The call came on a Sunday evening in mid-December. It was totally unexpected and admittedly took me aback. I might even possibly have been speechless but, knowing me, that wouldn't have lasted long.
Would I like a new dog?
The caller was someone whose knowledge and common sense I admire though "dog" was not just then near the top of my list.
Yes, I had been thinking (a lot) and talking (a little) of getting a pup to replace (yes, impossible I know) my Major. Did I have the stamina, much less the time or the patience for a new puppy? Golden pups are definitely the most adorable but they do require a lot - and, with any large breed, that babyhood lasts for years. And years. Was I up to such a challenge?
This was certainly no pup. Nine years old, that can be dangerously close to the end as cancer takes more and more of our loved ones with a normal life expectancy no greater than twelve. He had an eye problem and required neutering if I expected to keep him close to home. That was a definite requirement on my part.
All right, those were the bad points.
I hoped that was all. What's good?
He's had all his shots and just got a clean bill of health from my local vet. If it wasn't stressed then, I quickly learned when I went to meet him that he was gorgeous - a deeper red than I'm used to with a super build. He seemed to want very little but to be loved and, oh, yes, to love.
I took Minor along for the initial meeting. Although he did wander over to say hello to the neighbor's cat, he seemed completely nonplussed by all the other dogs even when the stranger joined him in the now-very-crowded back seat. There was one squabble over sitting rights on the long drive home but that was quickly settled and, after only one further row, the two have elected to live in peace. They even respect the food and treats of the other!
Needing a musical term to disguise the innocent, I looked for words for "tranquil." "Tranquillo" means that or quietly or calmly. It's a lovely fit. The Italian wants it pronounced trahn-kwil-loh so he'll become Quillow. Sounds good. (Think I can remember that?)
The only non-tranquility centers on the cat. Poor cat.
I'm not certain Quillow would attack her. Nor am I certain he wouldn't. It's obvious there haven't been cat friends in his earlier life.
Seeing that he refuses to go down the basement steps, Beauty happily paraded back and forth right at the base of the stairs. But she was upstairs with a dog who hadn't yet seen her when I left for church. Any thought of truce ended sometime before I returned. Not all of us express the peace of Christmas in exactly the same way.
I write this when Quillow has only been here a little over a week. It's been wonderful. Like Minor, he's content to stay home and hasn't roamed. He is a total gentleman. He makes no demands and tries his hardest to figure out what I want so he can do it. He's courteous and remains a real love. (As for "lover," he'll have his appointment with the vet early in the new year.)
The dogs get along. Maybe the cat will too. For now I have even more love in my life - and two hands for petting.
The blessings of the season indeed!
Susan Crossett is a Cassadaga resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org