3/30/97 - 6/8/05

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When We Were Very Young...

When we moved out of Woodland North Apartments and into our first house, Paul and I figured it was time to get a puppy and a kitty, just like we'd planned and dreamed.  We were totally unprepared, so Paul watched a few television shows on picking the perfect puppy.  We were still totally unprepared.  We figured we'd look at a bunch of (darling, loveable, cute, adorable, playful) puppies and then (still have the strength) to go home, discuss it and decide whether to choose one of them or wait.  Yeah, whatever.  We pulled out the Little Nickel (proof that we were totally unprepared) and called around to see who still had puppies.  The first house we went to was in Mountlake Terrace/Lynnwood and we were greeted at the door by THE BIGGEST DOG I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.  You could hardly see the woman behind him and he was sitting down!  His name was "Cujo" and he was Vern's dad.  He also, it turned out was a King Breed with an incredible temperament, and a 'leaner'.  He objected to anyone stopping once they'd started petting him, but that's about all he objected to.  He went out in the back yard to play ball with Paul and stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws on Paul's shoulders, remembering of course that Paul is 6'4" tall and was wearing boots with 2" heels, and he was eye to eye with Paul, and Cujo's head was bigger.  This made something of an impression on Paul and is the part of the visit he remembers most clearly.

There were only two puppies left and only Vern was for sale.  The other puppy had been the runt of the litter and was sickly when born.  The owners were just casual backyard breeders and had put so much effort and money into saving her that they'd decided to keep her.  That left Vern.  He kept trying to hide under the furniture.  He didn't want to play much and he failed all the "tests" Paul learned off the TV program.  One of the tests was to put the puppy under a blanket and see how long it took for the puppy to figure out how to get free.  Vern curled up and went to sleep.  As soon as the woman got up to take Paul and Cujo out back, Vern stole her spot on the couch.  She said he always did that, and that it was especially memorable on "movie night" when she'd get up to go potty and come back with a puppy in her place on her pillow and snuggled into her blanket.  We hesitated and the Man offered us a discount if we'd take Vern.  We went outside to discuss it.  We decided that Vern was a little "slow" but that this would be a good thing since Paul has bipolar disorder, and he wouldn't have a hyper puppy when he was "down".  So we decided to buy him.  On the way home mommy rode in the back seat with Vern so that he wouldn't be scared or lonely.

When we got home we realized something -- he had fleas.  In fact, he was completely lousy with them.  Also, it occurred to us that he'd need food, a food dish, a water dish, toys, a bed, a collar, a leash, some grooming supplies and probably some other stuff.  Hmmm -- did I mention that we were totally unprepared?  OK, so Paul kept Vern out in the back yard playing until I could go to the pet store and get everything.  When I came home with a 40lb. bag of dog food slung over my shoulder, Vern jumped up (all 30 pounds of him, LOL) and stood between Paul and I and barked as fiercely as he could.  Paul was a little nervous 'cause he seemed so serious (and because he seemed pretty big at the time).  I put the bag down and he recognized me and turned into a wiggle and came over to greet and love and play. 

Then he got his first bath.  Again, I didn't want him to be scared so I put on my bathing suit and got in the tub with him.  I scrubbed him free of fleas, but he was still miserably itchy.  Every day, sometimes twice a day, we set him in a bathtub full of soda water, just like my mom did when I got the chicken pox.  It got so that our boy LOVED anything to do with grooming.  What a ham!  When he got out we'd towel dry him first, and he'd try to get the towel from us and play tug-y-war.  Then we'd run out of patience and get out the hair dryer.  Eventually we couldn't use the hair dryer on anyone or anything unless he was involved.  When we were worried about too much bathing, we would put the couch attachment on the vacuum and vacuum him free of fleas and extra hair.  You guessed it -- he would absolutely not let anyone vacuum the furniture unless you got him first.  And the brush -- Goodness Me the Brush!  He was actually jealous about that! 

After about 2 weeks of grooming and feeding and training, it turned out that we'd clearly gotten the pick of the litter, he was just so lousy with fleas, miserable from itchies, and probably a little anemic, that nobody could tell.  Nothing in the world could make me regret our decision to take Vern into our family.  What an incredible little boy!