Birthday dog

Dietrich’s birthday is one week from today. On May 22, he will turn three. Today his vet sent him a birthday card, and after I mopped myself off the floor, I copied the link to Dietrich’s birthday e-card.

Well over a year ago the husband and I adopted a scrawny, timid, dull-colored Rottweiler from an area rescue. He looked a lot smaller in the pictures that were online and when I pulled up in front of the rescue after work and saw the husband standing on the sidewalk with a full-grown male Rott, my first thought was “No way, absolutely not.” He was scared of men, scared of bikes, scared of things coming up behind him, and scared of thunder. (We didn’t find these things out until after we brought him home.)

Before going to see any dogs at all–and Dietrich was the only one we went to meet in the end–the husband and I had researched what kind of dog would fit our lifestyle and personalities and we easily narrowed the search to area Rotts in need of furever homes.

We met Dietrich on a Friday night and came back for him on Saturday morning. His adoption fee of $185 had to be paid in cash and we needed a collar, leash, bowl, and food for him anyway. We hauled him home in the back seat of the Corolla, over which we had flung an old sheet, to our eternal relief. We soon noticed that Dietrich drools uncontrollably when he’s nervous or excited and what’s more nerve-wracking and exciting than being adopted?? He still drools when he’s excited but heck, so do I.

He was 63 lbs, all ribs and head. We immediately put him on a high-protein diet and he immediately rejected it out both ends. He walked ok on a leash and learned his name quickly, but his bursts of energy and his zoomies scared me at first. He started out as a jumper, but it was an easy behavior to break him of.

Within a few weeks, Dietrich was enrolled in obedience school and although the tiny dog owners looked askance at us (please, judge me and my Rott more obviously and I’ll say nothing about the fact that you can’t control your wiener dog), Dietrich was one of the only dogs to come when called, complete the obstacle course at the end of the “semester” and find his owner when I was hidden behind a wall. He was the only dog to have a “trick”–if you say “gentle” to him when offering him something, he’ll take it gingerly with his front teeth–to show off on graduation night.

His biggest flaw, once we got his diet worked out, was his gas. That’s still a flaw, but we’re changing his diet again after we move and I really think it will help. Plus, after months of not being coddled through it, he’s no longer afraid of thunder and will, to my chagrin, now take walks in the rain. (I used to judge those people who put their dogs in rain coats, but after towel drying an 80 lb. Rott a few times, I believe they are wise, wise folk.)

Last summer Dietrich walked in political parades, wearing his backpack and handing out candy. He went to the lake with us and some friends, where we learned that not only can he swim but he loveslovesloves the water. After my Martha surgery, Dietrich only left my side to move to a cool patch of carpet on the other side of the chair. When we moved, the husband drove the truck and I drove the car with Dietrich in the backseat, from which he navigated expertly. And when a positive pregnancy test caught me completely off-guard, Dietrich snuggled next to me while I collected myself. These days we often meet the husband at the Metro station after work and the pup sits or lays patiently on the grass while commuters galore hustle past, until at last he sees the husband and the full-body wag commences.

A friend warned me the other week that I better not be one of those people who dumps the dog the second the baby is born. Dietrich is the one constant in our lives over the last year, and there’s no way we’re going to let part of our pack go.

I often tell Dietrich that he’s the best $185 we’ve ever spent, and if that’s the price for solid companionship, better health, and a huge soft head with a great smile who barks in his sleep, I’d spend it all over again.

Happy 3rd birthday to the best $185 we ever spent!

I’m turning three and all I get is a picture with this newborn diaper? It makes my head look fat.


4 thoughts on “Birthday dog

  1. Dear Dietrich,

    Happy birthday! I hope you celebrate in style. I trust the weather is not too warm for you, and that the move to your new house will go smoothly.
    Wishing you many more years of happiness with your family,

    From one of your Michigan admirers,

    Karin Maag

    • dr. maag, dietrich sent you a lick and would like you to throw his stuffed hedgehog across the room, if the fact that he laid it on the keyboard when i read him your message is any indication. 🙂

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