A year ago, after a summer of mourning the loss of our dog, Pudge, I said the magic words my stepchildren had been waiting for.
“You know,” I told my wife, “I think it might be time to think about getting another dog.”‘
At least, I’m sure I said “think about,” not “run out and buy.”
That part, apparently, was lost in translation.
My wife, who had cautioned the kids to stop hounding me (pun intended) about getting another dog, let word slip that I was not actively mourning any longer.
And the full-court press began.
“This is the kind of dog I think we should get,” one or the other of my stepchildren said, nearly constantly, over the next few days, showing me an internet image of one cute puppy or another.
At one point, I thought I had the family convinced that a nice English pointer would be a great addition to the family … eventually. At another, I decided that a monstrous Saint Bernard would fit into our small home perfectly … some day.
As it turned out, the choice wasn’t mine to make. Neither was the timetable.
And within days, we were the proud (if, in my case, somewhat surprised) new owners of an adorable puppy that we named Genny.
Genny is half greater Swiss mountain dog, half black lab, and we figured she’d love tromping around outdoors.
And after seeing her webbed paws, we were certain that she’d love to swim.
Alas, we almost didn’t get the chance to introduce her to water this summer.
Things have been pretty hectic around the house, and the few times we headed to the lake, Genny didn’t get to go.
That had to change.
Over the weekend, it did. We loaded the dog into the car and headed to camp.
Until then, Genny was a city dog — or as close to it as a Maine pooch can get.
But when we turned onto the camp road, she seemed to enjoy the new wilderness smells that surrounded her. She perched proudly on the back seat of the car, thrust her nose out the window, and snuffled energetically.
At the lake, though, things didn’t start out so auspiciously.
That big wet thing? The lake? She couldn’t really figure it out at first.
In fact, it took some coaxing to get her to walk down the stairs to the dock. And it took a spoonful of peanut butter to convince her that hopping off the dock onto the sand was a good idea.
And then, she decided that the small waves were not to be trusted. Each time a small ripple washed ashore, she ran away from it.
After several minutes, she progressed to the “if I eat all these waves, they won’t hurt me” mode.
Eventually, she waded.
“Maybe she’s not going to be a water dog,” I thought. “Or maybe it will just take some time.”
As it turned out, all it really took was some taunting from one low-flying bird.
Let me make one thing clear: Genny knows birds. She sees them on her daily walks, and doesn’t pay much attention. Same with squirrels. She loves cats, and wants to play with every dog she sees, but birds? Not interested.
This time, she was.
The bird zoomed overhead, heading for open water, and Genny vaulted after it.
Three lunges later, she was over her head, and dog-paddling awkwardly.
Luckily, we had her on a long rope, and were able to reel her back to shore.
Sheepishly, she shook off the excess water and regrouped.
Before long, she was pouncing on the waves, and running back and forth through the shallow water.
Did she swim again? Not really.
But we’re confident that she will, given a few more chances.
Those webbed paws aren’t there for nothing, after all.