Koops and I had been happily bebopping along, a mellow duo with no plans and no desire to rock our quiet little boat.
Not that I hadn’t been tempted. As I’ve previously noted, my Facebook feed offers up an average of 12 adoptable dogs on a slow day, and a few furry faces have captured my attention over the years. Not to mention my sister is like the Octomom of strays — seriously, the girl can’t stop at a Rite Aid without picking up a homeless mutt, which as you might recall is how my Koopa came into my life seven years ago.
But long hours at the office, a tiny one-bedroom apartment and my affinity for a 14-hour-night’s sleep kept in check any passing impulse I might have had to get Koopa a sibling.
Turns out, there was a reason for that — I hadn’t yet met Kollee.
Not to get all Peter Gabriel, but the moment I met that lanky, mocha-colored furbaby with ears so tall she looked like she might tip over, it was love at first sight. There was something about the way her shiny amber eyes lit up when she studied me, as if she already knew me, knew us, knew that here was the resolution of all the fruitless searches... No, wait ... sorry. Yeah, that is in fact Peter Gabriel. So let’s move on before I’m standing outside my own front door holding an iPod above my head.
A few weeks after Kollee found herself behind bars at the Calhoun County Animal Control Center, Semper Fi Rescue took one look at that gorgeous face and sprung her and brought her home where in no time she became the happy, healthy, gorgeous life of the rescue party.
One afternoon not long after that, while writing a story on Alabama’s shelter dogs, I found myself in the enormous fenced-in yard at Semper Fi surrounded by a racing, leaping, rolling blur of fur. Every few moments, one of the dozen or so dogs would drop everything and dart over to where I was seated to welcome me with dog kisses of varying degrees of enthusiasm.
On a not unrelated note, I’m now of the opinion that a journalist can’t call herself a true professional until she has conducted an interview through a continuous blitz of dog kisses — I’m also of the opinion that was pretty much the best day of work ever.
Of course, I’ve always found dog kisses to be a lot like pizza — even when they’re bad, they’re still good. I mean we’re talking about an unmitigated display of unconditional love. Drool or no drool, I’ll take it, you know? And this was on par with a stuffed crust Pepperoni Lovers when the delivery guy packs the ranch dipping sauce somewhere other than down inside the piping-hot pizza box — that good.
With one paw pressed against my cheek, the other thrown around my neck, Kollee showered this misguided girl who wasn’t looking for another dog with the sweetest doggie kisses to come along since a big, black mutt named Koopie.
And just like that, Koopa got a little sister.
A month later, my spoiled rotten only child has fallen easily into the role of big brother — sometimes indulgent, sometimes bossy, with the occasional bout of middle-child syndrome. And Kollee (rhymes with Holly, NOT Holy, as seems to be the popular consensus) has made herself right at home in a home that didn’t know it had a Kollee-shaped hole to fill.
Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
• Yes, the good habits I’ve taken for granted in Koopa all these years (i.e. his bionic bladder that never falters, not even when I slip into a 22-hour coma after finally turning in my master’s thesis) eventually will rub off on the little one (she’s up to 10 hours and if you’d been there for the first 8 a.m. potty break, you’d call it progress, too).
• Likewise, a few bad puppy habits you’re hoping to break (like Kollee’s insistence on barking at passing cars, a strong breeze, the stuffed Saint Bernard from Switzerland sitting on my bookcase) occasionally will rub off on big brother (this is particularly fun in the middle of a crowded street fest when the recipient of their combined fervor is a cherub-faced kindergartener dressed as Tinker Bell… That my two hell raisers were themselves dressed as a pirate and a fairy princess made the whole scene just that much more absurd).
• Yes, Kollee’s boundless energy and unflagging pep will at some point drive her brother up a wall — that’s what kid sisters do. That’s also where an afternoon at Piper’s Playhouse comes in handy, so I’ve learned to watch for signs of Koopa wall-climbing. Hiding under the coffee table is a big one. Or in the closet. Or behind the floor-length blinds. Or my favorite though arguably the least effective option, curled up on mom’s lap — she saw right through that one.
• However, Koopa is not too mature or too sensible to get a kick out of taking his sister’s toy, or wrestling her to the ground, or no doubt dipping her pretty little bat ears in an inkwell had he access to such a thing.
• And most importantly, yes, there is something scarier than boisterous sibling rivalry — the deafening silence of discreet collaboration. Trust me, if big brother and little sister are not seeking your undivided attention, it’s time to give them your undivided attention.
A smart, stylish way to S.A.V.E.
Attention furmoms and fashionistas: On Thursday, Nov. 21, make plans to stop by Sarah Cavender Metalworks in Oxford for the third annual open house to benefit S.A.V.E. The retail studio shop will be open to the public offering the red-carpet designer’s handcrafted jewelry and accessories at wholesale prices, and 25 percent of every purchase goes towards ending the overpopulation of unwanted and abandoned pets in Calhoun County.
Leigh Cummings of Melba’s Market (you may remember seeing her adorable dog pillows and wall hangings at PetFest) will be on hand selling pet portraits, also donating 25 percent of sales to S.A.V.E.
And new this year is the chance to win an original Sarah Cavendar creation. A $5 donation to S.A.V.E gets you entered into the drawing for this handcrafted metal handbag, which retails for $385.
Doors open at 10 a.m. and complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres will be served from 4-7 p.m. It should be a great opportunity to find fun, unique Christmas gifts while helping an exceptionally worthy cause.