The two puppies on the computer screen are both mutts, but Frankie,
the Bearded One says, is more of a mutt, which is good. And even though Buddy
is a gorgeous black and white mutt, he may have more Husky and Border Collie in him than our daughter and her new husband really want. These breeds both need tons of exercise and attention.
“She wants to know what ‘Heinz 57’ means,” I say and laugh as I read her response out loud and the Bearded One paces the floor behind me. This is the first real interest in dogs I’ve seen from him since Ruby died.
“Also the phrase ‘A+ acclimation’ needs explaining.” The Bearded One is the family dog expert, but he doesn’t ever type and is no fan of computers. And he uses strange steak sauce metaphors in his advice.
Ruby’s been dead two months now, and we haven’t exactly rushed our way toward getting another dog yet. Which is kind of surprising to me. The B.O. is a dog guy, but I’m in more of a hurry to get a puppy than he is. When we get another dog, it will be mainly his to train as I love dogs but Garfield is my main squeeze.
“Sorry,” he dictates in his lawyer voice, all business as I begin to type the response. “A+ acclimation means they’ve spent time with various humans and other puppies from a very early age.
Less growling at strange dogs. Less suspicious nature around strange kids in your house. We only know this about Buddy. It’s not a negative for Frankie, it’s just a positive for Buddy.”
The Bearded One wants to see the pups again before he continues.
Frankie is the Heinz 57, a seven-week-old lab, hound, and Australian Shepard mix. He’s over in Yakima, a two-and-a-half hour drive, one of a litter of nine pups in a shelter foster home. Buddy is a bit older, but he is local. The newlyweds have applied for both puppies. It’s surprisingly hard to get a good puppy. They get snatched up instantly.
“‘Heinz 57’ means a large number of different breeds have worked their way over four or five generations into this one puppy,” he says. “This is a big contrast to a pup whose genes contain nothing but one or two particular breeds over the last several decades. Certain breeds are famous for catching certain diseases. ‘Plain old mutts’ are generally more healthy.”
Outside the wind rustles the cedar next to the house and golden needles swirl down, carpeting the deck.
The Bearded One clears his throat. “Buddy is so gorgeous he could be on a dog food sack,” he says and I type.
“Having Husky in his blood is like having Border Collie — actually a bit more challenging. The feet say he’ll be big. I wonder what his current age is? All my instincts are good on Buddy. That doesn’t mean he’ll be an easy-going grown up.
“As per our phone talk, nobody in all of Alaska could tell what Husky pups were going to be desirable as grown-ups. If ‘easy-going’ is a high priority for you, Buddy having both Husky and Border Collie potential is a downside, but the Lab part is famous as a way to breed calm dogs. I like Buddy.
“Frankie is more puzzling to me. The upper jaw and how it fits into the skull are somehow disquieting. It makes me wonder about other breeds’ possible involvement. I like both the lab and the hound in his potential lineage, but there’s not much hound to see if it’s there. Nonetheless, of the two dogs, I’ve a sneaking suspicion this is the one I’d go for. This is a funky dog. The opposite of a pure bred. Where on Earth did such a tiny pup get that beard?”
I look closely at the picture of Frankie, and sure enough, he has quite a beard. This observation makes me laugh, and for the first time, I see a dog twinkle in the Bearded One’s eye as he says, “P.S. I’m getting all excited about this now.”
* * *
They adopted Frankie on Saturday, October 5, and renamed him Roger.