chaucer's early days

The very stylish, funny, and talented Ashley of Perfectly Average Girl, whom I suspect knows I'm laid up with a toothache* and therefore unable to go foraging mischievously about the city for new material, quite kindly threw a blogging prompt at me the other day on Instagram.

She said, Yo Ellie, I request a blog post about Chaucer's Gotcha Day. And far be it from me to shy away from talking about my dog, like, ever. So I was all, I'll see what I can do. And this is what I can do.

First, a confession: Chaucer is a pet store dog. And that's a shameful thing to admit, because puppy mills are terrible, terrible places. And believe me, I would never, ever buy another pet from a pet store. And every other dog I have ever had was either a rescue or purchased from a certified breeder. And the same goes for every other dog my ex-husband has ever had, too.

But Chaucer was a something of an impulse purchase, and I'm sorry to say, he came from a pet store. Because for as much as Mike and I had planned on getting a dog for a long time, we hadn't yet decided on a breeder - or even a breed - much less put a deposit down on a litter. And we were terribly impatient and immature about the whole process (fuck, we were terribly impatient and immature about everything). So while we talked and talked and talked about what kind of dog we were going to get, and while we looked at breeders online, at the same time we occasionally went into the local pet shops to see what they had.

We told ourselves we were just doing research, to see different kinds of dogs and maybe familiarize ourselves a little bit with breeds we'd never gotten to see up close, etc. - but I think deep down we both knew it was a matter of time before we just decided to go for it, and to get one of those dogs on the spot.

Like I say: not proud of this. In my defense, our engagement was a disaster from the start, and throwing ourselves into dog shopping was just one of the many ways we distracted ourselves from the mistake we were making in being together - not to mention in planning our wedding.

Anyway, one day, Mike came home and said, I found him. I found our dog. And the way his face was just lit up with excitement, I knew we were getting that dog.

He told me all about the six month old English Mastiff puppy he'd seen at a pet store near us. He described him as best as he could. But he kept saying, You have to come see him. You have to meet him, you'll see. Mike said that when they'd let Chaucer (though of course we hadn't named him yet) out of the little puppy cage area, and walked him over to where Mike was waiting for him in the getting-to-know-your-potential-new-owners area, that Chaucer had - never having even seen him before - run straight to him, so fast, that he'd slid right into Mike's legs.

Anyway, something was going on that I couldn't leave right then to go to the pet store. I had to work or something. So we had to wait until the next morning. And we wanted to be there right when it opened, because by this time, even though only one of us had met him, we were both pretty much in love with this dog, and had decided to get him.

I remember the first time I saw Chaucer, he was behind the glass of one of those awful little pet store cubicles. But he wasn't alone. He was with a tiny little beagle puppy. And he had the beagle's entire head in his mouth. Like, the whole thing. And the beagle was loving it. The two of them were just flopping about, playing and nipping and wrestling the way that puppies do. And Mike looked at me to see if I loved him as much as he did, and I did.

I absolutely did.

Then they let Chaucer out, and he bounded straight up to Mike. And I just stared, in awe, at the cuteness that was chewing our shoelaces with his wickedly sharp little puppy teeth. I couldn't believe that he had not already been snatched up.

The pet store staff were sad to see him go. They told us that after the store was closed, when they were cleaning up and restocking, that they often let Chaucer out to run around and keep them company. That he'd been the store favorite. And when we were walking him out and he snatched a dried pig ear from a low bin near the cash register, the employee who was helping us just laughed and said he was welcome to it.

He was already so big that it was difficult to carry him. He had such a bloated belly, probably from the awful food he was eating at the pet store. We took him home and brought him and our other dog - a retired racing Greyhound - into the backyard, to let them meet.

Chaucer was instantly in love with his older brother, who, for his part, was pretty excited, too. They ran back and forth together across the yard, and twice inside of ten minutes, Chaucer fell into the pool while chasing Stanley. Both times he made a huge, hilarious kerplunk! sound and sank like a stone. Both times I jumped immediately in after him, fully clothed, and hoisted him back out.

The trauma stuck: to this day he's a little bit spooked by deep pools of water.

What else? He was a massive baby, and hated to be crated. And in fact, Mike hated crating him so badly that at night, he would lay on the floor, next to the crate, to sleep right next to Chaucer. The crate was in our bedroom, so it wasn't as if the puppy was far from us, but the bed was pretty high up, so he couldn't see us. And Mike was such a sucker for his cries, oh my god.

We got Chaucer the day before Halloween. So it was perfect timing to show him off and let him socialize a little bit with all the kids and parents the next night (we lived in the suburbs, in Tucson, so we had plenty of young family foot traffic).

I used to take him to the massive dog park just a couple miles from our house. I mean, compared to LA dog parks, this this was a football field, really. Just enormous. And Chaucer was such a great little socializer. He'd play, but not too rough. He'd spar with the bigger dogs, but run with the little ones, too. One of the dogs he used to play with was a Great Dane named George, who was later crowned the World's Largest dog - and appeared on Oprah. (I found out about the Guinness and Oprah details just last fall, when I stumbled across a YouTube video of George. I was all, OMG Chauc your friend is famous! And he was all, Cool.)

He used to have what we called the "midnight naughties" where he'd run around like a maniac, out of nowhere, really late at night. He'd just get this crazy streak of hyperactivity, and run laps around the kitchen island, or the bed, or up and down the stairs. Mastiffs aren't supposed to really be run much until they're at least a year old, so I think he must have had all kinds of pent-up energy he wasn't getting out otherwise. It was hilarious to watch.

Chaucer was only about a year old when he was called on to do ring-bearer duty at our wedding...

Anyway, this is a bit of a random and scattered post, because I'm to be honest, I'm pretty doped up on Vicodin (see note below), but Ashley was so sweet to ask about Chaucer's early days in my life, that I wanted to get down at least some of basics. 

Thanks, Ashley! 



* not sure, but I suspect I have dry socket, or at the very least some kind of inflammation/complication from Friday's wisdom teeth removal - going back to the dentist this afternoon to find out :(