Thursday, October 29, 2009

Gunner's Got a Mom

Navy Son has loved animals since he was small. Well, with the exception of the kitten I brought home when he and Married Son were 1 and 2 1/2 (respectively). I remember bringing home a fine young calico. Both boys screamed in terror, climbed up my legs, and wept until the little ball of fur convinced them he wasn’t going to claw them to death. They eventually named him Bango.

When he was two years old and suffering from double-pneumonia, we bought Navy Son a Pound Purry for $2. He named her Missy and she went everywhere with him. She became part of the family.

Fast forward; a few dogs, a wild cat, and one Buddy later, Navy Son wants a hunting dog – enter Gunner. Male, tri-color beagle, roughly ten months old. Still a puppy really – full of piss and vinegar, killer of bunnies. But Navy Son is getting deployed soon and they don’t let dogs on subs. I drove down to get Gunner.

We became fast friends, Gunner and I – until we loaded him into the U-Haul. Gunner was shaking and unsure. I tried to engage him on our nine hour drive home, but he wasn’t having any. I bought him some treats that he carefully sniffed and declined. He just sat in the passenger seat and looked out the window. My heart broke.

He warmed up quickly once I got him home – jumped out of the truck, ran into the Daughter’s bedroom, announcing himself by pooping on the floor. Nice.

It had been years since Buddy had that much energy, and it was a delight. We bought Puppy Chow, chew bone things, treats, a squeaky quacky duck thing , and several balls with which to play. When unobserved, he rips up tissues and papers and I need to put things out of reach so he doesn’t gnaw on them.

He sleeps in my bed every night, usually at the top of my head, though sometimes he burrows into the blankets and keeps me warm. He bounds outside, loves to snuffle things up with that monster nose of his, and would eat the whole bag of food in one sitting if I left it where he could get at it. Of late, he has started staring creepily into a corner of the Daughter’s room growling and barking.

I imagine our apartment is haunted. Haunted with either the ghosts of Chick’s Dead Brides, or the young woman across the parking lot who was killed by her boyfriend back in April.

So, I find myself the Mom of a young gun once again. Jumping all over me when I get home, flying around the house, leaping on tennis balls, and wagging his tail like a windshield wiper in a downpour.

We still miss Buddy and think of him often. There’s no replacing a beloved member of the family. But we are distracted and enchanted by our new friend.


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