--by Mike Murray
Pressure works its way up my right leg, settling and intensifying in my back. I instinctively try to flop to my left side in a vain attempt to relieve it. I wake, finally aware that my leg is pinned in place by the usual culprit: Janna.
It was during the summer of 2000 that the furry scamp came to live with us. We had lost Maggie (a shepherd mix) only a couple of months earlier. Because of that, Pam scheduled our traditional summer get-away at a place that didn't accept dogs -- the need having vanished.
Our vacation that year was special in that it was also planned as a commemoration of our 15th wedding anniversary. It now figured to be a less joyous occasion, to be sure, but I was still looking forward to celebrating the milestone with my "second wife." (She hates it when I call her that, the implication being that there might, one day, be a third?)
We knew that we would eventually adopt another dog, but we didn't want to rush things. We knew that no person or animal could ever take the place of one you've lost. Still, we casually perused the web sites of a few animal shelters. A photo and a description ("...very sweet girl ...currently athletic and high-energy...") caught Pam's attention.
Something clicked for her, so we contacted foster Fran via the e-mail address listed. We arranged a visit. Well, you know how these things go. We fell in love with Jan from the get-go. As I knelt down to her, she rose up on her hind legs, draped her big, Rotty-mix paws over my shoulders, and slurped my face enthusiastically. How could I resist that?
In point of fact, Pam was way ahead of me on this one. While Jan won me over at our first meeting, Pam seemed to know things would work out even before that. She had taken to calling her Janna before our drive down to Fran and Steve's farm. Pam had already decided on a slight name alteration (based on a literary reference); she had already figured that there was a good chance we'd be taking her home.
Well, it's five years later and we're now preparing for a trip that will commemorate our 20th (Pam's lately taken to calling me her "first" husband, in delicious revenge). Janna will be coming along, as usual. We always have taken our mutts with us on vacations. Some people leave them with family or friends -- or with trusted kennels. Pam and I, we can't bear to be away from them for too long.
If you've got a suitable home and a hankering for companionship that exceeds your grandest expectations, I highly recommend a visit to your local animal shelter. Dogs, cats, and other wonderful companion animals anxiously await your arrival.
But be forewarned: if you let the little stinkers into your bed at night, they'll probably crowd you. Me, I wouldn't have it any other way.
Copyright © 20005 Michael F. Murray -- All rights reserved.