Life is unpredictable. You can plan out every detail and be amazed or disappointed with the way things unfold, or you can roll with the punches and choose your moments to take action. You may know where or who you want to be ten years from now, but to think you have complete control over the way it plays out is incredibly shortsighted.
In July of 2010, we had to put our dog down. Woody was an English Mastiff — the huge dog from The Sandlot — with an ambiguous past. We rescued him when he was about four years old, so the first few years of his life were a mystery to us and even to the woman who’d found him in the woods (hence, the name). He was great with us; he just didn’t like certain people, and he was untrusting of strangers. I don’t think he liked the smell of cigarettes, either.
Large dogs don’t live quite as long as smaller pooches because of physical complications, especially with the hips and back legs. When we said goodbye to Woody, we agreed not to get another dog. For the foreseeable future, our home would be petless. Cleaner, yes, and at least a little quieter — but as empty as it’d felt in years.
A couple of months later, my family drove up to Lake Placid for my cousin’s wedding. My brother and I had floated around the idea of getting a puppy, but my dad wasn’t entertaining it. Mom kept her opinions to herself because she didn’t want to take sides (read: Mom wanted a dog but wouldn’t say anything). While in our hotel room, my dad’s phone buzzed. His friend had found a German Shepherd tied to a pole on the side of the road a few days earlier. Dad’s buddy was an active volunteer for a German Shepherd rescue organization and a dog owner himself, so he didn’t want his home overrun by Shepherds.
“I, uh, know you guys were maybe looking for a dog…”
My dad’s biggest mistake was showing us a picture of the pup, which was the point I made when arguing why we should take the dog. If Dad didn’t want to get another dog, why would he show his family — three people who clearly wanted another pet — a photo of an adorable, helpless German Shepherd? He unconsciously wanted the house to be less clean, less quiet, less empty.
Nothing about the future is foreseeable.
On September 6th, 2010, we officially got Lance, our new pet and family member. If you’re wondering where in the hell we got Lance from, we’d begun brainstorming names in that Lake Placid hotel room. After tossing around a few stupid ideas, my dad’s friend told us he had taken the dog to the vet and the vet said the dog only had one testicle.
That was it. We named him Lance. (Now he has none.)