WE GOT A BEIGNET

Our family grew a little bit the other week. 

I still find it hilarious that there’s a living thing in this world with the name Beignet Lazaro.

I brought home our newest addition on Thursday, a one year old, sixty pound dog. She’s a retriever mix, probably with some lab and perhaps either spaniel or terrier mixed in there.

She’s definitely a puppy and way full of puppy energy. It’s a good thing I currently have a really flexible schedule because she’s the kind of girl that can’t get enough of playtime. Aside from having a copious amount of energy to have to manage, though, she’s overall been a really sweet dog. I got her from the shelter, where she was turned in as a stray. It’s anyone’s guess as to where she lived beforehand, but she seems to have been taught some basic manners.

When I first met her at the shelter, she seemed to be able to recognize the generic commands like sit and come, and did a really good job of paying attention to us as visitors. She also seemed to know that she was supposed to wait until she was outside to go potty. So all that suggested that she was going to be very teachable.

So far my assumptions have been proven correct. In a matter of a few days she got quite accustomed to living in our apartment. She’s figured out how to wait for the right time to go to the bathroom and for the most part she gets that the couch and the kitchen are off-limits. She has yet to really ruin anything and she’s only had a couple of accidents, which are sort of to be expected when getting used to a new environment.

Even though it’s tough for her to hold back her energy sometimes, she is most definitely a sweetheart. She’ll often just start smiling at you for no reason, which is likely the most adorable thing that she does. She doesn’t have any issues with barking except for when other dogs get her riled up, and she hasn’t shown a single sign of aggression, even when having to deal with me carrying her into new places she’s a bit afraid to go to.

Speaking of her fears, we’re most proud of how in a matter of a couple of days she managed to mostly get over her fear of the staircase. I have my friend Jesse to thank for helping her learn.

All in all, it’s taken less than a week for Beignet to win us over, and I know we got a winner.

•••

I’ve wanted a dog for… well pretty much my whole life. And I’ve had dogs before, in odd circumstances.

When I was six or seven, my mom adopted us a white lab named Brandy. I honestly don’t remember very much about Brandy, other than sitting in the living room and drawing pictures of her the first day that she arrived. She had a bit of a shedding problem, as many labs do, and my mom wasn’t exactly fond of that. The bigger issue, though, was that she had a barking problem and the neighbors really didn’t like that. We ended up having to surrender her in about a week.

Then when I was nine until I was thirteen, we had a shih tzu. Yeah, a very frou frou breed, which doesn’t seem at all like the kind of dog I’d be into. Truth is, I’m not the biggest fan of the small, happy, lap dogs, but this one was smart and obedient, and a family friend owned him and had to give him up. So we adopted him.

My stepdad was also not into frou frou dog breeds, which meant that this dog had the weirdest existence for a shih tzu. My stepdad grew up on a wide patch of land raising livestock, and believed that dogs should live outdoors, be rough and tumble, and have plenty of room to roam. I don’t disagree, except in the case of a shih tzu, because there’s no way those things were evolved for anything other than being spoiled and coddled. Anyways, he shaved most of the hair off of that dog and had him live out in the backyard. To that dog’s credit, he adapted quite nicely the the outdoor life. Especially for a dog named Put-Put.

Put-Put ran away after being given a bath one day. He had his collar off, and with how small he was he could easily slip through a small opening in the garage. Nobody knows where he ended up. He had a good sense of direction which leads me to believe somebody picked him up before he could make it back home. 

My stepdad could never be convinced that our suburban townhouse would be enough to accommodate a dog, and so I spent a long time after that wanting one. If you know a bit about my life over the past few years you’ll know I’ve moved around way too much for a dog the past few years. Until now.

Deanna and I had been actively looking for a dog for about a month. My favorite breeds tend to be the massive mountain dog type. Great Pyrenees are my favorites. Unfortunately, it’s tough to convince apartment landlords that dogs as massive as those should be fair game. (Rough, right? After all, they tend to just nap in a corner. It’s the little guys who get yippy!) Anyways, Deanna’s preference was on the other end of the spectrum- a corgi. We realized that a Samoyed might be a happy medium, but we had trouble finding somewhere to adopt one that wouldn’t be a breeder we couldn’t afford.

Thus began our hunt. We went to a local animal shelter a few weeks ago and found a handsome husky, with mismatched eyes. We were interested, and even took him out into the yard to play. The dog turned out to be in his own world. It’s no surprise when dogs are a little spaced out, but this dog was really, really spaced out. They say that sometimes when you’re looking to adopt a dog, you see one, and you just know that you’ve found the one. It’s weirdly like dating in that way and it just didn’t happen with that guy.

We spread out our search. I sent emails to Portland and I looked up shelters and adoption agencies as far away as Seattle, Bellingham, and Eureka.

On one weekend, we paid another visit to a shelter here in town and that was when we discovered our girl. The shelter had dubbed her Zucchini and that day happened to be the same day she was brought in. We were told she wouldn’t be available until the weekend. Oregon placed a mandatory three day hold for strays to be reclaimed. She was found in Junction City, though, so we thought our chances might be pretty good.

We were right and the following week, on Tuesday evening, we got a green light. The thing is, the adoptions were first come first serve. I wasn’t sure how early people showed up to these things, but since I have plenty of time off these days, I figured I had the upper hand. I showed up at 3:30 in the morning to stake things out. My Black Friday approach paid off and at the end of the day, the dog was ours.

Adopting Beignet has been a good deal of work. At the same time, it is some of the most rewarding work I could imagine getting myself into. I get to see the process of her learning… gradually becoming a better dog to go on walks with, learning when it’s time for bed, and picking up on my cues of when it’s time for play or time to chill out because I need to work on something. She’s the kind of who is so lively, you can see her thought process play out right on her face.

I have a friend who recently decided he might be ready to become a dad. He mentioned that since getting married, his home had started to become this whole little world in which he was centered, and that he felt ready to add more life into that.

In no way is adopting a dog anywhere near close to that level, but some of the sentiments do run parallel. I’ve never been much of a homebody, but since getting married I understand that home is more than a place where I keep all my stuff and sleep at night. It’s a whole little world and it’s when I’m at home that I feel the most connected to all the stuff closest and most valuable to me. It’s something I don’t know if I would have ever been able to explain to myself beforehand.

Getting Beignet so far has required me to pay more attention to things going on at home. Like a toddler, she can’t really be trusted to be left all on her own for too long, and when you’re hanging out in the living room and notice she’s gone missing, you have to anticipate a worst case scenario. Still, I realize the challenge of training her is bonding us and is a challenge that’s going to pay off big time. I also know that all this work redirects more and more of my energy, attention, and time at home.

Adopting a dog is a lot of work, but it adds so much color to your life. Of all the different things Deanna and I hoped to accomplish shortly after marriage, this is one likely to have the most long term impact on our lives, and we’re happy with it. One of the advantages to getting a dog so young is that she’s with us for the long haul.We’re glad it’s Beignet. She’s a great one.

Philippe Lazaro2016