Way back in the Jurassic when I was in college, I did something stupid. Leaving California at the end of the summer to travel back to school, I got the bright idea to stop at the Animal Shelter and pick up a puppy. I loved puppies, they're bright and cute and good traveling companions....

I didn't stop to think how difficult this would make finding an apartment once I got back to school. I finally found a boarding room in a home that was a hefty drive from campus, but they were willing to take me and my dog, and they had a back yard where he could spend the days. Winter nights in Utah are too cold for him to sleep outside, so they agreed to let me keep him in at night.

I also didn't think of how unfair this was to the poor dog who had to spend most of his time alone while I was at school or at work. I came home one day to find that the owners of the house had given my dog away to a nice family who really had time for him. It was the mature, responsible thing to do.

(Jumping forward to the present...)

My youngest daughter who is a Junior in college was hiking in the woods near her boyfriend's house when they discovered a puppy. About four weeks old, starving, mangy, belly full of worms... a miserable little abandoned ball of fuzz and whimper. They took him to the vet, got him de-wormed (twice) and treated for the mange and ear mites, found themselves itching (yes, humans can suffer from mange...) and kept him in Beth's dorm room until he started making lots of loud puppy noises. No dogs allowed in dorms (other than assistant dogs) so...

They took him back out to her boyfriend's parents. Lots of property. Lots of lonely time because both his folks work. Lots of whimper...

We asked Beth to mind our animals while we traveled to OVFF and she took the occasion to bring along her puppy. We met him when we returned. A real cutie of a dog. They think he is part bloodhound, part beagle, part who knows what. Reddish goldenish with black feet. Looks like he needs a bath but he doesn't. First they named him Yellow. Then they named him Red. We took to calling him Muddy. We noticed that he is limping. Seriously limping. Won't or can't put his left hind leg down when he walks.


Beth has to go to school, and they don't have time to take the pup all the way back to Lake Lanier, so I tell her it's okay if he stays with us for a couple of days. She is mightily relieved. I'm falling in love with this little dog.

Our older dog has become the Grand Old Man teaching this pup a thing or two right away, like when enough 'in your face' energy is enough. Our old cat holed up in my bedroom for a day, and then decided that the best place was on top of a book shelf, far out of the puppy's reach. They will tangle, eventually, and no doubt... my money's on the cat.

We have access to the vet who treated the pup, so Aaron and I take Muddy to our vet and have the leg checked out. We get him his second puppy vaccinations, and are happy to learn that the mange is gone, as are the ear mites. Consulting with a surgeon, however, we are sad to learn that three weeks earlier, the pup suffered some kind of injury to the knee joint that interrupted the bone growth in the lower long bone. There is nothing the surgeon can do because of deterioration to the joint. The poor dog will only have use of three legs, but he's in no pain and gets around just fine on the three legs that work.

When Beth and her boyfriend return, we let them know their findings. We offer to keep the dog here and watch the look of relief spread across both their faces.

So... my Karma finally caught up with me. Now I'm in the position of doing the mature, responsible, right thing to help a poor little puppy. We got Muddy a crate, and a bunch of toys so he might not chew up all our furniture legs, and a large bag of puppy chow. He's a handful, like all babies are. We're crazy for doing this, but it still feels good.