For our prompt of “Puppy” today, I’d like to share this little sketch and introduce you to the newest member of our family. This is Elliott, and he’s what happens when two big-hearted guys go to a shelter one day to “just have a look.” After losing our Phineas, Philippe and I decided we’d simply start seeing what others dogs might be out there looking for a good home. I’m not entirely sure why we didn’t just assume we’d be coming home with a new dog, but in our minds it was all just a bit of practical reconnaissance. The very idea that we would end up with a three month old puppy was not something we’d thoroughly discussed, but it’s entirely impossible to control that exact moment when one falls in love. This little mixed breed mutt’s picture showed up on the shelter’s site one early evening while we were having sushi at home. We had only an hour before the shelter was closing for the day and Philippe and I both looked at each other without saying a word, gobbled our sushi, and headed out the door to meet him.
I’d called on a couple of dogs previously to learn more, and neither seemed like they would be a good fit. One was an abandoned foster dog who needed another dog in the home, so we weren’t allowed to even make an appointment. But the foster coordinator liked us and wanted to help us, so she was the one who sent me the email that day telling me there was a transfer coming from Texas and that a new litter of puppies would be arriving. I casually checked the site later after work, and clicked through all of the puppy photos. All puppies are adorable, but it was the last photo that caught my eye in a way that I couldn’t quite articulate. I had all of the photos open on my computer in separate tabs when Philippe came downstairs, and then moved one particular photo to the end, and showed him last. The big reveal worked, as the next thing I knew, we were rushing to the car.
There was an indescribable electric feeling that I felt as I was driving to the shelter. I had no idea what was going to happen next, but the idea of what might happen was swirling through my mind with a strange anxious joy. This little face that appeared that night was one we both immediately wanted to see in person. The instant agreement alone made rushing out before dinner was finished seem like the perfectly sensible thing to do next. Often in life, it’s not what will happen if you actually do something that’s worrisome, but the nagging regret you could feel if you don’t go ahead and simply do it.
After signing in, we were taken back to view all of the puppies, who had very recently arrived from a small town outside of Houston. It was quite a mixed bag of a litter. Fun fact, a female dog can have as many different fathers for her puppies that bred with her while she was in heat. They estimated that this litter had four to five different dads. Needless to say, they were all adorable, but the moment we arrived, one little dog moved right to the front and pushed his siblings away to get our undivided attention. Other people came in after us, but this particular puppy didn’t look at them. I guess he’d made his choice, and in my heart, I knew we were about to make ours.
But first, we had to go to the meet and greet room and wait for them to bring him to us. I’m sure it didn’t take long, but it seemed like hours before they returned with him. We were left alone, nervously wondering about what will happen next. Philippe had forgotten his more fashionable mask and was wearing a blue surgical mask. He looked like a dad in that moment, eagerly waiting to meet and hold his baby for the first time. But, unlike with a human baby, we had a choice to make. What if this wasn’t a good fit? Before we could wonder or worry further, the volunteer arrived and set an adorable black and tan puppy on the floor in front of us. He bounded over to me to say hello and then off to meet Philippe.
I loved the spotted paws, eyebrow dots, and black and white speckled fur around his neck. But, the sheer joy and happiness rippling across every inch of his impossibly soft fur was ultimately what won my heart. I held up a treat and said, “Sit!” even though he didn’t know what that command was yet. He stopped playing, looked at me, cocked his head, and promptly sat. The volunteer made a shocked sound and said, “Oh wow, he’s a smart dog!” Brains and beauty? Be still my heart! “There isn’t time to complete the adoption today, but would you want to put a hold on him and finish the adoption tomorrow?” I looked at Philippe, who I could tell was grinning like a school boy, even if I couldn’t see his mouth. The sparkle in his eye was all I needed to see. I turned back to her and said, “Yes, I think we would.”
We left the shelter in a jubilant fog of emotion, rambling on to each other about what we had just done and what on earth we’re supposed to do next. I drove to a nearby pet store that was just about to close and we bought whatever it was we thought one might get for a new puppy. When we got home, we rolled up the carpet in the living room and set up a gated area lined with pee pads and added some toys. It was all just potential at that point, but we still had to get a full night’s sleep somehow.
The next day was impossibly long at work while we awaited our 4pm adoption appointment. Suddenly, however, that was all over and we were handed a puppy in a blanket and sent out the door. Philippe had been thinking of names and liked the name Elliott, preferring two “t’s” rather than the French version because he liked the visual symmetry. I held the little puppy in my lap on the way home and called him by his new name. He whimpered his approval, cuddled up close to me, and promptly went to sleep.
We arrived home and placed him in his new playpen. Elliott looked around at everything, but didn’t seem to like the fact that he was separated from us. I told him it was temporary until he learned to go outside. He seemed to understand what I was saying, or at least truly wanting to understand. That connection and his incredible smarts made the next steps sail past. He was crate trained in less than 30 minutes and house trained in just a handful of days. Our elaborate gated setup was never really required and was quickly torn down, and the living room restored.
Now comes the fun part of watching him grow up way too quickly and become whatever size his wild cocktail of breeds decides he’s ultimately meant to be. The vet’s guess is currently around 53 pounds. But, it’s all just a best guess. What I know for sure is that each day I’m falling deeper and deeper in love. And, when I look into those little Disney eyes, I see that love mirrored in Elliot as well. I sketched him with his bear Rupert, which was the first toy we gave him. He sleeps with it each night, and takes his frustrations out on poor Rupert when he feels that night came far too quickly.
And, Philippe and I are going to take him to school and teach him everything we can to keep his amazing mind sharp and active. What we didn’t expect were all of the things he’s already been teaching us. All of the wonder in the world that we thought we noticed, but still managed to take for granted. All from this one little puppy who dreams about nothing more than what the amazing next day will bring. We’ve got a lot to learn, little one, but right now, it’s time to go to sleep and dream of all of the incredible adventures that await us tomorrow. And your two dads will be with you to enjoy each and every unforgettable moment along the way. Welcome home, Elliott.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Yellow Ochre, Opus (Vivid Pink), Terra Cotta, Cobalt Turquoise, and Ultramarine (Green Shade). ZIG Cartoonist Mangaka Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!