I knew deep down that this day would come. For one thing, Charlotte would never ever forget the vague suggestion I foolishly made to her when she was 3 that once Lawson was 4 (because I naively believed that by 4, he would be easy to handle HA HA HA!!! Hysterical), we would get a dog. One of my truly fatal mistakes as a mother is my tendency to speak without thinking first--thinking about every consequence and angle and ways a child might manipulate and best me through my words. A nasty side effect of extroversion. Well, Lawson turned 4 in December (and is somehow still not a civilized human being), and Charlotte immediately cashed in. Where's my dog????
I thought I could buy some time by explaining to Charlotte our very strict criteria for any dog that we would allow to live with us. These would include:
-No shedding. I do not have the mental health to handle a bunch of dog hair all over everything.
-No barking. Because there is enough noise in our house between Lawson going ballistic over the color of his cereal bowl, among other things, and all the demon-possessed toys that live here.
-Fully potty trained. Because, well, I'm done with that crap, literally. But apparently not quite, because Lawson's newest psychological torture method is running around the house screaming, "I have to go potty!!!" but not actually going potty, before having an accident. Because it would way make too much sense to actually go to the potty when you need to go potty.
-No jumping. Because I've already herniated a disc like three times.
-No chewing up stuff. Because I like my shoes and my Africa crap, both of which have miraculously survived this long, and I'd like to keep them.
-Not too big that he can knock a child down but not too small that a child could step on him.
-Not too energetic/not a puppy. We are a couch potato family (except for my solo career as a marathon runner), and we need a couch potato dog.
-Easy going. Because someone around here should be.
-Sweet and loving without being too needy. Because I already have two obsessed stalkers.
-Cute. Because I'm shallow. And Lawson has proved that cute can overcome a multiplicity of personality problems. Most of the time. But Kevin added it could not be a "fru-fru" dog, either, but rather, "It has to look like a dog." Because while he is secure in his manhood, he still has some room for improvement.
So basically, we were looking for an adorable, bald cat. Which doesn't exist. So I thought I we were safe.
Add to these ridiculous criteria the alpine standards of rescue organizations. We thought rescue groups were the way to go because we could get a foster-home tested adult dog. With shelter/pound dogs, you never know what you are going to get. You meet them in the shelter and they are all cute and charming, then 2 weeks after you get home you find out the dog is actually pretty insane and will lose his mind if you keep getting a new glass out every time you need a drink of water instead of reusing the same one for at least a day. Because that makes no sense, and it only creates more work and wastes resources, and I'm really not sure why a reasonable person wouldn't reuse his glass and we may have to see a marriage counselor about this if you can't correct the behavior. Sheesh. But I digress. We felt like the rescue agencies could test the dogs for us, and we could be more certain of what we were getting.
But here's the thing, the mission of the rescue agencies is not to help humans find a dog. Or really to help humans in any way. It's all about the dogs, and they are not so much interested in whether a dog is insane as to whether the humans are insane. And sanity, by their standards, boils down to: Not having any small kids (I can't disagree with them there); not having a job or any interests outside the home (but yet enough money to pay for dog chemotherapy if it is required); a willingness to pay for dog chemotherapy if it is required; endless patience for dog hair, dog crap, chewing, vomiting, yelping, nocturnal behavior, and yet the ability to maintain a perfect hygienic and calm environment; the belief that humans do not actually rule the world, or shouldn't in any case (and, having gotten a close-up view of the US government, I will admit they have a point there). In addition, you must provide vet references for any pet you have ever had in your adult life, and yes, I do want you to give me the name of the vet who euthanized your cat in 1999, and I am completely serious about that, and I will call them and quiz them about how much you cried when Murphy breathed her last. After a few snooty rejections from these folks, I began to think it would be easier to go back to school, get a PhD in biochemistry, master genetic engineering, and make the dog I wanted in a lab than to obtain a dog, any dog, even an insane schizophrenic dog, from a rescue organization. The good news was that this seemed to work with my goal of postponing dog ownership until Charlotte moved out of the house. The bad news is that my little girl really, really wanted a dog, and because I am not a completely heartless mother, I did want to give her a dog. And I was starting to kind of what a dog, too. I had a Yorkie growing up that I absolutely adored. Probably because I did absolutely nothing for her except scratch her belly. My parents tell me she was a real handful. They can be so delusional sometimes.
But then a miracle occurred, and I am being very literal here. I was trolling one of the rescue sites for the upteenth time and I saw Chilo. Chilo the shitzhu, yorkie, brusells griffon, schnauzer, we-aren't-really-sure mix. From the description, it seemed he met our basic criteria, so I emailed the agency and girded myself for another rejection. For some truly bizarre reason, someone emailed me back right away, asked a few questions, didn't ask for a bribe or anything, and set up a meeting. Obviously this agency needs to better screen its volunteers. So we went and met this dog, thinking this was some kind of try-out for US, and we needed to look pretty and sane and be prepared with answers to a litany of questions like, "What is your worst character trait?" and I would say something like, "I'm just too loving. It's a real problem because last time I owned a pet, I had to quit my job because I couldn't stop petting her long enough to get ready for work. Fortunately, I had enough in my trust fund to pay for Murphy's heart transplant and provide for her until she finally succumbed at the age of 25." Instead, they were like, "He's a good dog, I'll be honest with you, he doesn't like other dogs. You may not be able to take him to a dog park [as if I would ever want to go to such a place]. But if you think you can handle that--When do you want to take him home? Is now good?"
So we have Chilo, whose real name, as it turns out is Chulo, which means "cutie" in Spanish (it also means "pimp," but unless his former owners ran a prostitution ring for dogs out of their home over which Chilo/Chulo presided, I'm guessing that was not the meaning they were going for). The rescue organization apparently botched the spelling. Chilo means nothing. But he answers to it, probably because if you say it in a high voice it sounds like Chulo, and Charlotte insisted that it is his name and you can't just go changing folks' names. And I am sorry to say, there is no drama. Yeah, I can't even manufacture any for the sake of blogging humor. Chilo is an absolute dream. He meets all of our criteria without being a bald cat. And although he is still a little too cute for Kevin's liking, after some recalibration of his definitions, Kevin has decided he does look like a dog.
And he makes me feel like a good mother. He is obedient, loving, and he doesn't go out of his way to drive me insane. I actually enjoy caring for him because he doesn't seek to thwart me at every turn. And he can't talk, a huge plus. He does have unresolved squirrel issues, and I shudder to think what will happen if one of them decides to venture down from the tree where they live and mock him. But generally speaking, we have a rare, perfect situation in this house.
I still don't know if I'm a "dog person," but I am definitely a Chilo or Chulo person (but not a pimp person, just to be clear. I don't like pimps).