This morning, after many days of a slow thaw, snow is sifting down earnestly. We are forecast to receive one foot and the TV news is showing drivers in the south spinning their wheels. It’s odd to note that, up here, where we have so much more of this white stuff, I rarely if ever see a driver spinning his wheels — in these storms, our southern friends seem so innocent and desperate. So here comes more snow. The winter does go long here and I resist all temptations to complain. I choose to live here; there is much about it to love so let’s not get unduly concerned with the few down sides. But it does sometimes lend itself to a kind of controlled insanity. I exhibited that on Sunday as I went to “look at” a batch of new puppies. I have been looking for a puppy. My dog Mayday, a still-lively mini-schnauzer (is there any other kind?), turned 13 last Friday. When my one dog gets older, I usually get a puppy to bring up behind her, a kind of bridge should the inevitable come earlier than expected. I can’t imagine life on this earth, much less life on top of this hill, without a canine companion. It’s enough to be alone. Dogs provide entertainment, focus, a sense of responsibility (am I just naturally an early riser or is it the longstanding demands of all my dogs past and present that convince me to rise before dawn and go out into the new air of the new day?), the need for walks during the day, and the extra warmth in the nighttime. Not to mention love.
So it wasn’t really true insanity. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. A friend has a border terrier, a new breed in my dog book. I’ve never known one before but this dog is your classic dog: about twenty pounds when full grown, with short legs, a tough wiry coat (I’m allergic to any dogs that shed), a short little pointed tail, compassionate eyes, and an overall curious way of being. I understand that James Herriot’s dog was a border terrier. I also have heard that on the internet you can find a site that matches you with the breed to which you are best suited. There aren’t a lot of border terriers to be found but this dog version of Match.com often matches people with the border terrier, simply because they have so many wonderful attributes. I suppose only a chosen few are matched with pit bulls.
I didn’t take the test. I like my friend’s dog Quimby enough to know that this is a good dog for me. So I heard about this new litter and decided to go have a look. Over the past few months, I’ve looked at several puppies. Believe it or not, I’ve walked away, feeling they were not the right match for me. And there are lots of reasons why getting a puppy is not a good thing at this time. For one thing, it’s expensive. And a puppy is a big commitment. It’s easy to find good reasons not to have a dog. I probably don’t remember what it’s like to have a puppy. My old dog and I are so used to each other, I hardly think of myself as a dog owner. She blends beautifully into my life. So maybe I’ll blame the crazy winter for my loss of reason. This time, I picked one of the puppies out of the litter and held her in my arms. She was about the size of a small loaf of bread, black with black eyes, her tiny paws tipped in brindle. She gave me a sweet kiss and then fell fast asleep against my chest. Good reasons be damned. She’ll come home with me and join Mayday here on April 1. In the time between now and then, I’ll find a little crate and buy some toys and a bag of puppy chow. Get a good supply of newspapers plus a new mop and pail. And think of a good name. By then maybe there will be a daffodil or two coming up beside the front door. And some green grass for her to play on.