Introducing Stuart the Schnoodle!
It’s about time, right?! May I present to you, the second love of my life – Stuart. His namesake is the name of the street that Dan and I met on, as neighbors, in Arlington, Virginia. ‘Stuart’ might seem a bit dapper but it suits him perfectly- he’s a silly, sweet, and brilliant little man.
After three years of dating my cute neighbor, Dan and I moved in together and almost immediately knew that a dog was in our future. With a small apartment, we knew we needed a pup that wouldn’t shed or feel trapped without a yard to run in. My childhood dog was a miniature poodle that I loved tremendously, she had a wonderful demeanor and was endlessly loyal (even as I put her in doll clothes). So a poodle-mix just felt right. After a few disappointing inquiries with various breeders, I realized just how yucky the puppy mill business is. In fact, after putting down a deposit for a miniature poodle in central Virginia, I tried to verify that I would indeed be able to meet the parents. After the woman refused, we decided to forgo the deposit because we didn’t want to support her questionable business. I communicated my concerns to the local animal control and they setup an investigation. Although I don’t know the outcome, I’m happy with our decision, because that brought us one step closer to Stuart.
On a sunny Saturday morning, I was perusing through the Washington Post and came across an ad for Schnauzer-Poodle, or Schnoodle, puppies for sale in a town 70 miles outside the city. Hmm. I called and bluntly asked the lady selling the puppies, Elizabeth, about the mother and father: were they on-site? Could I meet them? Does she own them? (If you want tips on verifying you are getting a puppy mill free puppy, let me know!) Her response was perfect, “They’re my babies! Of course you can meet them.” When we arrived at Elizabeth’s house it was exactly what we were looking for – a small country home with a big sunny front porch and zillions of flowers. Elizabeth was as sweet as could be, the parents were calm and loving, and the puppies… ohh the puppies…were the most adorable, happiest, little puppies I’ve ever seen.
After an hour of playing with them it was apparent that we had a favorite. Soon-to-be Stuart, must have been playing his heart out before we arrived because all he wanted to do was crawl into each of our laps and nap, laying his wwwittle tiny head in our hands. We didn’t realize it at the time but this was all part of his plan. We were already getting wrapped around his furry paw.
We stood outside the house discussing what we were about to do – were we really ready to have such a responsibility? Dan’s work schedule allowed him to come home at lunch to feed and walk Stuart, but what about when he had meetings or I was out of town and couldn’t get home early? The last thing we wanted to do was adopt a dog and be poor parents. I really encourage anyone that wants a dog to think longgg and hard about the realities of having a full time responsibility, especially those that currently don’t have anyone to look out for aside from themselves. Kiss post-work drinks with coworkers and sleeping in late on Saturday mornings goodbye, you’ve got a mouth to feed!
We were ready. We knew we’d be great parents and wanted to shower this little animal with love. So, with Stuart sitting on my lap in the backseat of the car we headed home to Arlington. That night as he cried his little heart out missing his family, Dan and I laid on the floor by his bed and did our best to comfort him. That was the first of many near-sleepless nights. We showed up to work groggy, woke early to walk him, spent weeks (…months) house training him, set rules against sitting on the furniture (then broke them), read nutrition labels on dog food, bought everything from antlers to fancy harnesses, all in the name of this little animal. In return, Stuart gives us that amazing endless love that only a dog can.
It’s funny how having him here in Germany has made this foreign land ‘home’ for us much more quickly. He could care less if we’re hiking in the Black Forest or cruising around Prague, he’s thrilled to be able to be with us more than ever before. Europe welcomes dogs everywhere (bars, restaurants, ferries) and we take Stuart with us as much as possible. Bringing him to festivals, however, is a terrible idea. There’s a GOLD mine of food on the ground- not just fries and onion rings, we’re talking sausages and steak. It doesn’t help that Stuart shares a solid appreciation for the meats with the Germans. Driving with the windows down, we’ve left too many events with a bloated and gassy hund. Geh.
Poor Stuart. When we ran out of dog food on a German holiday (there are many) we had no choice but to give him frozen green beans for dinner.
I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s skyped with my dog, right? In fact, I’ll confess, it’s not just me – it’s my entire family. More often than not, it’s Stuart that’s getting the screen-time with my parents. One night when Stuart was exceptionally rowdy as parents kept calling out his name (Stuart nails the curious head tilt every time), I told them they weren’t allowed to talk anymore because Stuart kept jumping on my keyboard. So, while Stuart calmed down into a slumber, my Mom watched (was she crying?) quietly repeating “He’s so beautiful…”. I know who she misses more.
There you have it, folks. Count on seeing Stuart’s furry face throughout gutenblog y’all. He’s part of our little family, after all, and we all know he’s the most photogenic.
What about you, do you have a special canine in your life? Has he or she made all the difference in the world after a big move?