My adult life has been enriched by the love of the pets who have lived with me.
Let me introduce my furry kiddos, past and present.
BAILEY & HARRIGAN – their arrival
I will write a separate entry for each girl; however, their adoption night adventure was a bit unique.
The darkness had already settled throughout The Miami Valley that Wednesday night. It was Christmas but I had decided, with Mother’s support, that I should hold off on coming to Indiana as Navi had been killed four days before. Mother said, “As much as I want to see you I don’t think you should leave Chief at this time. We can visit after Christmas.”
Four days of staying almost entirely in bed had taken an emotional and physical toll. I did walk Chief every day, and we even ventured over to Hills & Dales Park for a change of scenery. One of my students, Tristan Bomholt hiked with us and took photos of Chief and me. Whenever there is a change in The Haasienda – a son or pet’s arrival, a son or pet’s departure – the moment is always noted with a family photo of The Haasienda’s new and current occupants. Now, it was just Chief and myself.
Around 9:00 PM, the email notification sounded from my laptop on the hospital bed I’ve used for “working from bed” since 1993.
“Mr. Haas. I understand you are looking for puppies. Please call me at _____ so we can arrange for you to come see them.” The woman included a Craig’s List link.
I sat up in bed. Someone is playing a joke. Yes, I had discussed getting a new companion, mostly for Chief, but that was a private conversation in the middle of Trader Joe’s. I knew she was not messing with me; she knew my heartache.
The phone rang. It was a student’s dad. “Oh, my gosh! I am so sorry that Kevin jumped the gun.”
This family had been with me for a number of years and I had taught all four of their children, Kevin being the youngest and last, now a senior in high school. The older children were all music teachers and Kevin was following their lead, too.
The family had known all my pets since 1998 and they were always so sweet to my furry crews and sons. The family was saddened by Navi’s loss, especially since Navi was Kevin and his mom’s pal on Tuesday nights. While watching television, post Christmas celebrating, a Human Society commercial came on and the dad said the entire room began sniffling.
“Okay. We’re going to divide up a search. What we find, I will take over to Darin on Friday or Saturday to share the info with him.” He assigned all four children, his wife, and himself areas to search for dogs: SICSA, Humane Society, etc.. Kevin was assigned Craig’s List and jumped the gun by contacting the lady with ten puppies!
After speaking with Kevin’s father, I sat up in bed, looked over the link to the puppies that were listed as a mix of beagle and German short-haired pointer. The puppies were adorable.
“Can you come down to look at them tonight? I only have three left and a lady is coming to look at them. Plus, we’re leaving town in the morning.”
I crawled out of bed, dressed, reassured Chief I was coming back, and stepped out into the mild 30 or 40 degree night. I aimed the van southward toward the southeast corner of Taylorsville Road and Lasourdeville Road.
En route, I chatted with Mother on the phone. I explained what I was doing and she got a bit choked up. “Good. You and Chief both need this and a dog needs you.”
She continued to say that my Facebook account was on overload with more than 3,000 comments of sympathy. I had not been on Facebook since the night of Navi’s death. “It reminds me of George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE.”
I pulled into the drive of the dogs’ owners and went to the back of the house as instructed to visit the puppies in the kennel with their mama, the beagle. The lady before me had already taken one puppy so only two remained. One was black and white and none to shy, while the other was the runt, a bit timid (yes, you read that correctly for those who know her), and possessed the beagle genes.
I had already told the lady I had a $50 gift card, the same amount as a puppy. She said it was great because she was an elementary school teacher and no one had given her a gift card that year.
I couldn’t decide between the two females and hated the thought of leaving one all alone.
“Take them both.”
I looked up at the crazy lady. “You said you were a teacher; I am guessing a used car salesman.”
“Your student said you’ve lost two dogs within five months. Maybe these two will soften that blow.”
After a few minutes of inner debate, which was actually probably not more than two seconds, I asked where I might find the nearest ATM to retrieve $50.
“The gift card alone will be fine for both girls. Merry Christmas.”
I returned to the van with a female puppy tucked under each arm. I placed them in a laundry basket I kept in the van to expedite grocery bag loads into the house. As I turned back onto I-75 North, I called Mother.
“Oh, I can hear the puppy.”
Mother laughed, “I see you pulled another Chief and Navi. You went in for one and came out with two. What have you named them?”
I wanted to name one Harrigan in honor of Nedda Harrigan Logan, the wife of my directing mentor, Joshua Logan. Mrs. Logan was the daughter of Edward “Ned” Harrigan, the subject of George M. Cohen’s bouncy song, “Harrigan.” (“H-A-double R – I, GAN spells Harrigan!”)
“What about the other one?” Mother inquired.
“Well…” Then it hit me. “You mentioned George Bailey, earlier. I guess I call the other one, Bailey.”
Thus, The Sisters, Bailey and Harrigan were christened with their new names around the Springboro exit of I-75 North.
I realized The Sisters had been silent for a spell and turned to look over my shoulder. The laundry basket was empty. I panicked, a little, pulled over to the side of the road, turned on my flashers, and flipped on the lights to search for the girls.
Ahhh… a lump caught in my throat. They had crawled out of the laundry basket in the back of the van and were snuggled together right beside my driver’s seat. Already, they knew we were family.
But, there was more family to acknowledge: Chief! How would he handle these two?
After introducing the girls to my neighbor, Mama Kay, I braved myself upon entering The Haasienda.
I stepped inside the house and Chief looked at me from behind the gate. I set The Sisters down so he could sniff them through the gate. They were trying to get through the gate to meet Chief.
Finally, I brought Chief into the front room, The Sisters dancing about him. He observed them for a few seconds before dropping to the floor, wiggling on his back as tiny sisters crawled excitedly over him.
After some “getting to know you” time, I carried The Sisters upstairs, tossing them into the king sized bed which was actually two twin beds fastened together. Before climbing into bed, Chief went over to one of the high backed chairs and nibbed around for something. He came to the bed, bringing each girl a puppy blanket. I had forgotten I washed Flyer’s blankets following her death in July and set them behind the chair, out of sight. But Chief remembered and returned the blankets to use for his new sisters. If either, or both of the puppies got too close to the side of the bed, Chief would grunt; apparently, they got his message and returned to the center of the bed.
The next several days The Haasienda was brimming with visitors who came to meet The Sisters.
My friend, Kate Harrigan, the granddaughter of Joshua Logan and Nedda Harrigan Logan, saw my posted photo introducing Bailey and Harrigan.
“What a clever connection with the two names! I love it.”
Connection? I had made no intended connection in naming them. Perhaps not intended, but there was a remarkable connection.
When Mr. Logan was a student at Princeton University, he was directing a show on campus and was in need of an additional actor. He asked one of his friends, an architect major, to consider doing the role, which he did. The architect major was so taken with performing that he turned his major to acting. That former architect major went on to star as George Bailey in IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE… Jimmy Stewart.
Thus was the arrival of The Sisters, Bailey and Harrigan, easing deep sorrow, building new energy and excitement, and offering me so much joy with their wiggly affection and continued youthful energy.
The Sisters certainly have helped to make it a wonderful life.