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A little backstory: last summer, the household picked up a Puppy.
He’s a black lab/spaniel cross we picked up from the local pound. When we got him, he was all of forty-eight pounds soaking wet, ribs and hip bones sticking out all over the place. We found him late on the afternoon of July 3rd. He was the last dog in the last row of the shelter, sitting all by himself in a row of empty cages. When I reached out to pet him, he rested his head against my hand and sighed. Brown and I went home, talked it over, and brought Zu back to meet him as soon as the shelter opened after the holiday.
I’d like to say it was love at first sight, but they didn’t do anything but casually sniff at each other before running off to explore the rest of the enclosure. Zu was twice his size and generally uninterested in anything but SMELL OTHER DOGS EVERYWHERE SMELL SMELL SMELL.
There was no Trample Test. We were really hoping for a Trample Test. We had interviewed several other dogs from various adoption agencies and shelters, and none of them were fast or sturdy enough to stand against Zu when he got into play mode. (True story: we thought we had found another suitable dog, as he played with Zu and seemed to be enjoying himself during the Trample Test, but that dog refused to leave the car when they reached the house for their second meeting. I received a phone call from the woman driving him who said, “Yeah, I think he’s been traumatized, sorry.”)
The county animal shelter doesn’t allow home visits. It was an all-or-nothing adoption. Still, we decided to take a chance on the year-old puppy with the broken tail.
His name is Shima, which is Japanese for (roughly) “white stripe on black” and also “one of seven sentient demons which trouble mankind.” Since this is a little on the nose, I think we might name the next dog “Perpetually Lazy” or “Finds Large Sums of Cash in the Backyard.”
We’re a Rottweiler household, and except for babysitting my parents’ dogs, Shima is our first non-Rottweiler. He’s so…easy! He just wants to play and be near you and get petties and belly rubs and eat every eight hours on the nose or he will barf all over the place from his highly acidic stomach, which is probably the reason he was abandoned at the pound because holy shit this dog will barf and barf and barf and barf and it’s like the freakin’ Exorcist around here unless you’re on the clock with dinner…
(Seriously, compared to Zu? Cakewalk.Would you rather have a dog hyper enough to go through windows or one that you need to remember to feed four times a day? Well, now we have both.)
He’s incredibly smart. I’ve had actual conversations with this dog. I’ll be working in my office, and Brown will be playing with Shima in the living room. I’ll hear Brown say something like, “No, Shima, I don’t want that nasty tennis ball. Get me Spiky Ball,” and Shima will run off to find the plastic ball covered in spikes. He’ll usually find it; if he can’t, he’ll run into my office and sit beside my desk, and I’ll say something like, “Spiky Ball is in the hallway bathroom.” Then he’ll leave the office, and I’ll hear Spiky Ball squeak all the way to the living room.
Zu is much happier, too. He was lonely. Heartbreakingly lonely, really–he’s such a friendly dog but he had so much going against him. Now he’s got a buddy, and the two of them play every day. Shima’s a scrapper who loves to play rough: not only passed the first Trample Test, but he initiates new ones each time they go outside.
We got Shima out of the shelter at the right time. Not long after we brought him home, the Guilford County Animal Shelter was caught in a serious abuse scandal. I recommend not clicking around those links if cruelty to animals is a Thing for you.
But sometimes those stories end well.