Four-month-old blue Great Dane puppy needs a home now.
Call Dave at 555-0123.
Sometimes in life you make mistakes. It was the end of March 2006 in Tucson, Arizona— a particularly beautiful time of year—and open in front of me was a copy of the Arizona Daily Star. It was carrying the ad I’d placed there a week back, for the ridiculous sum of $40.
I did a quick calculation in my head. I’d already laid out $1,750 for our puppy, plus the cost of around six weeks’ worth of special puppy food, an extra- large crate, a leash and a collar, dog bowls—both food and water—and now this ad. We were a cool $2,000 out-of-pocket by now, I figured, but I didn’t care. I was out of patience. I was seriously stressed. I was at the end of my rope.
The ad had already attracted about a dozen phone calls, and two of them seemed to be genuine possibilities. One was from a woman who worked at the local animal organization in Tucson. When I explained to her that George had become a lot more than I could handle, she reacted excitedly. It was obvious right away that she was a serious dog lover, and she wanted our puppy pretty badly. The other call was from a guy who lived a couple of hours away, up in Phoenix. He said he already had a couple of Great Danes in the family, and would very much love to have a third.
So, job done. With my wife’s very reluctant agreement, I had one decision left to make: who should have him? Whose home should he go to? George, who was never far from Christie and me—ever—was sitting on the floor beside my chair while I was thinking about this, as if he knew that, right now, it was the best place for him to be. I glanced down, and saw the sparkle in his intensely blue eyes. It was the same sparkle that had first attracted us to him, the same sparkle that had Christie fall in love with him on sight. Did he know? Was he already preparing for the worst? Was he already resigned to being put in yet another crate and shipped off someplace else?
But George didn’t seem to be thinking about himself. While I mused about how much had already happened in his short life, he seemed more concerned about me. He lifted himself up, tipped his head to one side and looked at me with an expression that I’d already come to know. “Hey, Dad,” it seemed to say to me. “What’s up?”
He then did something that would be appropriate if you were writing a scene for a movie. He got up from the floor and put his head in my lap, then looked up at me with those enormous blue eyes.
I looked back at the ad, to the two numbers I’d scribbled down, and I realized that, actually, I couldn’t let him go. He was part of our family, and no matter what the hassle, no matter what the pain, one thing you don’t give up on is family.
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