Sunday, August 30, 2009

Hugo's Birthday

Today is the one-year anniversary of the day we brought our dog Hugo home from the shelter. In his honor we had a few people over today to celebrate what we deemed as "Hugo's 5th birthday." Okay, maybe it was more of a housewarming party and we just used Hugo as an excuse, but there was definitely canine treats and a dog-shapped cake involved.

For someone who never had dogs or cats growing up and at one point would have been described as a "non-pet person," my first year as a Doggie Mom has been one of learning. Everyone had always told me about the awesome bond between a dog and its owner, but I don't think I ever quite understood how much I would grow to love that damn dog.

Tim and I had been talking about getting a dog for years. He's wanted one since I met him, and I really warmed to the idea and was excited about it too. It was over three years ago that we got our first dog book and started to decipher the recommendations for which breeds would be the best fit for us. When we were looking for a new apartment last summer, we knew we wanted an apartment that allowed pets. We found one and started searching even before we had moved in. Fast-forward several weeks and we were on the real hunt for a dog. We read Cesar Millan's book and put his series The Dog Whisperer on our NetFlix. We were a little frustrated in the beginning because we found out a Petfinder dog that caught our eye had already been adopted once we arrived at the shelter (even after we called and they said he was still there). Then, we applied for a dog that was being fostered, and for reasons we will never know, we weren't chosen to be the new mom and dad. I can only assume urban-bias--perhaps they didn't think the dog should be in a city apartment with no yard. Hell, they let anyone have children. We just wanted to save a life, adopt a dog and live happily after.

Well, the last Wednesday in August Tim and I were in Rittenhouse Square Park for their "Concert in the Park" series and the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) was there with several volunteers and several pooches. We went over to say hello and immediately fell in love with one of the dogs. They told us he was a St. Bernard / collie mix (I think the collie part was just a guess)--he has the coloring and face of a St. Bernard without the size. After a nice long walk with the dog, a discussion with one of the volunteers, and a walk with another dog for good measure, we adopted him right there. They said he was about four years old, maybe a little older and a family surrender. Apparently, his old family gave him up because they couldn't afford to feed him. He was skinny and had hair loss on his lower back and tail due to malnutrition. They told us the hair would grow back, all we had to do was feed him. The shelter called him King, but said it hadn't been his name for long and we should feel free to change it. We did, and he's been our Hugo ever since.

I could go into detail about the kennel cough he had when we first adopted him and how it developed into pneumonia, his separation anxiety issues and Houdini-eque escape, our car trip to Florida and back last Christmas, but those are stories that will have to wait. It's been a long day. I have doggie treats and human food to put away. And, a dog to walk.

Happy Birthday, Hugo!

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