Despite the Cowboy and the three cats, I still maintain that my German shepherd, Tess, is my longest, most successful relationship to date. She is the love of my life, second only to the lovable, blue-point Himalayan I had as a teenager. Tess might have her flaws - the bad breath, her aggression towards male dogs, her rampant infidelity - but I still very biasedly believe her to be the best dog ever to walk the Earth.
I actually found Tess on petfinder.com. I had just purchased my house and was beginning what I thought the long quest to find the perfect dog, now that I had a backyard to keep her in. In the past, as with all burn out crushes, I'd always rushed in, seduced by a pair of big brown eyes and floppy ears and wet nose. I love animals and I love pets. My dogs in the past were shelter mutts, lovable in their own way, but secretly what I really have always wanted is a female German shepherd. They have always been my favorite breed. The closest I ever came to having what I wanted was the shepherd/collie mix that my mother and I rescued from the animal shelter when I was seventeen. He happened to be a male, and he was a great dog, but he was my mother's dog.
My other favorite breed is the Papillion, another dog I hope one day to own, but they seem to be a bit harder to come by.
Having just bought a house, I was ready to start looking for a dog, but not quite ready yet to rush to the shelter and grab the first homeless pity case I ran across. This time I was determined to look, research, and get exactly what I wanted. I had just broken up with my ex-boyfriend and I wanted the perfect dog to make up for the subpar, not-so-perfect ex-boyfriend.
I found Tess the second day I searched petfinder.com She was listed at the Casper Humane Society as a one-year-old female purebred German shepherd. I was going out of town in a week for a doctor's appointment, I was absolutely not prepared to bring a dog home yet, let alone one two hours away that I couldn't even go visit, but I called the Casper Humane Society to inquire about the dog. They told me that someone had already called interested in her and they were fairly certain they wanted to adopt her. They had her spaying surgery scheduled and when that was done she would be ready to go home with her new family. They said they could put my name on the list - I would be number 2 - just in case this family decided not to adopt her.
"But," the shelter employee assured me, "They aren't going to change their minds. They are definitely going to take her."
"Okay," I said. "That's no problem. I just wanted to call and see about her."
"Do you still want us to call you in case the adoption falls through?"
"Yeah, sure. Give me a call if something changes."
"Okay, we have your name on the list. But nothing will change."
The next afternoon there was a voicemail from the Casper Humane Society on my phone telling me that if I was still interested in the German shepherd, the adoption had fallen through and I was the second name on the list. Of course I called them and made an appointment to drive down that Saturday and check her out. I still wasn't sure at that point if it was a good idea to bring a dog home so soon - I had planned on spending several months finding the perfect dog - but I thought I should at least go check this dog out. The fact that her "guaranteed adoption" fell through worried me, but how much trouble could a dog be?
I drove down that Saturday to check her out. She was a Tazmanian devil in her kennel, up on her hind legs, barking in a high-pitched, spoiled, crazy bark. She was a little sable, smaller than I expected, and just beautiful. Her conformation was perfect and she had the big brown eyes and small pointed muzzle that always makes me fall for a dog. I wanted to see her out of her kennel so the shelter employee (who was not bad looking himself) put a leash on her so we could take her into a different room.
Talk about not leash-trained! She jumped up on the employee, twirled around on the lead like a dancer, got herself all tangled up and nearly tripped and fell flat on her face. She bounded ahead and got pulled up short by the lead, choking herself. Then she tried to bound back to the employee to give herself slack only to run into his legs. They both nearly went down.
In the separate room, she raced in circles and sniffed everything. The shelter employee wasted no time. "So you want her?"
I asked why the first adoption had fallen through and why she was surrendered in the first place. Apparently the family who had originally bought her as a puppy from a breeder had surrendered her to the shelter because she was too active and dug in the yard. They had made a deal with their neighbors to take her off their hands but the neighbors were on vacation and the family just couldn't keep her anymore. Then when the neighbors returned from their vacation, they came to the shelter to adopt her. They decided they didn't want her when they found out she was scheduled to be spayed before they could take her home. They'd wanted to breed her and of course the Human Society does not allow adoptions for breeding.
Against my better judgment - the trip I had scheduled just a day after I brought Tess home, her extremely high energy, and absolutely zero training - I agreed to the adoption. For the first four months I wanted to kill her. Now I can't picture my life without her. She has come a long way from the day in the shelter with no leash skills, bad manners, and an alleged accusation of digging in the yard. Incidentally the only hole she ever dug in my yard was to bury a very large bone I'd bought her. Tess has stuck by me through four different boyfriends and five cats (three of which are still living, of course). The Cowboy has endured partially because he makes an effort with Tess and she loves him and has welcomed him in her pack.
Tess and I were fated to be together. As for love at first sight, well she reserved that for the Cowboy, but she's still all mine.