I’m not the kind of guy who would ever stand in the way of love. Not even if the timing or the circumstances aren’t optimal.
I wasn’t convinced that the stars were necessarily lined up for these two. They are both young, neither are terribly responsible. I told him that this was a real life relationship, not something he could walk away from when it got boring. He nodded and told me that he loved her. He told me that she was the one for him. When I saw their sweet brown eyes lock and watched him softly kiss her forehead, even I had to admit that there was “something” there.
What else could I do? I paid the man and Charlie got a puppy for his birthday.
The love of Charlie’s life is a black Labrador Retriever puppy named Casey. They kind of met through my wife and me. Kind of. We were entering the parking lot of a department store complex when I saw a sign in front of us. The large sign was propped on the front of a pick-up truck and read “Purebread Lab Puppies”. I pointed at the sign and made a noise that sounded something like “LAB PUPPIES!”. My wife changed directions and Bo Duked her way across traffic and into a spot among the other cars parked near the puppy truck.
OK all you judgers. That’s right. My son met his puppy in the back of a truck in grocery store parking lot driven by a “breeder” who could not spell “purebred”. People marry people they met online and nobody says a word. Well, they do, just not within earshot of the online married people. You get my point. Love can happen anywhere.
Initially just my wife and I looked at the puppies. He had two females left, a black one and a yellow one. We had no intention of buying regardless of the pointing, yelling and innovative driving it took to get us to the truck. Really. We just love dogs generally and labs specifically The world’s best dog was a grouchy old yellow lab named Cody. He was my wife’s best friend for 14 years and my boy for eight. He slept under Charlie’s crib or next to his bed every night except for the days immediately following my first heart attack. For those few days he never left my side. The little yellow puppy was beautiful but I won’t own another yellow lab until I can think about Cody without missing him so much I cry.
The black puppy fell into my wife’s arms comfortably. Dogs love her. The puppy snuggled while Charlie watched from the car. We asked some pertinent questions. We snuggled a puppy. Charlie watched from the back seat of the car.
We gave the puppy back reluctantly. We have two dogs and don’t need another we reasoned. In the back seat, Charlie said he would like to hold a puppy. I smelled trouble. We dropped my wife off in front of a clothing store. She smiled at me.
“You have the car keys and a debit card,” she said. “Go be a little boy’s hero.” I hate it when she does that.
We pulled up to the truck. “Let’s just go take a look,” I told Charlie. “We probably aren’t going to buy one. Let’s just hold her.”
Charlie got out of the car. “Dad?” he asked. “If we aren’t going to buy one, why did you go to the bank?”
“Stop talking,” I said irritably. We have gone through car washes without Charlie noticing when he is engrossed with a movie in the back seat, but he notices a quick ATM stop.
The man put the puppy in Charlie’s arms and I knew immediately that our family had expanded. She shivered and reached up softly licked Charlie’s nose. “Hi sweetheart,” he said. Charlie never uttered that word until right then.
“She’s mine,” he said. I blinked. “I’ll take full responsibility for her,” he said. More words that he had said in context.
“Puppies are hard to take care of,” I said, “and lab puppies are the worst. They will chew anything and everything they can find.”
“I’ll take care of it,” he said evenly. “I’ll clean up poop and puke and pee. I’ll walk her and I’ll make sure she eats.”
I looked down and smiled.
“I’ll take full responsibility,” he repeated solemnly. His smile brightened. “She can be my birthday present puppy.”
I paid the man and we took her to the car. Charlie got in and showed her to Eli. “Puppy!” Eli exclaimed. He touched her softly. I got in and he started sobbing. “We can’t keep her,” he cried. “We can’t keep her!”
“Yes we can, buddy,” Charlie soothed him. “She’s mine. She’s my puppy now.”
“Eli can keep her?”, Eli asked.
“I can keep her,” Charlie corrected. I saw the beginnings of a love triangle in this romance.
I texted my wife to meet us at the pet store a few doors down from her clothing store. She texted me back. All it said was, “Hahahahahahahahahahaha.”
In the store I witnessed the unbridled power of cute. My boys are very handsome young men, even if I say so myself. Add a black lab puppy to the mix and you get a cute combination that might require a warning label. Teenage girls melted at the sight of the boys and their puppy. Adults of both genders were disarmed when Eli would say, “Eli new puppy name Casey!”
My wife met us and helped me referee the spending spree. We escaped with just enough dog toys and accoutrements to supply a boarding kennel and a bag of puppy food. During the car ride home, Casey sat in Charlie’s lap and slept while he gently stroked her coat. Charlie has an incredible smile, but I have never seen him smile as easily and as brightly as did on the ride home.
Introducing Casey to the our dogs Bella and Abby went better than I thought. By that I mean there was no blood shed. Our dogs aren’t aggressive, but they are spinster ladies with no time for cuteness and curiosity. The sniffed Casey then ignored her while looking at us accusingly. Things got a little exciting when she tried to nurse from Abby, a 3-year-old pug mix, and then Bella, a 10-year-old grandma lady mutt of mixed shepherd, Chow and Rottweiler heritage. Our vet and a friend who breeds dogs assured us that though 6 weeks is a little early to take a puppy from her mother, that she could eat solid food that the nursing attempt was instinct.
I am confident that things will work out, though little issues have surfaced. Charlie immediately set up Casey’s bed and food and water. He got her one of his blankets and watched while she slept. Later, he didn’t think he could take her out because he had pajamas on. I demonstrated how coats and boots fit over pajamas. He explained that it was really cold outside in Alaska in April. Oh well, I guess everyone needs space in a relationship.
I’m just like any other Dad. I want my children to be happy and this has all the makings of a match made in heaven: a six week old black lab puppy and a little boy who is just becoming a big boy.
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