Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Karli: The Day we Brought Home our Dream Dog

Karli in the Winter of 2010 
On Thursday, October 1st 2009, my life changed forever. After my father had awoken me at 4:00 a.m. on the morning of this quintessential autumn day, which has since become perpetually ingrained into my memory, I enthusiastically jumped out of bed, ate breakfast, and got dressed in record time. We then shot out of the door, hopped into my father’s Ford pick-up, and embarked on a nine hour round trip. Our destination was an unincorporated community in Minden Township, which is located in the thumb of “The Mitten,” and happens to be the site of a dog kennel which breeds bird dogs. Our mission was to purchase a new puppy. More specifically, we were looking for a German shorthaired pointer pup. We had just lost our GSP of more than fifteen years, Tara, six weeks prior to this adventure, and the absence of a canine had created a profound chasm in our lives which was aching to be remedied. After more than a decade and a half of great memories with the GSP breed, there was simply no other conceivable alternative for us.  
My father had seen that this particular kennel had put an ad in a newspaper for a brand new litter of GSPs earlier in the week, and immediately scheduled an appointment for 9:30 a.m. on Thursday. He asked me to be his "wingman" on this expedition, I happily accepted, and he and I were determined to not be one second tardy. On the journey there, my father and I sipped on freshly brewed coffee as we listened to a couple of local DJs from our neck of the woods discuss Detroit Tigers baseball on their morning show on the local classic rock station. The Tigers, who had been scuffling down the stretch, were hoping to stumble across the finish line and limp into the playoffs. One of the DJs was telling the boys to go out and “win this for Ernie.” The Ernie that he was speaking of was, of course, Ernie Harwell: the Detroit Tigers legendary broadcaster who had recently revealed that he was suffering from terminal bile duct cancer. We all knew that barring a miracle, the 2009 MLB postseason would most likely be the last one that Ernie would ever witness. 
As we continued to drive further east, and watch the day become brighter, my father and I chatted about various topics. We talked briefly about what the name of our dog would be, but we had already, for all practical purposes, decided that we would be naming her Karli. We thought that Karli would be a fitting name for a female GSP, after doing strenuous research on our quest to find the perfect dog name, and discovering the fact that the German meaning for the name Karli happens to be “womanly strength.”
 Hours later, as we were inching closer to our destination, we nearly became lost. However, my dad, being as determined as he was, and always is, would never allow that to occur. He pulled into a gas station, asked for directions, and we were quickly back on track. As we neared the kennel, we proceeded to drive through miles of beautiful, serene, and tranquil eastern Michigan farmland. It reminded me of the kind of amicable and peaceful paradise I have always dreamed about living in. My father, despite being a lifelong resident of the state of Michigan, had never been to this part of the state. Neither had I. 
After we had finally arrived at the kennel, and read the sign which had confirmed we were in the right place, we drove up to the gates, and a few older dogs, who were in a cage and guarding the premises, began barking at us. After they realized that we were nice guys, and were not a threat, we then proceeded to hop out of the truck and walk over to the cage where the GSP puppies were being held.
“Look at these little shorthairs!” I remember by dad exclaiming.
“I can’t believe how small they are,” I replied.    
Moments later the owner of the kennel walked up behind us.
“Good morning, gentlemen,” he said to us. 
My dad introduced himself, and then me, and the owner proceeded to shake our hands. The three of us then reached into the cage, and we each picked up one female puppy out of the litter. The ticked, brown headed, brown tailed, and three spotted little girl I now cradled in my arms would ultimately become Karli. We then brought the three puppies over to a field behind the kennel and let them run and play. I still remember how funny and playful these three little sisters were. I watched as they chased each other’s tails and nuzzled each other’s noses. Then, the dog I had been carrying moments earlier, came over and bit the shoelace on my right shoe as if she were trying to untie it. I cracked a wide smile.
 “Is that the one you want?” Asked my dad.
“Yes,” I replied. “I think it is.”
I remember the owner saying that he liked the one with the white tail, but I had made up my mind that we would be taking the one with the brown tail home with us, and nothing on this Earth could have possibly made me decide otherwise. I knew deep down inside that this dog belonged with us. It was a feeling I couldn't, and still cannot, explain. I also remember the owner saying that we had actually cut ahead of a gentleman who had an earlier appointment, but he gave us the first pick out of the litter nevertheless. If we hadn't arrived as early as we did, there is a chance that someone else could have taken our Karli. It made me realize, as cliché as it sounds, that it really is funny how life works out sometimes.
I remember staring at Karli’s green eyes, which later became brown, as my dad filled out the paperwork before we made our way back to the truck. “Welcome to the family, kid,” my father said to Karli as we hopped back into his Ford and buckled our seat belts. “You’re coming to the best home ever.”  
I still remember how Karli sat on my lap the entire ride home.  The owner had given me a teething bone, which Karli licked at from time to time, but it rested in my shirt pocket for the majority of the trip back home. At one point Karli turned around and started licking my face as if to say thank you for picking me. “She’s bonding with you right now, Brad,” my dad said as he glanced at Karli and I riding in the passenger’s seat. “You are getting a four hour head start on everybody else back at home,” he continued.
Prior to our arrival at the kennel, we lost the signal to the classic rock station we had been listening to, and changed the dial over to a local country station. I still remember listening to Jason Aldean’s relaxing classic Big Green Tractor, as this seven pound little puppy snoozed on my lap. I continued petting Karli, as she snored, and as we got closer to home we were able to pick up the Tigers game. The Tigers would go on to lose, but we had much more important things on the horizon.  
We spent the rest of 2009 watching Karli run, play, grow, and assimilate into the family at a rapid speed. She learned the meaning of several words, the names of objects, all of our names, as well as phrases such as “let’s go play” and “nap time” at an incredibly torrid pace. I was going to college locally at the time, and just a year and a half removed from high school, and on the verge of entering into a new phase of my life. I decided to devote the majority of my time to two things: being the best possible student I could be and being the best pal to Karli that I possibly could be.
When I would do my homework, I would bring Karli into the computer chair with me, so she could take a nap on my lap. However, she would always climb behind by back, and lie on my shoulders, and then rest her head over one of my shoulders as if she were my “dog parrot.” Moreover, whenever I would come home from school, I would always see her in the window looking at me, because she knew the sound of my vehicle. Furthermore, regardless of how much homework I had to do, how many lengthy papers I had to write, or how many tests I needed to study for, taking Karli outside to play was always the first thing I ever did after coming home. 
        Right now, I sit here as a college graduate, as I finished my Bachelor’s Degree last May, hoping to ignite a writing career, with Karli lying on the floor and chewing her favorite moose oven mitt as I tell the world the story of the day we brought her home. Next month we will be celebrating her fourth birthday, and on October 1st , we will be celebrating the fourth anniversary of the day she became a part of our family. I will forever be thankful that she was brought into our lives, and that I was able to play such an important role in hers. The stories and memories that have accumulated in these first four years are endless. I believe now, more than ever, that a dog truly is “man’s best friend” which is why I have decided to share this story to my blog The Way of the Alpha Male. I hope you have enjoyed my story, and please don’t be shy, and feel free to comment on it.

Karli chewing on one of her favorite balls in the Fall of 2012

Till next time,