Pet Memoir

Pet Memoir

A quick rundown of my fur-siblings and fur-children.

Pet Memoir

A Quick Rundown of My Fur-Siblings and Fur-Children.

The first dog I owned — the first dog that lived alone with me, that is — was named Lady*. My family had owned Lady’s mom, too — Purdy.


I always refer to her as my fur-sister because she was a part of my immediate family growing up (as was my other fur-sister, a miniature poodle named Cocoa).

Lady was an outside dog for most of her life, but, when I decided to give her a chance at being my inside dog at my new apartment, she never once — unless she was sick and couldn’t control it — used the bathroom inside.

Ultimately, as all living things do, she died. I’ve written a brief discussion of that evening elsewhere. It was a hard time in my life —the end of a long-term relationship, alcohol had become my focus, et cetera — and her death only made it harder, especially considering I had to make the call.

I knew, of course, I’d get another dog. Not to replace Lady, but to save someone. I figured if I couldn’t save Lady from the bloat (or, more actively, the fluid in the needle) that killed her, I could at least save another dog. That’s what I told the person at the shelter who interviewed me for approval to adopt.

But I waited. I didn’t want to rush it. I wanted to mourn her**.

I visited the Austin Animal Shelter, back when it was at Town Lake, a few times — the first couple just to browse,” that is, force myself to leave each time without one, two or more of the sad-eyed pups who were lingering in the cells in the building behind me in my arms on the way to the car.

Happy Jeff

One day, as I was closing in on deciding on a dog (a black one, since they’re the least likely to be adopted), I went to chat with one of the shelter’s adoption specialists. (I’d already been approved as a qualified adopter.) Behind the counter was a strange-looking, medium-sized dog with short white fur with brown-ish spots in it, big Yoda-like ears that never flop but instead oscillate like ground radars. Misty came with me to meet him the second time. The animal care specialists told me what a great dog he was (they were right) and how he’d already been on a local morning show’s dog of the day” segment twice and was going on again the next morning.

Suffice to say, they had to find another dog for the next morning’s show, and I’d just adopted my first dog all by my lonesome. It was going to be just a boy and his dog.” Then, Misty and I started seriously dating. (Though, after taking her to meet Jeff before I adopted him, I think the path ahead was clearer than I saw at the time.)

Me and Jeff in 2009

Jeff looks far meaner than he is anywhere near being. He’s the least likely to bite you and the most likely to be beat up in a dogfight — despite his clear advantages — because he’s a lover and not a fighter. He’s also rather aloof, cat-like. He’s about nine, but acts like a puppy still. Or a teenager, at most.

In the beginning, Jeff destroyed my apartment one night while I was out. I mean, destroyed. Paper and trash and god-knows-what everywhere. The screen door to the balcony was in shreds. I quickly passed out from the evening of drinking while Misty proceeded to clean the entire apartment. This is shortly after we started dating, mind you***.

You’d be amazed how often we hear people say or have them ask us if he’s a dingo. In fact, we had his DNA tested. Because, I mean, look at him, what the hell is he? Turns out: nothing super-interesting. Pit bull, Rottweiler, Chow-Chow and some African hound, probably a Basenji, given he doesn’t bark but grunts. He’s a killer all right.

Jeff was my first fur-son.

I’ve already told the story of George. And Sam, the Australian Shepherd we adopted from some seemingly fly-by-night adoption organization (he was covered in ticks when we got him home — so bad that, after pulling off twenty or more, we decided the vet was the place to be to get a prescription to kill em off). But I’ll let Misty (saltyraconteur) tell Sam’s story. He was most in love with her. They shared a special bond.

Sam and Misty

And then there’s Carl, the rat terrorist. We adopted him from an anarchist who’d found him wandering MLK Blvd in Austin outside a former friend’s coffeeshop. She’d tried finding his owner, but no one claimed him. She offered him to me one day and he came home with me that same day. (Strangely enough, just the day before Misty and I had gone looking at smaller dogs to adopt. Serendipity. This is why I should hang out at coffeeshops more.)

The anarchist had named him Karl Marx. I’m not certain of the connection she saw in that, but we quickly changed his name to simply Carl.”


And now we have Luther. We think he’s a bit more of a puppy than the one-year-old the shelter led us to believe. In the follow-up to this piece, I’ll discuss his adoption and our agreement to transport another shelter dog to Austin to meet with a foster mom from Cairns Rescue USA.

Luther’s first picture at our apartment, still wearing his post-neuter cone

Rescuing dogs makes a good day, especially when we’re so often confronted with the evil of humans.

My mom says this is our calling. We should open a dog rescue farm. Sadly, I don’t know that it’s a calling that can actually financially support one.

*My parents also had a small black poodle named Tramp. You get the picture. 
**I couldn’t afford ashes or any of that kind of remembrance thing at the time. I was forced to leave her body there on the floor of the emergency vet’s office.
***Jeff took an immediate liking to Misty, quickly attempting to become a lap dog.

August 4, 2017