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  • Writer's picturemaggiehsmith07

Kid Brother

For several months, Andrea’s been beating the “kid brother” drum. I’ve largely tuned this out. Then a friend hopped on the band wagon (thanks, Anne). Wrigley will be 8 in December and his face turned gray years ago. Part of me believes that kid brother is a plan to keep Andrea out of the loony bin when Wrigley, one day, inevitably dies. Not a bad idea – if only that worked. If only we could line up a solid back up plan for when a loved one dies. “Ah well. I’m going to miss that person but good thing I have this back up friend/spouse/parent/sibling.” Only, there are no short cuts that enable any of us to bypass the grieving process.

Last Sunday, Andrea and I stopped at CVS after a trip to Urgent Care for a rash on Andrea’s torso. We ran into a woman we’d worked with years before who began talking about how she missed her dog Buster and had learned of Shultz’s Guest House in Dedham, MA from a segment on Chronicle, a local show. Neither Andrea nor I had ever heard of Shultz’s but Andrea quickly looked it up on her phone once we’d got in our car. Of course, their page featured numerous, cute dogs in need of a home. In a moment of weakness, I said, “Sure. Fill out an application.” I was thinking back to the day prior when Wrigley tossed his toy elephant to a cat. That attempt to engage the cat in play went as well as you’d expect. On Tuesday, Andrea heard from Schultz’s and we had an appointment for the entire family (including Wrigley) to meet some dogs that Thursday evening. We’d expressed interest in a guy named Jeffrey and spent time with him that evening. “So – do you want to take him home tonight?” the volunteer asked. “Tonight?!” We asked in unison. “We’re approved?!” Andrea asked. “Well, yeah. We don’t have you in to meet and fall in love with a dog if you’re not approved.” Love?! We’ve only just met. “Or you can pick him up tomorrow. Saturday?” The volunteer added helpfully.

“Uh. What about next week?” I asked. “We can’t hold him that long. There’s a lot of interest in Jeffrey.”

“Sure. Can we have a few minutes?” I asked, thinking of our weekend plans which did not involve “kid brother” and our house which wasn’t puppy proofed for a 3-4 month old puppy.

The volunteer stepped out and we had a hasty family meeting. And then, a donation fee later, we were driving Jeffrey to Petco for some supplies. Andrea put him in the cart, as we’d done with Wrigley almost 8 years ago. Let me tell you – Jeffrey is no Wrigley. When Wrigley was a pup, he was so docile that I thought he was going to slip into a coma. Of course, my one and only prior dog had been a border collie. Border collies aren’t exactly first dog material but I was young and dumb. I think part of my reluctance was that most puppies are a lot of work. That and dog two in my starter marriage was the nail in that coffin, but that’s for another post. Andrea realized Jeffrey was no Wrigley when he hurled himself out of the cart to walk himself around the store. Andrea let out a little shriek but Jeffrey showed no signs of permanent damage. Because I expected the lunacy that ensues when you introduce a new family member into your home, I think I am taking the antics in stride. Today Andrea lamented that she was the only one in the house who didn’t get a nap. She did get a shower so I think she’s winning. Toddler dogs are tough. You hear yourself saying things like, "Stop making out with me! You just licked Wrigley's privates! What's in your mouth? NO!"

We tossed around different names for Jeffrey as that name did not quite fit his bumbling and unassuming self. As we walked Jeffrey around the neighborhood, he lit up in front of the most disheveled house in town so that gave me an inkling of his life which had begun in Tennessee. I gave Jeffrey a southern drawl and we renamed him Georgie because his twang sounds like that of Georgie on Young Sheldon. Wrigley’s a bit Sheldon-esque in general and specifically about Georgie. We’re hoping he helps show this little fool the ropes but Georgie begins obedience classes tomorrow. Wish us luck.

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