We had five small children when my husband agreed that it was time to get a dog. I immediately went to the library and began to research breeds. My ideal dog had to be intelligent, easy to train, medium energy level, friendly, and most important, good with children. After hours of reading, jotting notes, and making graphs, I had narrowed it down to four breeds. Dog training books piled up on my night stand. I was going to be prepared when the new puppy came home. I was going to have the perfect dog.
One night we packed the kids in the car and went for a drive. We stopped at a strip mall for ice cream, and there just happened to be a pet store there, so we went in. Now, we weren’t planning on getting a dog there. After all, puppies at pet stores are usually from puppy mills or there’s something wrong with them. At least that’s what I’d read. You always got a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder. I told the kids that we were just looking.
My children pressed their noses against the glass and oohed over the cute pups. I gave them a quick glance, but I was definitely not interested. So when I turned around and saw my husband standing at the cash register with this little brown puppy in his arms, my mouth dropped open. “What are you doing? You can’t buy that puppy.”
“Oh, come on. Look how cute she is.” Said puppy licked his chin and squirmed in delight.
I frowned at him. “What kind is she?”
“Uh… well, she’s a beagle-basset-pug.”
“She’s a mutt.”
“Sure, but mutts make the best pets. See, the kids love her already.” The kids all jumped up and down, cheering. I thought about all the meticulous research I had done and groaned.
“Come on, honey, it will be fine. The moment I saw her, I just knew she was the right dog for us.”
I stormed out of the store. The rest of the family gleefully ignored me as they bought food, bed, leash, collar, squeaky toys, and all the other accoutrements that accompany owning a dog. They met me back at the car.
“So what are we going to name her?” my husband asked his enthusiastic minions as they piled inside. My oldest son, who was holding the puppy on his lap, chirped up immediately. “Don’t you know, Dad? Her name is Cindy.”
And so Cindy became a member of the family. She may have been an ugly, brown dog, but to my kids she was the most beautiful dog ever born. She had a Snoopy kind of attitude towards life: she did things if and when she felt like it. She turned out to be hard to potty train and prone to chasing cats, digging up the garden, and acting as if she was four times her size when other dogs were around. The dog house never was slept in, but she always knew whose toes needed warming on any given night. She never did consistently obey anything more than Sit, but she knew exactly how to get tidbits from small hands reaching under the table, and how to comfort a tearful child whose heart was broken. Cindy was our enthusiastic companion on walks, kept me company when my husband had to work late, and faithfully kept the house and yard free of burglars, cats, and mice. Somewhere along the way this jaunty little dog stole my heart. At the end of her long life, I had to admit that Cindy had turned out to be the perfect dog.