books. I’m smearing peanut butter in his blue rubber Kong (a good-dog chew-toy that has probably saved several volumes of our library).

And I’m appreciating Seamus.


Susan E. Goodman said...

Great feet. If you don't know everybody in our neighborhood, you will now!

Susan E. Goodman said...

Great feet. If you don't know everybody in our neighborhood, you will now!

Melissa Stewart said...

We got a new cat from a shelter not long ago, and she has changed our lives. In my often isolated writer world, it's great to have a little friend around all the time.

Barbara Kerley said...

Susan, yes -- that's been true. He is a remarkable-looking dog and people are always commenting on him. I'm getting to know quite a few of the neighbors.

Melissa, I agree. So nice to have a little buddy around the house. Good for you for adopting from the shelter :)

D Goska said...

Beautiful dog, nice piece. Thank you.

Natasha Wing said...

He's a curious sort. I'm glad he found a home with a thoughtful writer. I hope he learns not to chew books!

Barbara Kerley said...

Thanks, Danusha.

Tash -- me, too!

D's Journey said...

He's got a taste for books... now to refocus that. Fabulous post, such a treasure! I agree, too comfortable isn't always the best feeling.