My sanity was called into question the other day by my sometimes loving husband. He accused me of “losing it” because I had talked him into owning four dogs — all at the same time. Accomplishing this designated idiocy resulted from adding two puppies to our two existing older collies. What Dr. K. doesn’t realize is that the decision to double dog ownership had very little to do with me. The reason we now have four dogs is all the dogs’ fault.
March Madness is less about basketball and more about dog’s birthdays.
There have been 7 dogs in our family. Adopting canines began with Molly, a husky-weimaraner-collie mutt adopted in 1988 from the Denver Dumb Friends League. A benign and gentle soul, Molly’s best quality was her determined loyalty. Other than making weekly rounds to Cherry Creek restaurants, a mere four blocks down from our house, Molly never strayed far.
We ascribed that loyal quality of her personality to her collie genetics. That, or she recognized she had a good thing going, living with a family who offered an easy path to some of the best bistros and bakeries in Denver. “Breakout Molly,” because no, we never could figure out how she managed to escape from our fenced yard, convinced us that collies were a good breed.
Since then, the rest of the four-leggers have been collies of the Lassie sort: Lucy, Ethel, Flopsy, Mopsy, and newcomers, Lily and Luna. Curiously, all 7 dogs were born during the month of March.
This is not to say that other dogs are never born in other months of the calendar. I just haven’t met many of them. But I can state with confidence that the month of March is teeming with madness because — in my experience — it’s when collies are born.
Spring time is a good time for adopting a dog
Living in Colorado, if you want to adopt a puppy, it’s best to do that in early summer so the little cutie won’t sink into a snowdrift and be lost and gone forever. That means spring is the optimal time to consult the collie catalogue. That requires scrolling through photos of cuteness tantalizingly displayed by our collie breeder on their Instagram and Facebook accounts. In the past, we’ve either had an ailing dog or at some point over the winter months lost one of our furry family members, necessitating that the dog search process ramp up. And while I’ll admit straying over to our breeder’s page now and again when I get into one of those must have a puppy right now sorts of moods, scrolling has been limited to the rules.
Rules of Kemme Dog Ownership, per the Boss
Those rules can be found in the Dr. K. Rules Of Collie Adoption and Ownership Guidelines, Vol. 1. Rule No. 1 states that no more than three (3) collies may be owned at any one time. Corollary A(1)(b) states that collie puppy adoption is wisest when accomplished in pairs. Proviso (C)(12.5) warns that this necessarily means (1) older collie (a beloved family member) must have moved on to Rainbow Bridge. Under the Terms and Conditions, the occasion of moving on to Rainbow Bridge is acknowledged to be accompanied by much sorrow and many tears, but hope for an eventual reunion is steady.
But, back to four dogs. You do the math. Collie (A) or (B) must be knocked off before Sweet and Fluffy Collie Puppies (C) and (D) can be invited into your home to chew on rugs, furniture, walls, baseboards, pens, any loose sheets of paper not properly filed away, and shoes. Shoes are a requirement for collie puppy ownership because new puppies need shoes to chew and destroy.
In the past, losing a collie happened frequently. Molly (who you’ll recall was part collie) limped to the Bridge (stomach cancer – age 12), followed by Ethel (epilepsy – age 7) and Lucy (odd lump on shoulder – age 9). Once Ethel had moved on to discover an endless array of rabbits and squirrels to chase in the green grass and meadows of Rainbow Bridge, Flopsy and Mopsy were adopted. Lucy was bestowed with an honorarium: Cottontail.
Rules are rules until you get into a pandemic
There we were in March 2020, suddenly finding ourselves in a massive pandemic with two aging 11-year-old dogs on our hands and five vacations to cancel. Bored and lethargic, Flopsy and Mopsy had seen better days, and our hopes for their longevity were waning.
An important note here in my sanity defense: while you might think it was humans who domesticated dogs, research has shown it was the wolf who started along the path of human domestication about 100,000 years ago. A nice fire pit, some good woolly mammoth scraps to gnaw on, and cuddly bearskins for curling up upon at night encouraged cohabitation. It was the wolves who perfected that, “Let me gaze into your eyes” trick and talk you into telling me you love me gimmick that sealed the deal. The wolves — now morphed into golden retrievers, huskies, Yorkshire terriers, and collies, of course, have never looked back. Why would they? They’ve got Italian leather shoes to gnaw, and gourmet bistros and bakeries to plunder.
Point 2 in my defense: I happened upon our aging collie-wolves in the kitchen one afternoon in the late spring of 2020. The two were deep in conversation.
Flopsy: Mom looks kinda down, ya think?
Mopsy: Ya, maybe. All I know is she sure is home a whole lot these days. And she doesn’t get dressed up anymore. I haven’t found one Italian leather shoe in the kitchen to stuff my nose into for weeks.
Flopsy: I gotta tell ya a secret. Promise you won’t tell?
Mopsy: Hhrummmpf. Wha?
Flopsy: Mom and Dad were talking about us the other night at dinner. They’re making a bet about which one of us is gonna — (gulp) — go. . .
Mopsy: As in “pee on the floor go” or . . . wait . . . it’s gotta be the other go. (said with hangdog expression).
Flopsy: I know! All because we like to lie around and do nothing all day.
Mopsy: Well, screw that. I’m not going anywhere. How ’bout you?
Flopsy: I’m in. But let’s look really old and sick and then they’ll think we’re going and we’ll make them get new puppies!
Mopsy: Wooooooo! Somebody to play with!
As you can see, I’ve been had. We are living with four dogs, and March is as mad as mad can be.
I rest my case.