I fell in love last Sunday afternoon.  Truly, madly, deeply, head over heels, and at first sight.  His name is Ralphie and he is a boxer mix about a year old.

Dave and I started talking about getting a dog about a year ago–probably around the same time that Ralphie was born.  I spend a lot of time home alone during the day and I thought it would be nice to have a companion.  But our conversations about dogs usually went like this:

Beth: let’s get a dog!

Dave: You know you’d have to pick up his poop, right?

Beth: Oh. Right.  Never mind.

Then this fall I spent some time at my sister Stephanie’s house just after her son Brayden was born and I grew extremely attached to her dog, Joey.  Joey and I spent a lot of time just sitting together, me reading or doing my Rosetta Stone exercises while Joey curled up next to me.  I loved having that warm little body pressing against mine and his big wet eyes looking up at me when I spoke to him.  Since I had never really warmed to him before that visit, I was just as surprised as Stephanie by my budding relationship with Joey.

Those quiet moments with Joey showed me why I really wanted a dog: he was so happy just to sit with me and I was so comforted by his presence.  No, I think it goes even deeper than comfort; I felt pure love for him and from him.  When I came home I missed him and our companionship.  Joey also showed me that I am up to the ickier parts of dog ownership.  While I was there Joey was even more anxious than usual because of the change in his house, change that naturally accompanies the arrival of a new baby.  Unfortunately for my sister, Joey’s anxiety makes him throw up a lot.  One evening while I was there, Joey threw up while my sister and the rest of her family were too busy to deal with it.  To save Stephanie from insanity, I mopped up Joey’s barf.  And it didn’t gross me out, which, simple though it may sound, was a big deal.  It was the moment that changed everything.

That night while we were Skyping, Dave and I decided to get a dog.  We spent several weeks talking about what kind of dog we wanted and where would we get it.  We even had a name picked out: Douglas.  Last Sunday afternoon we finally had a chance to go to the Milo Foundation in San Rafael to have a look at the dogs available for adoption not actually thinking that we would be taking a dog home with us that day.  The first dog we saw was a sweet basset hound and both of us thought that she might be nice.  But then we saw Ralphie and that was it.  He was sitting at the front of his cage looking so handsome but very sad.  My heart opened all the way and I was a goner.  We only needed a quick walk down the block to know for sure that we wanted Ralphie, so we returned to Milo, adopted him, and took him home.

Ralphie, who is definitely not a Douglas, is adapting quickly to life outside the shelter, and we are learning more about him–and about dog ownership–every day.  He loves to go for walks because he is so interested in the world, and while he is learning not to pull on the leash, he gets stubborn when he’s picked up a particularly compelling scent.  We’ve taken him for a drive a few times and he seems to enjoy it, standing at attention with his front paws on the arm rest between my seat and the passenger seat and leaning his body against mine for balance, which I love.  We’re still figuring out what he wants to eat and when he wants to poop.  And because we are probably over-protective, we’re reluctant to leave him alone in the house for fear of traumatizing him.  But we will get over that.  For now we want him to be as comfortable and happy as possible.

For years I believed that I was not really a pet person.  I didn’t understand why people would allow animals indoors.  They pee, the poop, they shed, they drool, and they chew on things.  In fact, when we brought Ralphie home last Sunday afternoon, Dave and I both felt a little strange when we saw a dog walking around in our house.  But now I understand.  In the week that we have lived with Ralphie, Dave and I have fallen deeper in love with him every day.  When he wags not just his tail but also his whole body because he is so excited to see Dave or me, my heart melts and I don’t care about the dog hair on the couch or the time he pooped in the house.  I don’t even mind picking up his poop outside.  Although it’s been just a week, I already can’t imagine life without Ralphie any more than I can imagine life without Dave.  There may be only three of us, but our pack is complete.