When I spent the better part of two weeks scouring the Internet for wayward animals, the people in my life showed outward concern. Not for me, but for the poor, helpless creature that would depend upon me for survival. A friend of mine (in jest, I’m sure) had the nuts to say, “Don’t you think even the least desirable animal has a better chance of survival in a shelter than with you? Maybe you should work on keeping your Xeriscaped side yard alive before adopting a pet'they need water, food and a great deal of attention.
I ignored his apprehensiveness, let his not-so-veiled dig at my irresponsibility slide, and vetted my choices to canine or feline.
I won’t add to the endless thread running through the annals of history by comparing dogs to cats; dogs as man’s best friend and cats as somewhat satanic. But let’s face facts. If your life is in jeopardy, a dog will at least lay its head on your chest or back (depending on the situation), lick your face and gesture toward its food bowl while you shuffle off this mortal coil. A cat will use its walnut-size but extremely deft brain to determine how best to ingest your liver'post- or pre-mortem. I’m not going out under a gaggle of cats vying for my sweet, abnormally large liver. A dog, though more dependent and less opportunistic than its counterpart, is my creature of choice.
I’d narrowed the potentials to a handful before enlisting the help of two died-in-the-fur dog lovers. Surely they would see flaws and dewclaws where I would not. In the adoptable running was Sheila, an Afghan-mix who could calculate the rate-of-return on a moderately high-risk investment by sniffing your butt. An effeminate and jittery standard poodle-mix named Tomahawk could recite Yeats verbatim but was always spilling his triple-shot espresso like Berryman spilled his poetry over a bridge'too dramatic for this simple lad.
That left Cooper. Within moments, Cooper received the nod of approval from my dog-hugger friends. I knelt beside his cage for a better look. He was mellow, self-assured, handsome, perfectly sized and really, really mellow.
“Um, what’s wrong with this dog?” I thought as I opened his cage to pet his languid body. Turns out Cooper’s an Austrian Narcoleptic Shepard-mix who suffers from separation anxiety and seasonal depression'a very rare and special breed.
“He’s perfect'where do I sign?” I asked the CAWS (Community Animal Welfare Society) volunteer. In no time, Cooper and I were heading back to my place to settle in.
We’ve been together about a month now. I’ve replaced bar time with watching Cooper sleep on my front porch'there’s truly something magical about sharing space with an animal, conscious or otherwise. I just wish the little poo-machine could learn to properly blend a margarita. Oh well.
Rick Smith is a freelance writer who lives in Salt Lake City.