A dog doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor, smart or dumb. Give him your heart…and he’ll give you his.—Milo Gathema
There have been very few times in my life where an animal tugged at my heart. I’ve had a cat or two, maybe a rabbit, but not really a dog. I was never really a “dog guy.” Sure we had them on the farm growing up and I loved them, but there was no “unbreakable bond” like White Fang or any of those stories. That was the case until the chocolate dog.
It was the Summer of 2010. We had just bought our house and were settled in. I was working at the newspaper and Jeg was a secretary at the college. We had busy schedules at work and volunteering with our church. We had decided that we would wait to get a puppy.
One night while volunteering at our youth ministry, a fellow volunteer said she had some Chocolate Lab/Golden Retriever puppies that she was giving away. I listened to my wife “ooh” and “aww” at the thought of a puppy, but by the end of the night, she said she would rather wait. (I would later find out that she never stopped wanting one that night, she just stopped talking about it to make it my idea.)
Being the awesome guy that I am, I used this opportunity to swoop in and surprise her with a gift. I drove her out to the house and gave her the chance to pick one out. And she picked this guy: We are big believers in the concept where the dog chooses their own name. Not one minute passed and he was named Count Chocula. What followed was the longest night ever, up to that point of course.
Count had never spent a night away from his litter mates. So he was used to sleeping on top of other puppies, not by himself. He howled and yelped and kept us awake. Jeg told me I had to do something, so I did what I only knew to do…curl up with him in the floor. I laid my arm out and he cuddled up close in my armpit and fell fast asleep. Right then, I became a dog person. I became HIS person.
What followed that night were typical puppy antics. Potty training was a slight challenge, but he took to it pretty quick. Chewing was the hardest. We alternated toys to keep him entertained, but the poor guy just couldn’t stay away from cabinets. He munched on the edges and corners of our cabinets in the utility room, which was his “room” while we were gone. Someone told us to dab a little hot sauce on them to deter the gnawing. We followed those instructions and when we came back, he was just licking it off! The little fella loved him some Tabasco! He was eventually broken of this, but it took a while.
Our next hurdle is one that we are still jumping with him. He just can’t seem to resist swallowing paper towels and dress socks. I don’t think I have a pair of socks that even match. I didn’t even notice it until I was cleaning up colorful poop in the backyard. Even though we have been through two tubes of puppy laxative and a few enemas (that was rough,) it remains a constant battle.
Yes, we’ve had our ups and downs. From drinking two bottles of cough syrup to devouring an entire section of carpet, Count has still stolen our hearts and become our first “child.”
Everyone said that when we had Little Girl, Count was going to be jealous. He was so confused, wondering why he couldn’t sit on the bed or the couches anymore. The hardest part was not getting to snuggle with his mama. It took a little while to find his new place in the flow of things, but I think he’s finally warmed up to her (i.e. the top pic.)
Are you an animal’s “person?” I’d love to hear about it! Comment below and be sure to leave a like and share this with someone. There will be more Count stories in the future. Y’all be safe out there.