The “S” Stands for Sucker

Editor’s Note: This is the first of what we hope will be several posts for On The Table, a group blog that is an experiment of sorts for us at The Columbian. We’ve had reporters team up on blogs in the past, but until now we’d never had a community- or reader-blog written as a collaborative effort. We’re excited to give this a try and hope the bloggers and you have as much fun with it as we do.

Back in 1999 I was finally ready for my dream dog – a black lab puppy. We were settled into a new house with room for a dog both inside and out, the kids were old enough to help and I was ready to welcome Czar into our lives. Eight years later, we let our oldest daughter, then ten, pick out a puppy for herself. She is the child who rarely asks for anything, is more concerned about giving than receiving, and so, when she talked about a puppy, we said, “Yes.” She searched the Internet and found the perfect puppy in Arizona. Thurman was flown to us when he wasn’t much bigger than a guinea pig. One big black dog and one small white dog – perfect!

Perfect that is until a stray dog found our rural neighborhood, evading Animal Control for nearly two weeks before finding the wooded area at the back of our lot. He was scared and scruffy. The kids began putting food at the edge of the woods, then gradually, over a few days, moving the food dish closer and closer to the house until the dog was being fed on the front porch. He finally warmed up to the kids enough to let them pet him and then they led him into the garage. While I’d like to be able to say I had nothing to do with this process, I was the one who first suggested putting out the food to coax the dog from the woods, so I wasn’t too upset when I opened the garage door and found the kids grouped around the big cinnamon and brown dog. They looked up at me and asked, almost in unison, “Can we keep him?” I told them I wasn’t sure, but warned them their dad was headed down the hall and if they wanted to make a case with him (he’s not exactly a “dog person”), they’d better come up with something compelling quickly. Brian opened the garage door a few seconds later and, Troy who was 16 at the time, said, “Dad! Meet Reggie.”

You may have noticed our little white dog has a pretty big name for such a little guy. Thurman was named after Thurman Munson, the New York Yankees’ catcher, the Team Captain who died in a plane crash back in the 70s. My husband is an avid baseball fan and the Yankees are his favorite team, Thurman Munson was his favorite player. You can probably guess where this is going. One of his other favorite players is Reggie Jackson; how could he say, “No,” to a dog named Reggie.

It was at this point my husband suggested I might have some type of branded “S” on my forehead that, like the whistle only dogs can hear, could be seen only by animals. The “S”- standing for sucker – letting the animals know here was a person who wouldn’t turn them away. There may be something to that idea because a few years later a small, lost dog found his way to our house. He spent the evening being chased up the hill by the neighbor boy and then running back to our front porch. My husband surmised that Reggie, who stood watching this scene from our yard, was calling to the lost dog in dog-speak, “Hey, Dude, come back here. This lady takes care of stray dogs.”

Oslo, named in honor of our Norwegian foreign exchange student who was leaving the day after he arrived, was obviously somebody’s pet, but he had no collar, no tags, no chip. We placed ads on Craig’s List and watched both Craig’s List and The Columbian for lost dog notices. We sent out emails to our neighborhood and the two nearby neighborhoods. We waited a month before claiming him as ours.

Am I a sucker? Yes, probably, but I also am a dog lover. I love their devotion, I love their bodies that wiggle and wag with pleasure, and most of all I love that every morning is a good morning in a dog’s life.

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