After graduating college and securing my first job, it was time to get a dog – a canine companion years in the making.
But my idea of the perfect dog has shifted as the years went by. Originally, it was going to be a bloodhound, then an English bulldog. After that, it was going to be a beagle mix, then a border collie, Labrador mix.
His name would be Boone, for my alma mater, Appalachian State University, and he would wear a red bandana around his neck.
He would love water and play catch until the sun went down. I would take him hunting.
Previously, the closest I ever came to my own dog was when my father’s border collie, Callie, had a litter of puppies with a neighborhood lab. I wanted the chubby one, to be named my Augustus Gloop.
But that particular puppy would go to South Carolina with my grandmother and be named Buddy. Augustus was a much more fitting name for him in my 11-year-old mind (and still for my 22-year-old mind, too).
Because Callie was the smartest dog to cross my path and my brother Charlie’s lab mix, Zoey, was about the sweetest 65-pound lapdog the world has ever seen, I felt strengthened in my belief that a Lab-collie mix would be best.
The dog hunt begins
Border collie with Lab mixed in, male and free. That was my game plan, and my search began.
I heard online about three puppies that might fit the bill. But they were in the boonies south of Chapel Hill. And at 4 months, they were a little older than what I was looking for. And they were all female.
But the pictures online won me over. I drove the next morning to look at them.
When I got there, a chubby puppy with a Lab’s build walked around the corner of the house.
In the movie version of my life, she would come home with me, I would name her Augustine Gloop, and she would be the most perfect dog ever.
Then the puppy ran up to me, fell and rolled into my legs geysering like a fire hydrant.
Still, I liked the look of these puppies, and I chose the runt of the group.
I put her in a box, and we headed home. She had an accident in the box within minutes. After pulling over and cleaning her up as best I could, we headed home for her first of many, many, many baths.
This Craigslist puppy needed a name. Boone just didn’t seem the right choice for a girl. So in my infinite wisdom, I settled on Jessie (a name that’s so similar to that of Zoey that it caused all kinds of fun confusion in the following months).
Jessie is a quick learner, and she fits in well in our house. Yes, she will tear up anything leather if you leave her alone too long. (My cigar sheath with a couple of very nice cigars was a recent victim.) But she’s nowhere near the level of terror of Marley of book and movie fame.
And it turns out she wasn’t the runt of the litter; she is her size, about 26 pounds, because her mom was half beagle. Funny how that works out.
So, did I end up with Boone, the rough-and-tumble male dog I had dreamed about? Nope.
But did I find the perfect dog? Absolutely.
Matt Caulder is a police reporter.
Caulder: email@example.com or 919-829-4758