D is for Dogs…

In the immortal words of The Rolling Stones:

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need…

I wasn’t a dog person. Before 2002, I was a cat lady. My ex-husband was the dog person. He started working on me to get a dog in the early 90’s.

In 2000, we bought our house and the dog negotiations ramped up. I finally gave in and agreed to a Cocker Spaniel. He wanted a pit bull.

At the time, the idea of pit bulls scared me. I believed all the hype about how dangerous they are. No way I want a dog like that, I said. I want something small and fluffy and unobtrusive, I said. We had heated arguments and discussions. The divide was wide.

In 2002 I started the process to have gastric bypass surgery. My ex ramped up his efforts. He worked nights so he wanted a dog to protect me. I planned to start exercising and he wanted my walking companion to be a deterrent. Little and fluffy wouldn’t get the job done, he said. Cocker Spaniels won’t protect you, he said.

The divide was still wide.

In June 2002, he told me about a friend of a friend who had these really cool dogs. He played it perfectly…”I know it isn’t the kind of dog you want, Lis, but he and I are going to go over tomorrow so I can meet them”. I shrugged. Not. The. Dog. I. Want.

A week later, he convinced me to meet the breeders and the puppies – again played perfectly. He said that the people were really nice and he thought I would like them and wouldn’t it be great to make new friends – he didn’t push the dog angle.

We walk into the kennel area and there are eight 12-week old puppies tussling. Sure puppies are cute, I thought. Not. The. Dog. I. Want.

We visit. We talk. I meet the adult dogs. I meet some of the puppies. Not. The. Dog. I. Want.

And then…out walked Achilles. The pups’ dad. Achilles. I watched Keith work with him. Impressive. I watched Susan (who Achilles outweighed) work with him. Really impressive.

Two things happened and everything changed.

First, Achilles walked over, looked me up, down and all around, sat next to me and leaned. This was before my GBS, I weighed over 500lbs. I was, um, difficult to move.

When I didn’t move, he stood up, checked me out, repositioned himself and leaned…again. I didn’t move. Several times, different ways…I didn’t move. I could SEE his brain trying to wrap around my not moving. I could SEE how smart he was.

Then the puppies realized Daddy was in the yard. As puppies will, they beelined for Dad’s moving parts. I could SEE Achilles getting frustrated. The whole time, he watched Keith. Keith gently said to him “I am sorry, Bud. Puppy rules”. Achilles glared, and carefully lowered himself to the ground, making sure his moving parts were protected. He sighed in resignation. Achilles SIGHED, never taking his eyes off Keith – even as the puppies started climbing on him, tugging, chewing and being puppies.

The. Dog. I. Want.


I became a Cane Corso girl.

Forever changed.

A week later, Gandhi came home.

I often wonder what if? What if I had refused to see the possibility that what I needed was so completely different from what I thought I wanted? What if I had refused to allow for the possibility that I was wr-wro-wron…slightly less right? That is the day I learned…

Allow for the possibilities.

In life.

In business.

With dogs.


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  1. Susan Ortiz says

    What a beautiful tribute to our boy, Achilles, thank you, Melissa. And along with placing our puppy with you, who knew we would gain a lifelong friend. Achilles was probably the smartest, strongest, most intuitive, sweetest, gentlest dog I’ve ever known. If he hadn’t had fur and four legs I would have sworn he was human, and had he been, he would have been every woman’s perfect man. Talk about spoiled, he totally spoiled me, and became the bar with which every other dog is measured. Not fair, but it’s the truth.

    Speaking of truth, Keith and I were dating when he got Achilles, and I thought he was nuts for paying “X” for a d-o-g. After all, it was just a dog, right? Boy was I wrong, and boy did I learn what the differences were. So I, too, had to be open to the possibility that I had a whole lot more to learn about dogs. I”m so glad I did.

  2. The Dog Story I want!

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