Saturday, October 06, 2007

A New Stevens

So we finally made an addition to our family, though those who were hoping for a bouncing baby Stevens are bound to be disappointed. We think children are at least two years off.

No, this addition came in the form of our first family pet. Austin is a small, cocker-spaniel mix (I personally see a little Pomeranian in him as well). We had a quite a day bringing him into our home.



I should start off by mentioning that the occasion for his arrival was Bethany’s birthday. She’s expressed a desire for a dog since we were married, and I’ve always argued against getting one in order to keep our lives simple and our travel plans complication-free.

But in the midst of the turmoil generated by the resolution of a recent argument, I realized that the upsides of having an additional companion in our home was potentially greater than the complications of caring for and housing another being in our home.

Simply put: I’m too busy, and the tension that sometimes builds up in Bethany when I am engaged in research appears to be easily dissipated by her concern for and care of others. So having a four-legged member of the family who needs some primary care appears to be in both our self-interests.

So we decided to get a dog. Bethany had decided that she liked the idea of having a cocker spaniel and we both decided we wanted to try and rescue a dog, so we conducted some research, drew up a complicated itinerary and spent her birthday looking for a dog.

Our first stop took us to the Human Society of Dallas. We had seen an online profile of a sweet-looking female cocker spaniel named Brighton.



We arrived at the facility about noon and looked over their animals. I won’t go into detail about state of the facility other than to say that I didn’t think I’d EVER stop reeking of cat droppings.

Brighton was a sweet dog. However, the facilitators at the shelter had turned on a misting sprinkler in all the dogs cages, so our first impressions were marred by the fact that Brighton was one soaking wet and terrified dog.

I steeled myself for Bethany’s reaction. Brighton was a cutie, and when I learned that the facility charged $200 for an adoption, I steeled myself for the hit.

But then we learned that other people were interested in Brighton, and that the best we could hope for would be to fill out an application and see if our living conditions were judged more favorable than the previous applicants.

So we continued on with our quest (BTW, we did receive a call about Brighton 24 hours later, we were selected as the favorable owners. Unfortunately, we had already made a different commitment by then).

We next visited the City of Fort Worth Animal Care and Control Division. We had seen a male cocker spaniel named Mason on PetFinder.com, so we went to investigate.

Mason was a fun dog: not too bright, but very friendly and loving. But in the next cage over, we saw a small mixed spaniel named “Gordo” that we decided to check out.

This dog was very curious and active, but continually ran back to jump in Bethany’s arms. I knew within moments that he was coming home with us.

We filled out all the paperwork, paid the fee (at $70, quite a bargain) and loaded him up for the return trip to Dallas.

We knew we would immediately rename the dog. “Gordo”? Spanish for “fat”? Was this someone’s idea of a joke?

We initially thought we would name our dog “Jim-Jim.” Jim Jim, the “Down-Underdog,” is actually a wine label that makes a great Shiraz. We thought naming our dog after a wine we liked named after a dog would be a nice touch.

But when the time came, we settled on “Austin.” Of course, we both love Austin, TX, and that certainly played into the decision. But it just seemed to suit him: the curiosity, the laid back nature and even the propensity for running around the room naked (unfortunately, we don’t own bongo drums).



And I really thought that as we discovered our dog’s quirks and odd behaviors that it would be fun to help “Keep Austin Weird.” Seriously, we’re looking for family shirts next time we make it down to Austin.

The day following his adoption, Austin was on hand for a game watching party for the 2007 Red River Rivalry, so he even got to break in his Longhorn bandana we bought him.

He’s really adjusted quite well to our home. And as for us … well, couldn’t everyone benefit from a little Austin in their lives?