Aspen Untucked: Doubling Down
It’s been a fairly long time since I’ve written about parenthood, or my dog Cassius or my slow progress to mothering a child (a.k.a. growing up). As of late, I’ve been relatively content talking about over indulgent, booze-filled events; fun things to get excited about for the summer and my recent international travels. However, intermingled between the elongated toasts and the celebratory guffaws, adulthood has been showing up in strange places, rearing its overly mature head in my direction.
If you’ve read my column in the past, you may remember that in August 2014 I rescued a beta fish from a friend who no longer wished to handle it. Taking care of another living thing was intimidating for my 24-year-old self. By 2015, the beta fish — despite my efforts to keep it alive — passed on to fish heaven. At that time, my boyfriend and I decided we were responsible enough to adopt a puppy from the Aspen Animal Shelter. We named him Cassius, or Cash for short.
The three of us — Cassius, my boyfriend Matt and I — have been through a lot over the past few years, from hiking 14ers to road tripping the West Coast to paddleboarding rapids. Now, as Cash is almost turning 3, or 21 depending on how you calculate, we figured it was time for him to have a buddy. We thought he needed a friend, someone who would be tied to his hip, especially for those hours that we weren’t there. So, assuming that we knew perfectly well what is best for our son, we got him a sister last weekend.
She came to us via a lifeline puppy rescue website. There must be millions of pet rescue, pet breeder and pet matching sites out there, each looking as sketchy as the next. This one was no exception. The only promising thing about it was the extensive photos of cute, adoptable puppies. We saw her picture and were immediately smitten. The 9-week-old Australian shepherd-heeler mix stole our hearts with a single snapshot. But, when we went to get more details on her, the photo had been taken down from the website. Still, we went to the organization’s weekly adoption event. Matt was excited about a potential new pup, but I was discouraged that the pup we had seen on the website was no longer available. We arrived at the ranch somewhere in Brighton. A group of excited potential pet owners had already formed. We were 14th in line – yes, they actually gave out numbers.
At this adoption event, the puppy rescue boasted 55 canines under one year of age. Typically, I would consider a situation like this to be heaven. But I was skeptical of all the pups we walked by, just positive that not one would be as perfect as the Aussie I saw in that photo.
Finally, we asked the manager of the rescue if there was any chance she was still there. She took us over to a small pen where a tiny little puppy was hiding in the corner. Apparently, the little girl we fell in love with online was adopted and then returned because her owners thought she was too shy to handle. Maybe Matt and I have a knack for picking the timid ones — Cash was alarmingly quiet when we first adopted him — but once we held her, there was no stopping us. We adopted said shy one and took her home, naming her June. So now we have a June and a Cash, like the rockstar duo.
Despite our genuine efforts to make Cash happy with this new addition to the family, the reality of the situation has turned out slightly different. Cassius went from being a puppy to an adult overnight once June arrived, and I’m not sure he’s particularly happy about it. He goes through mood swings where one moment he loves having another dog in the house and the next he’s hoarding his bones in a corner of his kennel, as if relinquishing them to June could threaten life as he knows it. But he’s coming around. Every time she whimpers or barks, he runs over to check on her and licks her face playfully.
As for Matt and I, we are fully entrenched in parent mode, which means many sleepless nights, exaggerated anxieties and messy potty cleanups. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to tending to a newborn human; however, it’s certainly not like raising a beta fish. But with two adorable pups like June and Cash, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We may no longer be a wholesome group of three, but this pack of four is pretty damn cute.
More stories to come, I’m sure of it.
Barbara Platts is the proud mother of two adorable pups, but no humans. Not right now. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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