For those of you who have only known me (and my dogs!) in Iowa, this is NOT Molly. This is Plato. Plato Platypus, to be exact…he was an AKC registered cocker spaniel (that was before I realized that the P-O-U-N-D is a good place to get a dog!). Plato was the first dog I had as an adult. I’m not sure we were even in our first house two weeks before we got him. Both my husband and I were pretty excited about getting a dog. We already had the house…the dog was the next step…then kids. We were truly settling down.
We answered an ad in the newspaper and chose Plato from a litter of 4-5 dogs. We named him Plato because we already had a Socrates. This was Socrates:
Socrates was Plato’s mentor in Ancient Greece as well as our house.
My husband and I were really into being dog owners, so we did the whole obedience thing with Plato. In fact, we BOTH went to obedience classes with him. And he learned quickly. He was one smart dog!
He was so smart that one day I was working in my office…my oldest son was 18-22 months old at this time. And even at 18 months, my son was really good at entertaining himself while I wrote. There was a little crawl space closet (with a child-sized door) in the room I used for an office. We put up dry-erase board for walls and told our son that he could draw on the walls in there, but he was much more interested in playing with all his Fisher Price sets than in drawing on the walls. He could play with those Fisher Price sets for HOURS. So it worked well. I could see him easily from my desk…and he ALWAYS just sat there and played…until the day he didn’t.
All of a sudden Plato was standing in the doorway, sort of dancing around, running out of the room, then running back in. He clearly wanted me to go with him. I thought he just needed to go outside, so I got up from my desk…and noticed my son wasn’t playing in that little room. In fact, I wasn’t sure where he was! But Plato was very insistent…he even started barking! So I went to let him out. I opened the back door…and there was my son! Caught between the inside door and the screen door. Yeah, that was a “bad mom” moment…but a “good dog” moment! PLATO knew where my son was, even if I didn’t. That’s the kind of dog Plato was! (He LOVED kids…when my first son was born, he used to sleep under the crib…I could tell he was going to be the kind of dog who always looked out for the kids. Turned out I was right.)
He was also the kind of dog who got into things if we didn’t crate him when we left him home. He didn’t just open the child proof lock on the cabinet under the sink and get into the garbage, he T.P.ed our entire house! He pulled the toilet paper off the roll (and I mean ALL the toilet paper…even if it was practically a brand new roll) and dragged it upstairs and downstairs. We also had to be careful about leaving food out on the table. He wasn’t that big of a dog…but he could get at absolutely ANY food that had been left on the table or on a counter. He was especially fond of bread (like whole loaves of bread!)…and didn’t mind the plastic. I remember one day I backed out of the garage and realized I had forgotten to lock him up, so I went back in. In the two minutes I’d been gone, he managed to get up onto the table and devour what had been a brand new, unopened loaf of bread. There were only about two pieces left. He never did these things when we were home…it was only if we left.
When we moved from the Twin Cities to Rochester, it didn’t even occur to us to give him away…even though we weren’t going to be able to get a new house until we sold our old house. Fortunately, we had a Realtor who had a friend who lived on a farm. The friend was willing to board our dogs (yeah, we actually had two of them at this point…I’ll tell you about Alycia in the next entry) until we could take them again. If he had known it was going to take us SIX MONTHS to sell our house in the Twin Cities, I wonder if he would’ve been willing to do it? Even though we went to visit our dogs regularly, by the time we were ready to take them back, Plato especially, wasn’t sure he wanted to come back. I remember how he sat by the front door of our new house and looked so forlorn…like he was wondering if we were ever going to take him back to his “real” people? I think our taking Plato back was hard on the guy on the farm, too. He’d gotten pretty attached in those six months. I felt a little bad about that…but not bad enough to offer to let him keep Plato.
So…when it came time to move to Iowa four years later, my husband thought it would be better all around to give the dogs away. We didn’t know anyone in Iowa…there were no long-term boarding places…and who knew how long it would be before we could get a house of our own again? I have to admit I wasn’t very happy about moving to Iowa…I didn’t know anyone there. And I LOVED Rochester. I had a life there. So moving was bad enough…giving up my dogs just about did me in. But the good news is…Plato is about 23 years old now (that’s 161 in dog years) and still romping and playing with his new owners, who SWORE to me they would take good care of him. I believed them. I’m sure they’re still taking good care of him. See, when you give a dog away, the dog never really even ages, much less dies.