Friday, March 30, 2007

He's just so cuuuttte.

Okay, I confess. Even after a year, I'm still sort of agog at just how darn cute Zipper is.

I grew up with a succession of dogs, mostly mixed breeds with the exception of one psychotic Scottish Terrier. The last dog we had before all of us went off to college was a dachshund/whatever mix named Polly who resembled a small coffee table with legs. And I always wanted big dogs. We never had one.

When I got my first Doberman I was graduating college and moving out on my own. I wanted a dog that would make me feel safe. This was in the early 1980s and Dobermans were at the height of their popularity. I was very lucky with Blue. He was the product of a puppy mill (I didn't know any better). But he was truly a great dog. I fell in love with the breed and have had them ever since. And the size of Dobermans has always been something I've liked. I liked having a bigger dog. I like their heft and presence, their gravitas. In all these years, sometimes living in very marginal neighborhoods (a crack addict killed 3 people less than half a mile from where I lived once) I've never had any problems. A Doberman looks like no other breed and is unmistakable. People cross to the other side of the street when they see you.

But having Dobermans comes with burdens too. People have sometimes unreasonable fears. It can be hard to get insurance. I encounter breed prejudice even in agility and obedience judges. Sometimes young toughs think it would be funny to bark and lunge at my Dobermans. I have to keep them inside when I'm not home even though I have a dog door and fenced yard, because I've caught people shooting at them with bb guns and throwing rocks at them. Dobermans don't live long enough and have some really serious health issues.

I'd been contemplating a smaller breed for quite awhile when I was offered Zipper. I actually didn't want a toy dog. Too small, too fragile. I'm not light and I live with two Dobermans, one of which has more drive than a Ferrari and who is not at all cat safe. I had settled on a Rat Terrier as my perfect smaller breed--sturdy, not as driven or dog-aggressive as a lot of the Jacks, and generally does well in agility. But Pam and Eddie (Eddie really) convinced me to come out and look at their litter.

I walked into the kennel room and there they were. Six 3-month-old puppies. All I could see at first were blurs that looked like little brown pieces of popcorn. Boing-bing-boing. I sat on the floor and was swarmed by tiny puppies. I was offered the choice of two males. One I decided was just a bit more reserved than I wanted. I still wasn't sure I wanted one at all. But I realized this was a great opportunity to get a really, really nice puppy. So Zipper entered m y life and the rest, as they say, is history.

Okay, I guess I've wandered all over the place with this post without ever addressing the title, which is that he's just so darn CUTE. After all these years of having big dogs, his very smallness is just totally fascinating to me. I love having a dog I can carry. I love having little crates, little food, little poops. But most of all, I'm totally fascinated with how much of a dog he is, just in a very small package. Which sounds stupid, but I think in my mind anything that little should be a cat. Not a dog. His feet are no bigger than my thumb for Lord's sake. Yet he is all dog and all boy-dog at that. Last night I gave him a rub down before I went to sleep. He stood there and hummed with pleasure. And yep, he was just so darn CUTE.

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