I knew from the get-go that my foster dog, Bleu – a highly active animal in need of a home during this pandemic, when local shelters are short-staffed and struggling – would win me over. But for weeks I kept my adoption options open. When it became clear that my summer travel plans would tank, and my son promised to care for him when I go abroad again, I caved.
And now we’re in this together. The dog has taken shameless advantage of his change of fortune.
He’s commandeered the couch, the window-side easy chair, and the far-greater comforts in both bedrooms of my Midwestern bungalow home. He’s sailed through the front screen door and jumped the backyard fence to get to know the local streets and a nearby 40-acre park, wholly on his own. (All exit possibilities have since been reinforced.) He scatters my recycling bags, devours any food left out on the countertop – preferring English muffins to bagels – and once managed to drink a glass of milk I’d put on the table for my visiting grandson while I went to the basement. When I came up, there it was: an upright, empty glass. Connor was still in a deep teenage sleep.
Bleu was now lying on the sofa, licking off a telltale white mustache, glancing at me appreciatively with his one brown and one vividly blue eye.
Still disbelieving, I actually looked for videos of dogs drinking from glasses on YouTube and, sure enough, came upon photographer William Wegman’s famous Weimaraner, Man Ray, doing just that on “Late Night With David Letterman” some years ago.
Bleu drags me behind him and from side to side on walks, in pursuit of one thing or another. Obedience training is not in the cards these days, and he takes every opportunity to bolt toward any life form we encounter. Even certain flora are bolt-worthy: He once ushered me through a patch of poison ivy.
What’s not to love?
He’s become a neighborhood celebrity, like the big brown dog I recently bid goodbye to at an advanced age. Omaha stood out with his beautiful, brown rippling fur, ruffled feet, and feathered tail, sparking compliments up until the last week of his life. But he had once been abused and didn’t like to get close to many other people.
Bleu’s main asset is the sheer force of his exuberant personality, and he is far more trusting of folks than Omy ever was. He adores meeting anyone. He constantly challenges the six feet of separation rule as his leash is not quite that long.
I’m making some progress on training him myself to walk less erratically on a lead. Here, Connor has been a great help, strong enough to hold him to heel when a squirrel catches his eye, and patient enough to kneel and encourage him to stay with treats.
But most of the time Bleu and I are out there as just a twosome, and we’re still a walking work in progress – not to mention a huge source of entertainment for a suddenly more connected community of neighbors who meet and greet outside. Released from his shelter kennel, Bleu has stretched into a new world of mobility and freedom, in a place where everybody already knows his name, if not the correct, French spelling on his adoption certificate.
The sweet irony of that these days isn’t lost on anyone who sees him coming. Walking me.