Two years and two days ago, we headed to the shelter to get ourselves an early birthday present. We were finally in a place where we could handle having a dog, and didn’t want to wait until our actual birthdays to start looking.
So off we went to the shelter, and you were exactly what we didn’t think we’d want. Your daddy wanted an 8 week old pup, and your momma wanted a 6 month to 1 1/2 year old dog who would start calming down sooner. I agreed to look at puppies anyway.
If we found the perfect dog on our first shot, so be it, and if not, we’d keep looking while we sorted out what we wanted. We’d looked on the shelter website before we went, and your daddy thought you looked like a rat-dog in your picture. Sorry bud, but you did.
The lady at the desk asked us what type of dog we were looking for as she led us to the puppy room, and we were left to look at a row of puppies behind gates. How do you choose from a couple dozen squirming puppies of various ages?
We somehow chose 3 to meet outside of their kennels and realized the youngest one was just too young for us. The next one, also younger than you, seemed like he had no independence. You, Mr. Master of Trickery, were one of the dogs not gnawing on the metal wires of your kennel gate.
You were 4 1/2 months old, interested in us, and wanted attention but also seemed independent and interested in sniffing the fresh breeze. We both knew that you were our dog.
Since you still needed to get your rabies shot, microchip, and be spayed, we had to wait two days to take you home.
(“Wait, the name was Valentino, shouldn’t he be neutered?” “Nope, it’s a female. Anything can happen with names around here.”)
I was torn to pieces on the way home, because picturing you, you reminded me of my previous sweet black and tan.
Of all the different colors of dogs, did we really have to get a black and tan like the one I’d had to let go of the previous year?
Your dad picked you up from a clinic where they said you were neutered. We hadn’t been paying attention to gender so much as personality when we chose you, but sure enough, you were a boy. We didn’t like your girl name for a boy dog.
I rushed home from work to see you, and we threw out names for you as you ran around our apartment.
Somehow, we went from Bandit to Gambit and knew that was your name. Now this seems somewhat appropriate since one of your favorite playmates at the park is Bandit.
As you grew up, you ended up looking and acting nothing like Daisy. You challenged us more than we thought you could. You were a master power chewer and man of independence.
You learned the things you understood the point of in minutes, and resisted learning pointless doggie parlor tricks, even though you very clearly indicated that you knew what was being asked of you.
Remember learning shake and high five? You thought they were the stupidest dog tricks that ever did exist, but learned leave it in 5 minutes without the use of treats.
Let’s face it, you still give me the stink eye when I ask for a high five, then give me the world’s most sarcastic and unenthusiastic high five.
That master trickery of yours honed our troubleshooting skills because darn it, you insisted that you were too smart and stubborn for many typical training tricks to work.
Despite your intelligence, that nose of yours could make your brain switch straight to the off position.
You kept me active and became the dog that went everywhere with me – frequent lake trips, friends’ homes before we could trust you alone for hours, downtown, Bowman Field, Stumphouse Tunnel, and the boardwalk.
Your cuteness inspired your grandmom to book an Outer Banks vacation so she could see you while you were still little and when your grandad walked “his dog” you were the best and most obedient puppy in the world ever did see.
After just a few months, you even influenced us to look into fostering more dogs. While fostering was yet another challenge, you’ve enjoyed your foster siblings and so have we.
Happy adoptiversary, Gambino! Now then, I better cave in to those judgmental eyes and get your breakfast before you start inventing any more noises.