Over Christmas break, my daughter found a neglected 6 pound scrap of elderly Pomeranian wandering outside our neighborhood in the dead of night. His collar had to be cut out of (color indeterminate) matted dreadlocks, his toenails were so long they looked like curling Indian slippers, and something was VERY wrong with his hind legs so that he listed and bobbled like a sailor under the influence as he attempted to gambol in the kitchen. We were all afraid to touch him in case we caught something.
I was smitten. So was the Hubby, though he made gruff manly noises.
We did the right thing, and after a disruptive night (with our other dogs freaking out) we took him to the Humane Society.
The first thing they did was shave him, leaving a bit of fluff around his head so he looked like a tiny lion, or a hermit crab removed from its shell. He was examined, medicated, wormed, neutered and doctored, and after a week (during which the neglectful owners never called) the Humane Society pronounced him ready to adopt.
That’s how we got a third dog. Yes, I know, I need my head examined, and me a shrink.
He has some health issues: a heart condition (due to unkempt teeth that had rotted and affected his heart) is missing a half-dozen aforementioned teeth, and has spontaneously collapsing knees.
“Spontaneous what?” I asked.
“Spontaneously dislocating knees. Because of inbreeding, this type of dog often develops them. There is no cure.” The vet looked worried I was going to renege on my adoption after this litany and produced a waiver documenting the problems. “You have been informed.”
I took a deep breath and signed.
I brought home my new project, and my daughter, who’d already left for college, named him Pono. Pono means ‘righteous’ or “do the right thing.” Pono is also Lei’s trusty partner in my novels, a two-fer, and I love two-fers.
(My son thinks Xerxes suits him better, and continues to call him that. He says a majestic name can compensate for a lot. I disagree)
Why did I do such a ridiculous thing, with the hours I work and two other dogs?
Because. Just because.
Maybe I’m atoning for something—people who would breed a dog until it’s nearly unable to survive to get “desirable” traits, like fluffy fur and bulgy eyes. Maybe I’m atoning for people who would spend money on a dog like this and then neglect him to within an inch of his life.
Mostly, though, I adopted him because he grabbed onto my heart with his tiny, mostly missing teeth and wouldn’t let go. In spite of his handicaps, he frolics with joy until he falls over on collapsible joints. He’s a survivor, and he sits calmly on my lap, fragile heart fluttering while I write, wheezing with happiness just to be there. He’s the perverted result of man’s manipulations, and gruesomely, utterly adorable.
I’ll enjoy having him as long as he lasts, that’s the deal I’ve made with myself—though I can’t promise I won’t add a few more tears to my tear bottle when the silly little guy expires, hopefully much later than sooner.
Now that the kids have grown up and left, the empty nest has been filled with ‘ankle snapper’ dogs. Be warned, it could happen to you.