Last week I went down to the local Animal Shelter to look at a dog. Alex had been down there volunteering, and came home with a tale of a nice puppy reputed to be a Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd mix.
We took him to an outside run and messed with him for about 20 minutes, then I had Alex call Bernie and tell him to come down and look at the dog, too. For having been in an animal shelter kennel for more than a week, he was remarkably mellow, and easily came to lean against my legs; he had a happy demeanor, and was willing to sit. His feet were enormous, though; plainly, even though he was a big puppy, he is going to be a much larger adult. I didn't really see any Shepherd in him, but the Lab was quite evident.
On a whim, Bernie dragged me off to an adoption event at German Shepherd Rescue of Modesto. We petted German Shepherds for about half an hour, big ones, puppies, in-betweens. We came home without a new dog.
The next evening, Alex and John had to go out of town, leaving us in charge of the girls. And of Eperis, who naturally slept in our bed with us because he believes that dogs do sleep in beds with people.
When I woke in the morning, Ep was already watching me, ready for a snuggle. Then I knew that the shelter dog was not for me. That huge puppy would require attention 24/7 for a long time, and I'm not willing to give up the interaction I have with Ep.
The other thing that I realized, thinking about the dogs I'd looked at over the weekend, was that all the German Shepherds we petted didn't really speak to us: they were all looking for their foster-owners. All looking for someone else. And the part-Lab? He wasn't looking for us, he was looking for anybody.
I don't know if I'll find another companion dog for me in my life or not. Howie would be a hard act to follow. For the time being, Ep fills in as best he can, at my heels in the kitchen if he hears me get out the cutting board or opening the wrapper of a loaf of bread, greeting me in the mornings with many kisses, staring intensely into my eyes with optimism and good nature.
I'm content for now.