The love affair started innocently enough.
We’d been married three weeks when she asked what kind of dog I liked.
That was the day I learned one should be wary of off-the-cuff questions as you never know where they might lead.
Since I never had a dog growing up - which she thought was an unfair situation for a guy - I said the first breed that came to my mind.
It happened to be Dalmatians.
How I came up with the dog with an aristocratic lineage, known as carriage dogs, and are dubbed “fire” dogs by some had everything to do with my movie habits or lack thereof. When I saw “Star Wars” in 1977 it was the first movie I had been to since seeing the original Disney “101 Dalmatians” in 1964. In other words dogs weren’t exactly my thing nor were the movies.
A month after she popped the question, we dropped by Pastor Marv Root’s home. They ushered me into a bedroom where there were nine of the ugliest white puppies you’ve ever seen. She told me that she had bought a Dalmatian puppy for me and for me to take the pick of the litter.
I wasn’t exactly thrilled about the fact I was about to get a dog but by then I knew better than to turn down a gift from someone you had said “I do” to.
So I looked them over and settled on the ugliest one with absolutely no spots that also happened to be the scrawniest, most lethargic acting, and the one that the other puppies seemed to ignore. She wasn’t thrilled with my choice but told me it was my decision. As for me, I tend to empathize with the underdog and those shunned because they don’t fit the mold. We were told to come back in two weeks when the puppies were fully weaned from their mother.
Imagine our surprise when we returned to pick up the puppy to discover he was now the pudgiest of them all, had the biggest and sharpest covering of spots, was super hyperactive, and had a happy-go-lucky personality that made the other Dalmatians come across as listless which they weren’t.
And what else do you name your first Dalmatian? Zebra, of course.
That was 19 years ago. Zebra has since passed away. Another eight Dalmatians entered my life at one time or another. They came mostly from people who could no longer keep them because they had turned from cute adorable puppies into rambunctious young adults that couldn’t sit still. Most were just temporary guests staying for about six or so months until someone came along that was ready for a somewhat calmer Dalmatian. Several adopted me with three coming from a Dalmatian rescue group in Turlock.
I absolutely fell in love with a brother-sister pair from the rescue that I named Cruella and DeVille. I should have called them Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. She was petite by Dalmatians standards and lithe while he was athletic and had more energy than your average atom bomb. They came into my life as 3 year-olds.
Several years ago Cruella was taken away by a stroke. She was just 6. The vet explained that it could be a hereditary issue but I figured there was no way DeVille could possibly be susceptible. After all, you couldn’t tire him out if you wanted to do.
A month or so ago the signs started surfacing that all was not well.
All DeVille wanted to do was sleep and mosey around although he’d pick it up a bit for walks.
There was no way that a dog that was shy around strangers, would scare off a pit bull when the three of us (Cruella, DeVille and myself) were jogging, or would go nuts whenever he spied a bird or cat even if it was one made of concrete could go down for the count.
DeVille passed away Sunday. I admit I cried.
As I type this on my iPad, I see spots peering in the patio slider. Cruella2 - who came into our lives after Cruella passed away - is going nuts trying to find DeVille.
I’ll give it a few weeks. I’ll muse over who in their right mind would want two high energy dogs although I admit to me they seem downright calm. Then I’ll give in.
Maybe dogs do reflect their owner’s to a degree.
If that’s the case, I’d take it as a compliment.
What better way to approach life than being upbeat and eager to get up every day and tackle whatever comes your way while acting as if you don’t have a care in the world.
This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209-249-3519.