By D. Allan Kerr
The problem sometimes with really loving someone is they can manipulate your adoration to get what they want.
Which is why we now have seven – yes 7 – dogs living in our house.
Not so very long ago we only had one. She was a Jack Russell terrier, her name was Jesse and she was with my wife for 17 extremely devoted years. Then Jesse had to be put to sleep.
I wrote about all this here back in 2017.
I wrote how my wife, who had vowed to never get another dog, proposed less than a week after Jesse’s death that we start fostering rescue dogs trying to find a new home.
And as my sister-in-law recently reminded me, I also made a prediction.
Knowing what suckers my wife and daughter can be when it comes to critters, I warned if we started taking in wayward pooches “by next year we would have four damn dogs in the house.” I wrote this in July 2017. You can look it up if you don’t believe me.
I was off by a year.
It started in June 2017, in the midst of our dogsitting run. My wife, prone to the evils of the Internet, came across online photos of two just ridiculously adorable rescue puppies: 4-month-old Jack Russell/Dachshund brothers named Martin and Fletcher. She showed the pics to our preteen daughter and of course after that my opinion meant nothing – I was outvoted.
We already had two foster dogs at the time, thru Lucky Pup Rescue out of Kennebunk, Maine. We picked up the newest one Saturday morning and then later the same day drove to Lebanon, New Hampshire, to permanently adopt Martin and Fletcher from Passion for Pets Rescue.
I sometimes call them the Guinness Twins because of their black-and-tan coloring.
Fletcher is the bigger and more rugged of the two. He’s our outdoor adventurer and hunter, our protector.
Martin, or Marty as we call him, is quite literally a lap dog. He has the sweeter nature and is very much the snuggler. In bed at night he likes to sleep with his head resting right across my wife’s neck.
We continued to foster other dogs as well, thru Lucky Pup. For a few months we had one particular canine who was very sweet and loving, but also a lot of work. He barked loudly and often, swiped food off countertops and had a tendency to crap small mountains.
That was on a Saturday morning this past July. While I was still at work the following Monday, my wife texted a photo of two old Dachshunds – ages 14 and 11 – staring pathetically at me with long sad faces.
“They were the product of a divorce and I feel they need to have a good home in their senior years like Jesse had,” she wrote, followed by a bunch of optimistic hopeful emoji pics.
Naturally my vote didn’t matter again so Hyme and Fritz came to stay with us.
They were calmer than the pups, and much, much slower. They were also insanely lovable and somewhat sad. Apparently neither of the previous owners wanted them after the divorce and they bounced around for a bit before arriving here.
In all honesty I thought we could just continue to foster them and allow Lucky Pup Rescue to pay for their food and medical bills. But crunch time arrived just three weeks later when the wife received word someone was looking at these old mutts.
“I thought we’d have lot more time,” I texted back in a panic. “Whoever sees them is gonna want them!”
So fate forced our hand and we coughed up the fee to permanently adopt these senior citizens. This officially made us “foster failures,” as I always knew we would be.
The women in my family lack the discipline to prevent themselves from falling in love with pretty much every cute canine they encounter.
I’d never really had a preference for Dachshunds before, or Dachshund mixes, but turns out they’re pretty fun, lovable and protective.
The four of them look like brothers when they’re together, although Fletcher in particular – having inherited the legs of his Jack Russell lineage – towers especially over 11-year-old Fritz, who has the classic Dachshund physique of an oversized burnt hot dog on two-inch legs. And the older boys are more black-and-grey than black-and-tan.
Dinner time is quite entertaining.
As I prepare their food, Hyme rocks this curious four-paw shuffle and emits little whines until he gets his food. I have this process now where I put down his dish first, as he’s 14 years old and takes the longest to eat.
While I do so Fritz runs a giddy ritualistic loop from the kitchen to the hall to the dining room and back to the kitchen, before I place his dish outside the kitchen door. Then Marty gets his dish in the kitchen and Fletcher gets his in the dining room, because they eat the fastest.
Then we stand watch in the middle, as they all tend to drift to other bowls if they think no one is looking.
Our daughter, a creative and imaginative and downright kooky sort, has developed a wide range of different nicknames she and my wife employ for the pooches, to the point where I’m surprised the poor things know when they’re being addressed.
Fritz, for example, is also called Fritzers, Freenzers, Fritsies, Schnitzel, and Sheenzes, among others. Fletcher is referred to as Flaynier, Flaydianyor, Flaynier and Flates.
You get the picture.
But now my wife’s mother and her husband have joined the household, along with their two Golden Retrievers, Ian and Annora, and their feisty white Maltese, Quinn. Between our dogs and theirs, we have quite a pack.
As you can imagine, peace and quiet don’t co-exist in our home much these days. But now I can’t imagine having just a single dog ever again. When we’re at work or school, those family members left behind are never alone.
For those who haven’t already taken in rescue dogs, I can assure you the rewards make the investment worthwhile. Even if you wind up being “foster failures” like us.
(Dec. 4, 2019)
He can also be found on www.seacoastonline.com