Sunday, January 07, 2018

A Major Milestone

Today is a special anniversary. One year ago today, I adopted Major.

My perfect, pudgy pillow.
Major is, as far as we can tell, part Chihuahua, part Corgi. Probably. He looks a lot like the love child between Yoda and a loaf of bread.

Was I looking to add to my pack o' dogs? No, I was not. As people informed me, I needed another dog like I needed a hole in my head. I had lost Robert only a few short weeks earlier. Christmas, New Year's, and Cassandra's birthday had passed in a grey blur. I already had a menagerie of dogs, cats, horses, chickens, and sundry other animals to care for. Plus, I'm not a fan of little dogs.

Correction.

I *was not* a fan of little dogs.

Major helped me see the error of my ways.

On New Year's Day, 2017, I went to the animal shelter with my neighbor. Her elderly cat had died and she wanted to try to fill the hole in the house he'd left behind. (I went, warning her that if she expected me to talk her out of adopting a furry creature, I was the wrong person for the job.) She came home with Bowser, an adorable tuxedo cat. And I, perusing the kennels, discovered Major.

My mom lived in an elder care facility owned and operated by one of my longest, dearest friends. Some time earlier, I'd broached the idea of having a companion dog at the facility. "Let me know if you ever find the right dog," she told me. Which is the equivalent of a divine quest, you understand.

When I got home, I called her and told her about the little dog I'd seen at the shelter. She consulted with the main nurse at the home. The nurse agreed that a little dog might be a good thing. So the next day, I went back to Animal Control and hung out with Major. He was perfect for a companion dog:

Self-assured without being snippy.

Small but solid.

Mature.

Dignified.

Quiet but alert.

Housebroken.

... All good things.

I sent my friend pictures from the pound, got the greenlight, and came home with the boy.

"You got a new dog!?" people said, doing little to hide their incredulity, because everyone knew acquiring a new mouth to feed was NOT one of my priorities.

"No, no, no," I assured them. "Just fostering him a little while. Going to take him to the vet. Make sure he's going to work out at Mom's elder care. Probably take a few weeks to get him completely introduced and assimilated. But we're not keeping him."

"mmm-hmmm," they said, unconvinced.

Couch potato.
I had the best of intentions. Really, I did. So when I took Major to Mom's home for the first time and he acted as if he'd lived there forever, I basked in the glow. Then the nurse saw him. And the glow faded.

"Ohhhh...," she said, backing away when Major went to say hello. "I didn't know he'd be so big."

...

Now, Ten-Pound Tiny Boy is many things. But "big" is not one of them. His ears are literally the biggest part of him.

This was when I discovered that the nurse in charge had not only never owned a dog before, but she was also legitimately terrified of them. And while this information would have been good to know before adoption, there was no way in the world I was taking Major back to the pound.

"I knew you'd never give him up!" friends crowed.

Meh. Let 'em crow.

Major is made of awesome. He literally made 2017 bearable. Plus, I love what happens when I look at the world from Major's point of view:

*  Every time I look at him, I laugh. Every time. He's so compact, so dignified, so utterly self-possessed. Yet he's got these novelty-store ears that crack me up whenever I see them. He is not trying to be funny. He's not particularly playful, and he's long past the puppy stage. But he is still freaking hilarious. Whenever I need a laugh, I can count on Major to make it happen.

*  He is a fraction of the size of my other dogs, who are between 50 and 60 pounds. Yet he doesn't shy away from hanging out with them.  He will wait till the girls are all asleep, then crawl on top of one of them for his nap. Through his filter, everything in the house exists for his comfort and convenience.

*  Major loves to be with people, but he isn't always thrilled about hands reaching out to pet him. He's especially not a fan of being picked up. When a someone reaches for him, he'll back away, the giant ears melt, and his entire body droops. I have no idea what happened in the little dog's past. He likes people -- on his own terms. His favorite thing to do (he's doing it now, in fact) is to curl up beside you on the couch so you can use him as an armrest. But he prefers to be the one to decide how the physical contact happens.

Watching the road for intruders.
*  He is small, but he is mighty. He has no idea how insignificant he is. When he's outside, he will stand up to anything. Doesn't matter if it's a tractor, or my Percheron gelding, or the UPS truck -- Major will stand his ground and bark to alert the world of the intruder's presence. While the other dogs are frivolously wasting their energy chasing squirrels into trees, Major is watching the road for trespassing vehicles. (His definition of a trespasser is anything he can see that moves and is big enough to crush him.)

*  Here's how to ruin Major's day: raise your voice and yell at him. Or sharply reprimand any of the other creatures in the house -- he'll take it personally. Then the whole-body-droop will be in evidence, and he will do his best "bread loaf" impression as he attempts to become invisible.

* Major celebrates every meal. Food of any kind is the highlight of his day. He will literally bounce off the walls. Then, in anticipation of eating, he will spin in circles. (Always counter clockwise... I don't know why. His tail hooks permanently to the left...) Sometimes the Dining Dance is accompanied by yips of sheer delight. The ears flap. The eyes sparkle. He derives such joy and such pleasure from a basic daily event.

Those are just some of the reasons why I'm celebrating the anniversary of having the little guy in my family. I cannot fathom the reason that made his former owners dump him at the pound. But I'm glad we found each other. I'm glad we had this year together. With any luck, I'm looking forward to many more.