May 6, 2013

58 of 65

Darcy Dog

After the passing of Emmy, I didn’t know if we would ever have another dog.  It was partly because it feels so bad when a puppy grows up, experiences the prime of life, grows old and dies, all before your eyes.  Their lives are much like yours and mine, only compressed.  Unlike humans, though, dogs don’t leave you – they are with you for their whole lifetime, as long as you will have them.

It was also partly because our children were grown and Cathy and I were both working full time.  I didn’t want the dog to have to spend so much time alone.  Oh sure, our cat Mimi would be around, but she does not enjoy the company of dogs.

Our daughter Suzanne was with us when she was out of school, and during those times we had her Shih Tzu, Bailey, giving us some good dog days.  Eventually, Suzanne moved out on her own and then got married.  Bailey was not around as much after that, though we do get to watch her and Marvel (her husband Jeff’s dog) during their vacations, ski trips, etc.

When I finally set a date to retire from my work at Heritage Title Company, Suzanne decided it was finally time for me to have a new dog.  Every week she would look at the web sites and Facebook pages of shelters and dog rescue organizations and email me pictures of their dogs.  In mid-February (2012), she convinced me to go out and look at some of the puppies that Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue League made available for adoption at a local Petsmart store.  I thought they were all wonderful, but our house was not puppy-proofed and I needed to make some repairs on the back fence.  There were many “reasons” not to take one.

Two weeks later, Suzanne accompanied me to another Rocky Mountain Puppy Rescue League event.  There was a list of the puppies available for adoption, and over to one side was a cute little 12-week old black and tan dog that had been named Sugarpie.  They said she was a Kelpie mix.  I was told Sugarpie and her litter mate had just arrived from a shelter in Kansas and they had not listed her with the others because she was so new.  I began playing with her, and she seemed to like me.  Nevertheless, I was not quite ready for a new puppy.

Forty-five minutes later, after I had held the dog some more and Suzanne had insisted I was meant to grow old with that particular dog, I agreed to adopt her.

As soon as we got home, I told my wife that we needed to determine whether we would let the puppy (I wasn’t crazy about the name Sugarpie, so I knew that would change) lie on the couch, remembering that she could grow to be 35-40 pounds.  Minutes later, we Darcy puppytook the picture you see here.

She told us, in her puppy talk, that the adoption papers I had signed included a lying on the couch clause.  It remains her favorite place.


It had been a cold and snowy February.  We had about a foot of snow in our yard, where I got to spend quite a bit of time as I took the puppy out every three hours, night and day, until she was potty trained.

For several days, we contemplated a new name for her.  I felt it should be a “D” name, so I would repeat “D-d-d-d,” trying to determine what would come next.  Suzanne and Jeff thought it should be Daisy, after Princess Daisy in the Mario games.  I settled on Darcy because the song “Darcy Farrow” popped into my head as I was saying “D-d-d-d-d.

Darcy has gone through a basic obedience training class and graduated magna cum laude.  She is very smart.  The most important “tricks” she learned were “drop it” and “leave it.”  She has a tendency to take anything she sees into her mouth to either eat it or tear it into pieces.  We would practice the commands while walking around the neighborhood and on the Ralston Creek Trail.  Whenever Darcy saw a piece of trash or a stick, she would stand next to it until I said, “Leave it.”  I would then reward her with a treat as she walked happily to the next piece of trash to wait for another reward.  If I did not tell her to “leave it,” she would take it in her mouth so I would have to tell her to “drop it” and give a reward for that.  She trained me well.

For my birthday, a little over two weeks after we adopted Darcy, Suzanne and Michael (our son) gave me a doggy DNA test kit. We took a swab sample from Darcy’s cheek and sent it to a laboratory that analyzed the DNA to tell us what breed she “really” is.  The report I received said she is half Cocker Spaniel and half Chihuahua.

I don’t think so.  Look at the picture.  That is not a Cocker Spaniel-Chihuahua.  I wrote to the testing company to ask if they may have sent me someone else’s report.  I received a reply explaining how perfect was the science that went into their testing.  I don’t buy it.  Studies have shown that the DNA of wolves is 98.8% identical to that of dogs, and they are entirely different species.  The difference in the DNA between different breeds of dogs is so small that it cannot be detected.*

Darcy is now a little more than a year old.  She weighs 24 ½ pounds, and is not going to get much bigger.  She believes that is a perfect size for a dog, and she is probably right.  We are going to have some great stories before we are through, when she has had the opportunity to know the prime of her life and to mature.  Perhaps I will write those later.

For now, I will close by saying she is a great companion, and my family and I have really enjoyed watching her grow.


*An old joke asks, if there is only a 1.2% difference in the DNA between a dog and a wolf, what is the difference between a dog and a fox?  The answer is:  About three beers.  It is a bit sexist, so I won’t tell it here.

2 thoughts on “DAY 58 – DARCY DOG

  1. I’ve always said that when I grow up I’d like to be as good as any dog I’ve ever known and come to love. I’ve known some good ones. Dogs and people are the same. Love them and the noble virtues appear in their behavior. Ignore, degrade or devalue them and they will revert to sullenness or savagery.

    One short story of many. About 20 years ago my wife and I adopted a 2 year old yellow lab and named him Bud. He lived with us and we loved him. He wore a heart-shaped brass tag on his collar stamped with his name and address and phone number. When Bud died I put the tag on my key chain.

    About six months later I was in a lumberyard waiting for a loader to help me load my truck. The loaders in that particular lumberyard were mostly strong, competent, tough men. Good guys, but outwardly staunch and stolid and rough and ready. While waiting for the loader I took my keys out for some reason and saw Bud’s tag there.

    When the loader appeared he found me standing there with tears streaming down my face. He asked me what had happened. I managed to tell him Bud was gone, and held out the tag to him. He took it, and looked at it for a long time. Then he put his hand on my shoulder and we both stared at the ground – two big, strong, competent men grieving the loss of friends together until we could raise our heads back up and carry on. The memory moves me to this day.

    Bud’s tag is still on my key chain. Always will be.


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