In early November 2012, I rescued Finley Aloysius Oberdan from a shelter in rural South Carolina.
It all started a few months before: when Dan moved to Charlotte in May, Layla was devastated. Despite seeing Dan almost every weekend, she actually threw up after every visit. I am not kidding. I had to call the vet, who convinced me that dogs don’t get eating disorders. (Only cats are that stubborn of pets.) Anyway, Layla was also just about four years old, so she had also started losing that puppy energy, both her ears were finally standing up, and I suddenly had a smart, sad, and adult dog.
The obvious way to cope, both for me and Layla, was to consider a puppy. Okay, I did try the obvious things, like regularly walking around the neighborhood, taking her on hikes in new places, but those were really part of our regular routine, so they didn’t help much.
Let me just say that it’s really difficult to think about getting a puppy without getting one; once I started thinking, I started looking, and they are so freakin’ cute. So like the meticulous choice-maker I try to be (ha!), I started running all of the cons through my head, and eventually, there weren’t enough. House and crate training and all of the chewing didn’t seem like much of a big deal in exchange for a cute, smooshy, bundle of puppy-breath and kisses.
And then I downloaded the Petfinder App (bad idea), and started searching for Carolina Dog puppies. Of course, they’re not always correctly labeled or they’re labeled incorrectly, etc., but I thought I knew enough to be able to identify one: great ears, fishhook tail, thicker chest, high belly.
I found two locally; I thought about them both for about a week. I remember that I travelled to the Clemson-Duke football game with my amazing friend and colleague, Ashley Cowden, and the football team, per Dabo’s request. (Okay, Ashley was per Dabo’s request, and she brought me.) I found both pups on one of those bus rides: there was a female in Greenville, SC and a male in Seneca, SC. I thought about them for the week after the football game, until Dan came back down to visit.
Okay, I did sneak to Petsmart and buy the most adorable collar with sweet little flowers on it because I wanted another female puppy. My only reasoning was that I’d never owned a male dog or cat (potentially I had a male goldfish once); I was comfortable with females. I also bought a crate, and put it in the back closet so that maybe I would forget I was so committed to getting a puppy.
So Dan came in, and we talked about the puppy, but I’m not sure he listened. I told him, while running, that if I got a male puppy I would name him Finley after Chuck Finley, the alter-ego of Sam, my favorite down-on-his-luck spy from Burn Notice (played by Bruce Campbell). Chuck Finley was super suave, but Sam was sort of a messy, drinking, ole sweetheart; it seemed like the perfect name for a dog. I didn’t have any good female names picked out, but that sweet collar with flowers on it was still tucked in my glovebox. Anyway, before Dan left, we were sitting at our favorite frozen yogurt place, and I looked at Dan, and said something like, “Look, this is happening. I’m getting a puppy. If you want to have some input, this is your chance.”
Dan’s only comment was, “It’s hard to have two females. Get the male.”
I agreed; that was fine. I decided I would go “look” at the puppy, not necessary get him, after work on Tuesday; I spent Monday thinking about it and then cut out of my office hours early on Tuesday and headed straight to the shelter. It was way out in the country, where the roads are basically gravel, where most of the gas stations are shut up now.
When I got there, we went out to the big dog pen in back; I just wanted to look—they didn’t have to get him out for me. However, all of the other puppies keep jumping over the little guy I wanted to see, so the volunteer had to let him out.