The Dog

Gryphon is a good dog. Some people spell his name 'Griffin', but it's really 'Gryphon'. When we get mail from his vet, it's always addressed to 'Griffin', but we all know it's really for Gryphon. Gryphon gets a little annoyed by it all, but he's fortunately a pretty easygoing kind of dog.

We adopted Gryphon from the Humane Society almost three years ago. I had the wild and wacky idea that our family needed a dog, despite the fact that I have major allergies to many animals, including the canine variety. My allergies are so bad that I end up with a major asthma attack, unable to breathe, coughing up both lungs and a spleen, AND I lose my voice. I still believed it was meant to be that we have a dog. I grew up with animals, and thought we would somehow be cheating our children out of some huge and very important thing if we denied them the ability and opportunity to have and take care of a dog.

So, after talking to Mr. Handsome about it for a bit, and going through a lot of heartache because he cares about me so much that he at first thought I was absolutely nuts to even think about wanting to get any kind of animal (we already had 2 very very cute guinea pigs to whom I was semi-allergic), and if we were even to think about getting any kind of dog (Mr. Handsome grew up surrounded by animals too, and loves them, and misses having them around), it would have to be a big one, not one of those tiny things that are basically rats, as he put it. We finally agreed that if I could find a dog that did not cause me to go into cardiac arrest, we could think about maybe getting one, possibly.

So I went ahead and registered with the Humane Society, taking this as his blessing and a definite go-ahead. I told them I was looking for a big dog, and it had to be either a standard poodle or a Portugese water dog since I had determined that those were two of the best dogs to have for people with allergies, and they were also big enough to please my husband (bet you don't hear THAT too often, eh?!). The staff at the Humane Society told me with no uncertainty that I would probably never ever hear from them because they just don't get those kinds of dogs. One woman said she'd been working there for over five years, and had yet to see one darken their doorway.

I thought that, you know, if it was meant to be, it would happen, not that I ever really think about things that way. Like, my son was meant to have cancer, so he did. Yeah, right. And it was such a bonus for him and everyone too! And that was the end of it, I thought. I would never hear from them.

Two weeks later, just after New Year's 2006, we get a call from Mindy at the Humane Society telling my husband (I was out driving someone somewhere at the time) that they just got a 6-month-old standard poodle, and she couldn't believe it, but it had happened, and did we want to come and take a look at him. Mr. Handsome had NO idea what Mindy was talking about since I had neglected to mention to him that I had registered my name there looking for just such a dog. Oops.

When I got home from my errands, he gave me "that" look, and wanted an explanation, to which I said, "Well, remember when we talked about getting a dog, and you said as long as I didn't react violently to it, and he was big, we could get one for the kids?" My husband remembered the conversation a little differently, apparently. He said he never agreed to this, that it was just a discussion, and that he wasn't so sure this was such a great idea for many many many reasons.

I don't really remember how we arrived to the conclusion we arrived at, because it was probably so traumatizing that I've buried it deeply in my brain somewhere hoping to never have to revisit it again. But, let me say that we did agree, sort of, that we would see what we ALL thought of the dog, I would make sure I did NOT react to the dog, and then maybe we would adopt him and give it some time and see how things went. How committed is that, I ask you?! Pretty damn committed, I say. That's about as committed as we get around here about anything.

So, I took my allergy medications (so that there would be less chance of reacting, so that we could adopt the dog, of course!) before going to meet Gryphon on a cold January morning, and I met him by the back door to the Humane Society building. I loved him as soon as I saw him. Perky, so darn cute, apricot, soft, dark love eyes, with kangaroo legs and a body that didn't stop quivering. He kept going after my mittens as well, which was endearing for about 30 seconds. So I petted him, sniffed him (he really really stank thanks to all the other orphaned animals taking refuge at the shelter), and then I hoped I didn't react. Well, I did react a bit, but not enough that I would have been honest about it with anyone, especially my husband!

Next step was getting Mr. Handsome and the kids in to see how Gryphon reacted to them and vice versa. The kids, of course, loved him immediately, despite the fact that Gryphon pretty much ignored them except for humping my then 10-year-old daughter, Milly (not her real name, but seems fitting somehow). Gryphon was just so ecstatic to be out of that damn cage that he didn't know what to do, so he ended up sniffing every corner of the room we were put in, pulling out toys the staff use to assess animals for adoptability, and peeing a couple of times just for fun. Mr. Handsome was not so impressed, needless to say. Not only was he worried that this dog was big (I'm pretty sure HE is the one who WANTED a BIG dog, no?!), but he was concerned that Gryphon basically ignored we the people, and focused solely on the multitude of toys in the open room. I suggested that maybe, just maybe, the dog was so freaking happy just to be out of the hell hole that had been his home for the past 2 weeks, that at this point, he couldn't care less if there was a human being in the room or a turd. Mr. Handsome, a man of many talents, NOT one of which is just 'going for it' and flying by the seat of his pants once in a blue moon, was also quite worried that it seemed that Gryphon was born in what we think was a puppy mill on the Quebec side, and lord knows what he would be infected with, what his personality would be like, etc.

We ended up deciding to adopt the smelly, hairy animal, with the understanding that we would give it a month or so to see how things worked, or didn't work, and if they didn't work out, we would have to consider finding a new home for Gryphon. I was determined to have things work out, come hell or high water, or both.
Well, happy ending! Gryphon has been with us now for 2.5 years, almost 3, and he's wonderful. It took quite a lot of consistency and training on our part to get him to stop peeing and pooping in the house (more on that another day), to learn how to walk on a leash, stop nipping at people, and just listen to at least a couple of commands.
Headstrong, still loves to hump, and extremely goofy, but he's great, we all love him, and even Mr. Handsome has a place in his heart for him. You just never know...


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