Yellow or Golden?

From January 1997

At the end of May, we bought a puppy. By mid-June, I was freelyadmitting that the purchase was easily the stupidest thing we ever did. This dog has had every parasite imaginable, Now I understand the expression "sick as a dog." And babies and puppies in the same household are not a good mix. Both are very high maintenance and I doubt it's possible to get them on the same schedule. Talk about sleep deprivation!

The whole idea of adopting this particular puppy originated when I went to ask my neighbors to sign an architectural review form in order to have our swingset approved. Kelli, my next-door neighbor, commented that they would need such a form before they built a fence.

Since they have no children, I asked why they wanted a fence. She said they were going to adopt a puppy soon. I told her our dog had died the previous winter and that we were also thinking about getting a new dog. One thing led to another and we conjured up the grand idea of buying pups from the same litter. Ed and Kelli had their hearts set on a yellow labrador.

When I returned home and told Mike about the conversation he agreed that it was a great idea and said that he, too, had always wanted a yellow lab. I was a little disappointed because I'd always wanted a golden retriever but I figured I was outvoted so I said nothing.

Mike and I took the kids and spent a weekend visiting kennels. We called our friend the vet several times and asked all the important questions. We found an excellent breeder with an impressive list of references. This was to be a thoroughly researched, carefully considered purchase.

Memorial Day evening, we went with Ed and Kelli to pick our puppy. We told the children how important this choice was and how this dog would be a member of our family for a long time. We told them that if they had any concern. or questions to speak up. I briefly entertained the thought of suggesting that we look at golden retrievers but I figured that we were too far afield in this process to turn back.

He picked out an absolutely adorable puppy (did you ever notice how golden retrievers and yellow labs look very similar as pups?) and we considered names all the way home. That night, my five-year-old insisted on sleeping on the kitchen floor right next to "Seamus" so that he wouldn't miss his mother so much. The dog was quickly a part of the family.

Six weeks and several hundred dollars at Petsmart and the vet later, we went to visit friends who have a golden retriever. We were hoping that Seamus would enjoy playing with Barley. On the way home, I commented to my husband that Barley was really a beautiful dog.

"Yeah, "he replied, "I've always wanted a golden retriever."

"What?!" I exclaimed, "You said you wanted a yellow lab!"

"I know, I thought that the name for a dog like Barley was a ‘yellow labrador retriever’ You know, yellow-golden, golden, yellow. They're both retrievers."

"You've got to be kidding. You saw Seamus’ parents at the breeder. You knew he wasn't going to look like Barley."

"I know, " my dear husband replied, "but by that time we were really into the whole thing and I knew you wanted a yellow lab and I didn't want to disappoint you."

Ever so quietly, I said, "I have always, always wanted a golden retriever."

Seamus has grown on me. He is a very sweet dog and he's wonderful with the children. It has been great fun to watch him play with his "brother" next door. In all, for the stupidest thing I've ever done, it has turned out well.

Mike and I have learned quite lesson in communication. We are not going to be as likely to assume we know what the other is thinking. We are going to ask more questions and we are going to speak our minds a little more freely. And when we are old and looking for a dog for our retirement, when we have no babies to wake us, no teething toys lying around, and no diapers to change, we are going to get a golden retriever.