It's a girl!

By Kris Ferrazza | Feb 01, 2019

Congratulate us. It’s a girl!

Our baby girl arrives tomorrow night and I couldn’t be more excited. Bella the collie will be the first female dog I’ve owned in my life. Suffice it to say, I’m counting the minutes.

Our bouncing baby girl is a beautiful blue merle. She is a shaggy swirl of black, white and gray fur with a beautiful speckled face. We’re told she’s 2 years old, about to turn 3, and needed a home. She is energetic and loves to snuggle, we’re told. She also likes attention and when she doesn’t get it, she becomes mischievous.

That last part got my attention. All dogs can get into trouble from time to time, but just how mischievous are we talking? Well, I frankly didn’t want to ask. So I didn’t. Furthermore, I might have hidden that little detail from my husband altogether. I decided I’d save it for later. Much later. Basically, after he’d fallen in love with the needy little bundle and it was too late to stamp her “Return to sender.”

So off we went for a meet-and-greet with Bella. We’d only been there 10 minutes when the dog owner raised the subject.

“So, I told you she can be mischievous,” she said.

“Yes, that’s OK, she’s still young,” I replied, trying to sound casual as I petted the dog.

“In what way?” my husband asked. Now she had his attention.

“Well,” she said, laughing, “you might find her on the counter.”

Oh crap.

“Or right up on the table,” she chuckled.

What?

“And don’t forget the time we found her on the stove,” her husband chimed in, shaking his head at the memory.

Uh-oh.

A movie clip of this adorable dog setting our house on fire started to play in my mind’s eye. The curtains were billowing dramatically, while flames tore through the roof, but I didn’t even care. While the blaze engulfed my home, our family of three stood safely outside with Bella as fire trucks screamed into the driveway.

When I finally snapped back to reality, my husband was giving me some major side-eye. I cleared my throat and calmly asked about her health history and feeding schedule.

Outside in the pickup, my daughter squealed with delight.

“Can’t we just take her now?” she begged, her hands clasped tightly together. She was clearly smitten.

“No, we’re not ready,” Dr. No snapped.

“We are taking her though, aren’t we?” I asked. “I told the lady I’d let her know soon.”

“Yeah. I guess. If you think it’s a good idea,” he said, sounding unconvinced.

Since I’m not always known for my good ideas, I was surprised he was letting me decide.

“If you’re worried about the stove, I’m sure we can rehabilitate her,” I said. “And definitely increase our homeowner’s insurance.”

He didn’t laugh.

“We’ll teach her to behave,” Lizzy said earnestly. “I think she’ll be a good dog.”

Crickets.

“She just needs to learn a few more manners,” I said.

Clearly outnumbered, my husband agreed. So in 24 hours we will be dog owners again. Ever since the loss of our beautiful sable collie in March, we have been missing having a dog in the house. And while Bella will never replace our beloved Angus, she will help to heal our broken hearts and bring that spark back into the house that only a collie dog can deliver.

Looking at Bella gives me a sense of deja vu. Before we had Angus, we had a blue merle collie named Milo. He was our first love when we brought him home 17 years ago. We picked him up in the parking lot of Home Depot in Augusta. They unloaded him from the back of a truck, along with a rabbit, a goat and a sable collie pup that was going to another family.

“We want that one instead!” the ungrateful children said when they saw our dog, and pointed at Milo. I remember feeling sick as they ignored their own puppy and petted ours. Milo was covered in pine shavings and didn’t even know how to walk on a leash. He had a long collie nose and pricked ears that pointed in two different directions. Needless to say, we fell in love with him immediately, too.

When the rest of my family met him that Easter, I remember my niece saying, “Milo. An adorable little name for an adorable little dog.” It was so true.

We enrolled him in puppy obedience classes right away, eager to train him to be a model canine citizen. He quickly became the class clown, often barking at the other dogs and refusing to follow our commands. Fortunately, his cuteness prevented his expulsion and he was allowed to finish out the semester.

In hindsight, we probably indulged him a bit too much. He had a bad habit of putting his front paws on people’s shoulders, standing at full height, and peering intently into their faces.

“Our apologies” I’d say. “He just doesn’t see very well.”

He also was a barker, which led us to get a welcome mat that read, “For whom the dog barks, it barks for thee.” He was a speed demon, and would race along our property line, often scaring passing joggers and cyclists, who feared he would leave the yard.

“Don’t worry. He has the Invisible Fence!” we’d call out, as the neighbors tried to regain their composure.

This time around, I plan to be more strict. Bella’s going to get a dose of "tough love." I will not allow her to stand on the counter, the table or the stove. Unlike Milo, she will not gallop through the house like a racehorse, jump on visitors or sneak siestas on the sofa. She will not rip up newspapers, tear up bills or do any of the other naughty things I may have been told she likes to do.

Our daughter has been driving us crazy, counting down the days until Bella arrives.

“I’m so excited,” she says at least three times per day. “Mom, aren’t you excited?”

“Yes, I am so excited,” I reply.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how excited are you?” she asks.

“Oh, probably a 10 or an 11,” I answer.

“Me too,” she says. “Dad, are you excited?”

“I’m getting a little more into the idea as time goes on,” he says diplomatically.

“But how excited?”

“Eh, probably a five,” he says.

“A five?!” she sputters. “What were you before?”

The kitty still hasn’t weighed in, but I have a feeling he may not even give it a five. Time will tell.

And the beat goes on.

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