I park in the short driveway in front of the wire gate at a farmlet much like ours. It’s 1-1/2 hours southeast of us in the foothills of Mt. Rainier. Which is hidden in clouds as usual. The Bearded One and I are fifteen minutes early to pick up our new puppy.
Two tabby cats, the twins of our own Garfield, trot out from the house to meet us. Yay! Maybe the new puppy will get along with Garfield.
Soon a young ponytailed woman named Kayla comes out and greets us. We follow her around to the back of the house where I see the chickens and horse pasture. And there they are — 3 black, white, gray and brown 8-1/2 week old Beagle puppies, two girls and one boy. We’re here for the boy, who looks just like he does in the Craigslist ad.
They call him Lucky because his momma, a 5-year-old Beagle who stands nearby, had a difficult delivery and Lucky came by C-Section. Which was no doubt expensive and why I feel better about paying $350. It’s a lot of money, but also pretty much normal based on the looking we’ve been doing.
I cuddle him against my chest all the way home. He is a little pudgy because he was eating a lot of his sisters’ food as well as his own. His ears are velvet, his brown eyes impossibly engaging.
We briefly consider keeping the name Lucky, but decide on Arly, after the Bearded One’s paternal grandfather
who was an Oklahoma farmer and potash miner.
At home, we put Arly in the backyard and the goats run up the hill like a mountain lion has leaped the fence. All five hens are up on their toes and close behind the goats.
Garfield is inside, in the kitchen. We hope this goes well.
Right off, Arly walks toward Garfield and puppy barks a huge hello. Garfield hisses. This is just defensive. He hisses again. I try to comfort Garfield, but he slinks to the stairs and zips up to the lone refuge of the second bedroom.
Now it’s Monday afternoon and Arly’s fourth day here. Garfield is not especially pleased with this new critter. The Bearded One and I sit together in the sun watching Arly race from grass blade to twig to dirt hole to my shoe.
He bunny hops after Ruby’s old Kong ball. His favorite toy, however, is also Garfield’s, the mouse-on-a-string-on-a-stick that the Bearded One made. If they both use it, it’ll mingle their scents.
I bring Garfield outside to enjoy the sun, and he sits under the house on the lattice wall and sulks warily. He watches Arly closely. Sometimes they are only 4 or 5 feet apart. This is good. He is sticking around.
* * *
“Getting a puppy is like catching the flu,” says the Bearded One, exhausted and sore from three straight nights of “sleeping with” the new pup. It’s only for the first 3 or 4 days.
“I thought you knew puppies,” I say, reminding him of his Alaska stories of raising and training sled dogs. “Yes,” he says and grins, “I tried to warn you.” We laugh. He’s right, though. I’m the one who wanted the little howler.
Getting a puppy reminds me of how much work babies are. Everything else goes by the wayside. I haven’t even marked out the last two days on the calendar.
The Bearded One and I are both bone-tired. Tonight Arly sleeps alone.
* * *
Early that evening Arly is passed out beside the Bearded One in the man cave, watching a football game.
Garfield arises upstairs and stretches a huge cat stretch. He pointedly catches my eye. Watch this. He saunters unconcerned down the stairs and turns into the den. Light as a feather he leaps up onto the Bearded One’s leg, maybe a foot from Arly. He stares calmly down at the sleeping pup, turns away oh-so-casually and hops back down to the floor. Welcome to the farmlet.