“Quick, get a towel!”
I ignored the plea and continued to fill the washing machine with white sheets.
I shut the washer door, glancing into the kitchen just in time to see a brown dog lopping toward me at top speed.
“Jameson!” The dog bounded onto its rear legs to give me a full-body embrace: tail wagging, paws on shoulders, nose to nose. The jubilance continued as the dog raced back toward my husband, slopping wet mud with each step. My white dog was covered in muck.
While this transformation from white to brown and back again is easily remedied, Jameson has a sordid past. We lost the last of our three senior dogs the year before, and I longed for a ball of fluff. Once I convinced my husband that he, too, needed a dog, I began my search for a Golden Retriever rescue. Unfortunately, the wait was unbearable.
“Why don’t you check Craig’s List?” my son asked.
I was skeptical. Only bad things happen on Craig’s List—people are cheated, mistreated, and sometimes robbed! I’d even heard a story that required a trade at a police station to ensure top-notch “security.”
But curiosity got the better of me. Just a little search and jackpot! A male English cream golden retriever puppy with papers (for an extra charge) topped the list. I texted the number, received photos of the pup, mom, and dad in reply: all a beautiful soft butter color, floppy ears, and bright round eyes. I grabbed my purse (and son—it was Craig’s List after all) and headed to a nearby Checkers restaurant to get Jameson.
The name Jameson derived from the shade of most Goldens—a goldish, reddish, whiskey color. The name had been a joke at first until it wasn’t.
The woman who placed the ad exited her Jaguar and set a white cotton ball onto the ground. A six-week-old, 8-pound male sweety pie stumbled over the grass to sit on my lap. It was love at first sight and the last puppy! The woman handed me Jameson’s shot record. I slapped a fat wad of $20s in her fist (after driving to an ATM because, apparently, Craig’s List is a cash thing), and Jameson was the newest member of Club Nissen.
At our first puppy well-visit, the tech asked, “Name?”
“No, this is a female.”
“No, it’s a male,” I confidently responded. How could the vet tech be wrong? This wasn’t my first dog; I know the difference between a male and a female.
“Nope, I’m pretty sure this is a female.” She flipped Jameson upside down to prove her point.
My face turned a slow crimson, “Really?”
“You can call her Jamie! And look at this, double rear dewclaws. Sometimes that happens, but not often.”
I left with a sinking feeling. Was something wrong with my pup?
A few months later, my beautiful Jameson, dressed in a pink collar, started to show signs of other Golden defects. A tail that didn’t hang right (it curled!). Long froglike hind legs, which turned inward at their ankles. Was that the beginning of hip dysplasia? Almond-shaped eyes. A body covered in dark pigment spots and her fur—a pure white—unlike her creamy Craig’s List parents. We were concerned.
Eventually, a random comment from a West Texas campground custodian said she resembled an Akbash. “An Ak what?” we asked. Then we found her Google siblings: The frog legs, the curled tail, the pure white fur with biscuit-colored ears, double dewclaws, and a spotted underbelly. Akbash, a rare Turkish herding dog. Her brethren were bred as Livestock Guarding Dogs to watch the herds and warn of danger. Jameson would make her ancestors proud when she sits on the stairs and howls at passersby.
Our neighbors might disagree with her assessment of what danger they possess, but nonetheless, she deserves an A+. Even digging (to keep themselves warm or cool while working) is considered a natural tendency for these independent, patient, watchers of their flock.
While at one point, I longed for another Golden Retriever (with papers!), I’ve learned a valuable lesson. That my dog—no matter the breed—is perfect for me. As for Craig’s List? I think I’ll leave my experience in the parking lot of Checkers.