Friday, May 21, 2010

First Bassoon II

Pete is a tender soul, and nowhere is he more tender than in his regard for Barley. Whatever his misgivings about the prospect of minority status in our home (Humans 2, Beasts 3), he could not deny her royal bunkness a wrassling mate.

We set Barley up on a series of blind dates at three different shelters over the course of a weekend. Her conspicuous indifference to all of the dogs that Pete and I found alluring or endearing made a mockery of my contention that she craved canine company. Our matchmaking project seemed a bust, until we returned to the private, no-kill shelter where we had adopted her sixteen months earlier. On a hunch, the woman helping us brought in a dog who had languished there for a couple of months, "Poppy."

This big, ungainly clown of a dog promptly threw herself at Peter's feet and peed into the air. She appeared desperate to please us, but her insecurity had the unfortunate quality of a self-fulfilling prophecy: she was so pessimistic about her ability to win our hearts that she made herself a wiggling pest. An outstretched hand was immediately bathed in kisses; every sudden noise and movement made her eyes bug and her tail dip. This shaggy bundle of nerves could not, we thought, be at a further remove from the Bunk, so resplendent in her self-assurance. But Poppy's story touched us: she was Barley's age and had lived all her life with a couple who had no complaints about her behavior. It seemed they just didn't like her well enough to sustain the trouble of keeping her. Little wonder she was awash in self-doubt. We thought the least we could do was introduce her to Barley, whose taste in dogs clearly diverged from ours.

The moment Poppy entered the room where Barley waited, she catalyzed an exothermic chemical reaction: Little Miss Aloof went immediately into Mad Rabbit mode, spinning and cavorting, drawing the dog who'd appeared so anxious five minutes earlier into a bouncing chase over and around the (thankfully well worn) furniture. The two of them were as gleeful as best buddies reunited after a long, regretted absence. They chased, wrestled, and rolled 'til they were both spent, then collapsed panting on the rug, side by side.

And that was that. "Poppy" was a good name for the clown in our new girl, but we thought it might be good to emphasize what was beautiful and steady. Her gorgeous blue merle coat has the same depth of shading you can find in igneous rock, so we decided to name her after a volcano: Kilimanjaro. It suits her in her more majestic moods, and "Kili" can be worn comfortably around the house.

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