Dogs are like tattoos, once you have one, you immediately want more; however, unlike dogs, tattoos don’t need to be walked, fed and they don’t pee inside.
After we bought Delilah, we discussed getting a second dog, not straight away, not even in the medium term, but we decided that at some point, we would like a flock of corgis.
We knew we weren’t ready for another puppy yet. Puppies are no walk in the park, unless you’re actually walking them … in a park, so we wanted to wait until the time was right, maybe when we next move and are settled down in one spot.
Still, we started to sense Delilah might respond well to a buddy. When we lived in Newtown it was dogs galore, all the time, but in our new neighbourhood, we don’t see many at all, not even in the dog parks. People just seem to have dogs that stay in the backyard and we can go for weeks without even meeting another dog on a walk.
So we thought about what we wanted to do.
And we decided on this: we wanted to find an older dog. An older rescue dog, a dog that might have trouble finding new owners because of their age, a sweet, old guy looking for a retirement home.
I started the hunt. I found one old gentleman, a corgi cross, who’d been in a foster home for over a year. Turned out he was a bit bitey, so we crossed him off the list.
I tried to convince B that adopting an older Papillon didn’t even count as adopting a dog, because they’re basically just a set of fluffy ears.
One day I was scrolling and a saw a guy.
I scrolled past.
I scrolled back.
I clicked the link and read a little about him.
I scrolled some more.
I scrolled quickly back and copied the link and send it to B.
The link was for a old beagle … an old, old beagle, all of 12 years, which is 64 in beagle years!
His name was Snoopy and in the pictures he was relaxing in the sun.
Now, I know beagles, the dog I grew up with, Bill, was part beagle.
I knew they have noses like magnets for smells, that they are water dogs and hunting dogs and that they’re sturdy and like to eat (like corgis!) and that they have soft, floppy ears and have a nice temperament and a deep bark.
I emailed his foster mum. She was a bit cagey about the details, and had only had Snoopy for three weeks herself, but we arranged a time for me to meet him and bring Delilah along.
On Thursday, in the pouring rain, I loaded Delilah into her carrier and we headed to the Central Coast. It was a stressful drive and traffic was awful. Just as we reached the outskirts of Gosford, Delilah managed to unzip her carrier and suddenly popped up next to me like, “Hey! How’s it going? What are you doing?”.
We went to the meeting spot, a horrible little park with nothing besides a grim toilet block, a graffiti-ed basketball court and a sheltered picnic table. Three young guys stood around a car parked outside the toilet block. I started to feel like I’d made a huge mistake.
A few cars drove up slowly and did U-turns and left.
Finally a black car came to a halt, and in the back was the face of a curious beagle, ears pricked.
It was Snoopy.
We introduced the two dogs, Delilah was far more excited than Snoopy, who sat near his foster mum’s feet at stared off into middle distance.
She told me a bit about him, there’s no obvious history of physical abuse, but he shows behaviours that suggests he was yelled at a lot.
We sat in her car and filled out the transfer of ownership forms, both dogs in the back.
She gave me a quite substantial discount on his advertised price, because he was so old and she didn’t expect much interest in him, then she handed me his leash and he was mine.
I loaded both dogs into the back seat, Delilah into her carrier, but Snoopy moved up to the front passenger seat, sat down and stared quietly out the window.
I felt a pang. I remembered one afternoon many, many years ago when my family first adopted Bill. He sat on the seat, staring sadly out the window the whole way home and it was weeks before we even heard him bark.
This wasn’t going to be like getting a puppy, there were heartstrings involved in this one.
We began the drive back to Sydney, Snoopy alternating between looking out the window and trying to sleep.
I chatted to him a bit and gave him a few pats.
We were almost home, heading through a tunnel in slow traffic and I had my hand resting in the gearstick.
Suddenly Snoopy sighed, and shifted closer and rested his head on my hand.
Here was a guy who needed us.
It’s only been a few days now, but Snoopy is doing much better.
He’s shy and scared, so he never leaves my side, but at the same time, flinches when I pat him.
Delilah likes to jump on him and Wuz, after a brief moment of “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT AND WHY ARE THERE TWO OF THEM?!”, doesn’t seem phased at all.
Snoopy has quickly chosen a place, on the couch, under the heater, so we spend time there and I watch TV or read and he just chills.
He’s really enjoyed going on walks and has sudden bursts of excited energy where he skips along.
Last night we went to an enclosed dog park and he and Delilah both made a beeline for a giant muddy puddle and splashed around.
From the word go, they’ve taken to sleeping curled up together and sharing a bed.
He’s not great at always making it outside to pee, but for now we’ll put that down to living in his third home in three weeks and being nervous. He’ll sort it out.
It’s a very different relationship to the one we had with Delilah. We needed her, whereas in Snoopy’s case, he needs us.
And then there were two.