Sunday, May 06, 2007

Birthday Boy

It's Mitch's birthday.

He's four. Years.

If you knew him, you would be forgiven for wondering if it was years or months that he was celebrating, because maturity is not the name of the game where Mitch is concerned.

He is, shall we say, one of those dogs who has never lost touch with his inner puppy. He is as rambunctious and full of pep at four years as he was at four months.

He came home at the age of three months -- a serendipitous dog whom we were not expecting. After having lost three goldens (ages 14, 13, and 11) in the space of 9 months, we were not quite dogless (Gunnar was here. Gunnar was bereft) and we were looking for another rescue dog, preferably a golden.

We'd got Jake five years before through a golden retriever rescue program, and he was such a spectacular dog we thought we'd go that way again. Jake was Gunnar's special buddy and while we knew we couldn't replace Jake, we did want to try to find Gunnar a new brother he'd enjoy. Finding a golden close to his age (six) seemed a good idea.

But the golden retriever rescue program didn't have any dogs they thought -- or we thought -- were suitable. So I rang the breeder from whom we got our first golden. He hadn't been a puppy, either, when we got him. He'd needed a new home at age three. So we were quite equipped to deal with older dogs (after all, Jake had been eight). We weren't looking for a puppy. We'd been there, done that with Gunnar.

There seemed a chance of a dog in Minnesota, so I went to visit my friend Anne Frasier for the weekend, hoping to meet the dog. But while Anne and I had a good time we never managed to connect with the golden-in-need-of-a-home, and as I was leaving, dogless, Anne said, "We need to find you a dog. I feel guilty that we didn't find you a dog." (Yes, Anne, you really said that).

And I said, "No hurry. The right dog will come along. Maybe he'll find us."

The next morning he did.

A breeder in Minnesota (!) who was the daughter of a breeder in Iowa, couldn't keep the dog she'd intended to keep out of her most recent litter. She called her mother, her mother talked to a friend, the friend talked to her vet. Her vet is our vet. He called us. Would we be interested in a three month old golden retriever puppy?

Puppy? It took about a minute. Maybe less. There is something about a dog that finds you that means he's supposed to be your dog. Yes, we said. We would.

It turned out he was living only a few miles from us. It turned out that the 'friend' was someone we already knew. She didn't know we were looking for a dog, but when she found out, she called the breeder and told her that if we took him, he'd have a wonderful home. (Thanks, Peg!)

We went to see him half an hour later. He was tiny. He still isn't that big a dog. Leggy, yes, bouncy, yes. But he still looks like a teenager even now. At 3 months he looked slightly bigger than one of those balls of fluff that goldens are when they are babies. He was just getting interested in exploring. He was just ready for a new home, a big brother, the wide wide world.

He came home with us that afternoon.

Gunnar was appalled. And at the same time, he was interested in what this strange little four-footed creature would do. The strange little four-footed creature adored Gunnar. He followed Gunnar everywhere. Gunnar rolled his eyes, and put up with it.

He still puts up with it. His 'little' brother is now a bit taller than he is, though no heavier. His 'little' brother still follows him around, does what Gunnar does, even to the point of out-bouncing Gunnar when they are getting ready to go for a walk. This is something we should not have allowed him to learn. Who knew?

He was called Mitch when we got him. But he was a purebred who needed to be registered. His registration name is Jake's Mitchell McAllister, because we wouldn't have him if it hadn't been for Jake. He's a wonderful dog, sweet-natured and forever happy to snuggle and be friends. He will chase balls and bring them back for hours. He will run and jump and find every puddle for miles.

He had a literary bent and wrote two books before he was six months old (then he got a life and stopped writing all together). But The Excellent Adventures of Mitchell McAllister and The Further Adventures of Mitchell McAllister have been distributed on three continents. He says
he may write his memoirs one day, but right now he's too busy having fun.

We're having fun, too. And our lives are definitely richer for Mitch being part of them.

Happy birthday, Mitch!


Blogger Kate Walker said...

Happy Happy Birthday Mitch my almost 'twin' birthday boy! You had huge paws to fill - you see, I knew and adored Jake. I met him when I came to visit. And he was some dog. So if you have filled the Jake shaped hole in Anne's life then you must be some dog too.

But are you really FOUR?? It's more than time I came to meet you

And thank you for the first editions of The Excellent Adventures of Mitchell McAllister and The Further Adventures of Mitchell McAllister
Love and birthday ear rubs
Kate (whose word verification was dgpaw - now how close is that to those dog paws of yours?)

Say hi to lovely Gunnar and Micah for me. And your Mom of course

07 May, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kate,

Dgpaw? Wow! I've got four of 'em. I hope you come and see me soon. We could have a lot of fun. Hope you have a happy birthday too!


07 May, 2007  
Blogger Christa said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

07 May, 2007  
Blogger Christa said...

Happy Birthday Mitch

07 May, 2007  
Anonymous anne frasier said...

4 years??? i can't believe it's been 4 years!!

happy birthday, mitch!!!

09 May, 2007  
Blogger Anne McAllister said...

Yep, 4 years, Anne. Pretty amazing, isn't it? You'll have to come visit him. He'd love to make you feel at home.

09 May, 2007  

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