Monday, December 14, 2009

(Re)opening hearts

When I suggested to my son that we foster a greyhound, his initial reaction was eagerness. But a few hours before Macho was to be delivered to our house, I found Charlie in the office, lying on a chair, petting his cat, being uncharacteristically silent.

"I'm not sure if I'm ready for another dog," he said.

We lost our Sally during the summer, and have been making do quite nicely (or so we've thought) with two cats. But we've missed her, and missed having a dog. (Click here to read more). My running pal and his wife have a houseful of greyhounds -- dogs I'm quite fond of, dogs that remind me of the pleasures of canine company.

Yet I understood what Charlie was saying. I empathized with his mixed emotions, felt my heart bruise at the idea of another dog stepping (albeit gingerly) into it.

"Charlie," I said, "no dog will ever replace Sally. We don't expect one to. We don't want one to; that's not the reason we're getting (even temporarily) another one."

"I know," he said. "I'm just thinking."

Macho's been here 24 hours now. He has slept, eaten, gone on a few short walks, conked out afterward, and played for perhaps a total of three minutes with a squeaky toy we bought him before he got here.

When Charlie got into the car after school, he didn't even rummage for his drive-home snack before he asked what Macho had done today.

We know Macho has already been adopted. We're just keeping him till after Christmas, when his forever family will bring him home for good. Meanwhile, we delight in hearing dog toenails on the hardwood floors again. Once more, dark-puddled eyes mesmerize us. We've pulled out the Milk Bones we'd bought for Sally and had yet to throw away. Macho doesn't seem that interested, but I rather like seeing them again.  

Macho is big. He is white. He is a bit of a lummox, somewhat of an lug, the sweetest galoot you can imagine.We're pretty attached to him already. He slept in Charlie's room half of that first night here; right now, he's conked out by Charlie's bed for what we hope is a full night of sleep.

A half-hour earlier, Charlie was in the dining room, his laptop on the table, finishing his homework. He said something, which initially I thought was directed at me. Now, thinking back, I'm not so sure.

"I had forgotten," I heard him say, "how much fun having a dog is."

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