CINDERELLA - IN THE NAME OF THE SPOTS
My wife, Nurcan, was somewhat particular as a young thing. When we first met, and I had at some point mentioned that I had three roommates (all cats) - okay, this may well have been the wrong "sales technique" (but perhaps talking about "my cats", "my cats" and "my cats" was not quite as common as talking about "my house", "my boat" and "my car" - she looked peeved and asked me if it wasn't somewhat unsanitary to have so many cats in the apartment...
My detailed lecture, about how exposure to a certain amount of germs and dirt is actually good for the immune system, about how the body, to a certain degree, even requires exposure to germs and about how this is likely the reason why I hardly ever get sick, was possibly the wrong approach for trying to convince her of my point of view. It did not even help to make the slight look of disgust and astonishment disappear from her face.
But seriously now, I mean three cats - that's nothing - compared to my dream of owning a house somewhere out in the country, where lots and lots of things would be going on - where alongside my horse, geese and pigs could run around and maybe even a kangaroo or two could madly play about. (Yes, it's true, we really do have kangaroos, lamas and ostriches in our neighbourhood - naturally, they are not left to roam freely.)
But woman who already rebells against three cats? Bah! I thought to myself, if a woman is already that squeamish from the start, then there was no point of experimenting further. And so, I started looking around again ;-).
Somehow - I don't know whether she subsequently went to therapy, enrolled in a survivial training course on "How to Live Together with Animals", or participated in a similar such thing *ggg*, at any rate, we oddly enough did come to an agreement about a year or two later.
Through natural fluctuations, the cat count at that time sank from three to two (Mischu and Strolchi - whom you may have already met on this site). Strange as it may be - who would have believed it - it turned out to be Nurcan who suddenly one day decided to contribute a little kitten - our little Quark
(women and their maternal instinct: "look, it's soooo cute... ").
In time, Quark developed into splendid feline who - hardly even being a teenager yet - and in a moment of thoughtlessness - had lost her innocence to a tom cat. This naturally led to her getting something else: her escapade, as you can well imagine, did have its consequences. Suddenly, in a wondrous way my two cats, had turned into seven!
Actually an unbelievable "synergy effect", when you consider that by adding 50% cat, in only a short time, you end up with a 350% increase in the cat population count.
It did not take long for us to realize, that such unchecked growth had certain disadvantages and also required structural changes - multiple cat litters, a battery of feeding bowls, etc., etc.,. We therefore knew, that we definitely needed a massive reduction of our cat population count. In order to do this, McKenzie advised us (as usual), to turn to an appropriate outplacement program for help.
After successfully completing our cat reduction measures, we continued to maintain a constant cat count of four.
But it seemed that we had fewer since one or the other was seemingly always "on tour" (probably collecting mice or such thing), while the others were sleeping peacefully, curled up in a ball somewhere.
It was Christmas time again. For years now, Nurcan had been listening to me ecstatically call out to every dog that I would pass.br>
We knew however, that we would never have a dog because, even though she had changed her mind about animals in general, she held very strong reservations about dogs. This was due to the fact my scaredy-cat was afraid of them!
My constant chatter year after year about "this dog over here" and "that dog over there" did leave its mark on Nurcan.
My latest "attack" came in the form of a cup while we were giving out Christmas presents - the cup must have been the last straw for Nurcan and, in the end, must have been responsible for the breakthrough.
Who, I ask, could have resisted the cute Dalmatian pup decoration (this is not to say that I absolutely wanted a Dalmatian per se) on the cup?
The exact course of events that followed resulted in a great rush of adrenaline surging throughout my body. Somehow - you know it was Christmas time - Nurcan, all of a sudden, gave me the green light in the form of a passing comment like "well, alright, if you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO HAVE such a dog, then... ".
I could not have been more surprised than if I had been attending a funeral and the corpse had suddenly and discreetly emitted a small belch - the subsequent silence that followed her comment was like the kind of silence that exists only in an absolute vacuum. I was now contemplating the unbelievable and thinking about what her words, that she had voiced so unexpectantly, meant. It was as if I had been hit by lightning or I had been turned into stone. After a few seconds, I turned around to her and asked very slowly: "what, what did you say? ".
No, I had not misheard. Incredible. How could this be? A real dog? I just couldn't believe it. You too might be familiar with the situation where you hear certain words but you can't quite grasp their meaning emotionally because their meaning, seem to be in the realm of the impossible.
My initial scepticism and confusion however disappeared almost in an instant and were replaced with feelings of euphoria and a never before sense of hectic. I, of course, no longer had any thoughts about Christmas. The only important thing for me at that moment was to keep a clear head, to act quickly, to make decisions of tremendous consequence and to solve logistical problems!|
The key question to my survival now was: where do I get a dog RIGHT AWAY, RIGHT NOW? There was no time to hesitate, if you know what I mean. After waiting for 30 long years, I could not risk losing this opportunity!
But wait. The small detail of exactly WHAT type of dog it should be first had to be considered! Leaving only a cloud of dust in my wake, I immediately disappeared behind my computer. Thank God, that there is such a thing as the Internet.
I wanted to have a look to see exactly what different types of dog breeds there were. In my mind's eye, I already had some definitive ideas about what types of attributes the dog should possess:
The main problem was, that there were just too many choices plus I was also under severe time pressure.... Of course, in such a short period of time, I was not able to review all of the material about the various different types of dog breeds available nor absorb all of the relevant information as well as evaluate each type accordingly.
the dog should like children and cats|
it shouldn't be too small or too big
it should like horses
it should have a friendly disposition
After searching the Internet for close to four hours, I did it, in the end, narrow my choice down to two different breeds - a white German Shepherd and a Dalmatian.
For a number of reasons, we decided on the Dalmatian because, in comparison to a white German Shepherd, a Dalmatian's pelt was short-haired and thus practically self-cleansing.
Oh dear, four hours had already passed and it was now evening! Where in the name of God could one get a Dalmatian at this hour, and on Christmas day? (At that time, I had not yet heard of the Humane Society.)
There was not a moment to lose- my wife and I rushed off to the closest town in order to purchase all of the Swiss dog magazines that were available for sale at the train station. But there was a problem. After thorough study and after making several telephone calls (the poor people must have wondered what was going on since it was already quite late), the terrible truth came to light - there were no Dalmatian puppies to be had anywhere.
How could this be? Switzerland may be a small country but there had to be one, just one little Dalmatian for me out there somewhere!
I was not ready to give up yet however! Taking advantage of the blessing of advanced technology, I once again started to search the Internet!
Yet another time-consuming attempt to find Dalmatians - and pups. There were absolutely no limits to my creativity in looking through the search engines and with the nose of a hunter, reviewing all of the links with a fine toothed comb.
And finally - with beads of sweat on my forehead and a "smoking" keyboard - I had actually managed to discover two promising puppy leads.
The only question that remained was whether or not one could still call at this hour of the night? I convinced myself that I could! I had thought to myself, who would go to bed early on Christmas.... Now, I only had to hope that the people I wanted to contact had not decided to go away during the holidays or such other thing.
I had worried for nothing: I had really found two promising leads. Both breeders resided in Germany - which meant, that we had to take certain things into consideration (such as the uncomfortable question as to whether one could simply bring a small puppy across the border) - but I was willing to take the risk. Furthermore, at that moment, I was willing to travel around the entire world, and right away, if it meant that I was going to get a dog!
Appointments were made with both breeders for the following day - I did not have the courage to ask whether we could come that night.
The fact that we had to wait a night, provided us with some time to get our apartment ready: everything that could possibly be chewed or scratched was locked away or was placed out of a dog's reach. Then, we proceeded to get ready for the drive. But what if the poor puppy did not like driving in a car? What if the dog was to get sick on the way? Can dogs, like humans, also suffer from motion sickness? Water containers were filled and a basket with provisions was packed.
I don't recall now whether or not I managed to get any sleep that night. I could still not believe that my dream of having a dog of my own was about to be realized. It all seemed unreal somehow!
Luckily, the morning came quickly which meant, that I was getting closer to the dog I had been longing for. What would he be like? Would he like living with us? Would he get along with the cats?
Our travel route was strategically planned so that we would be able to visit both of the breeders on the same day. I should mention though, that I had a bit of a strange feeling about the conversation I had with the second breeder and therefore, placed all of my hopes on our visit to the first one.
We still have one, indicated the breeder on the telephone. I was sceptical - only one? How come? This could only mean that the dog was possibly a "non-seller". But who could be choosy in this situation?
On snowy December 26th, after travelling through half of Germany, we arrived in Satteldorf. It was very rural and peaceful there, almost like at home.
I could hardly wait for the doors at the breeder's to open and for them to let us in so that we could sit on couch and, with pounding hearts, await our Christmas present.
And in came the small spotted whirlwind. He didn't strike me as a potential "non-seller" at all. He was so cute! And, he seemed to like me right away - his front paws were already on my knees and his tongue was in my face!
I just melted when the small Dalmi then proceeded to press his head against my chest. Yes, he had pressed his small, cute pup snout close to me - as if he wanted to crawl inside of me.
Just as my heart was going to burst from sheer happiness and I moved to stroke his head, my hand suddenly grasped into thin air - this doggy, after having achieved his mission, triumphantly and proudly ran away with the pack of cigarettes that had been put in the inside pocket of my jacket....
Well, so this was Cinderella. Sassy, fearless and proud! And naturally always ready to surprise. It was true, Cinderella had been a "return", purchased "on warranty" so to speak. No, seriously - she had already spent a short time with a woman who, for vocational reasons, was later required to return the dog again.
Well, although being told of this fact did set off some alarm bells in my head, in the end, I knew that Dalmatian puppies were a rare find on this day. Moreover, the puppy seemed just fine (with the exception of its evident kleptomaniac tendencies).
And his environment seemed to be fine too - when getting a dog, one should always (best also to show up unannounced) pay attention to the dog's living conditions. If I remember correctly, they also had a cat, a horse and even a lama in the stall!
What could be better than to get such a sweet dog, that already knew something about cats and horses? For this reason, we came to an agreement with the breeder right away. Even though there were no guarantees, I had nevertheless decided not to continue on to visit the second breeder. This was primarily because I did not feel like driving further through Germany and also because of the impression that I had had, that the second breeder was not the best of the two.
We had absolutely no problems with Cinderella during our drive back. The small Dalmatian dog even seemed to take an exceptional liking to driving. At that time, Cindy was still moderate in her need for space - and so she was able to - with the exception of pee breaks - enjoy the ride, curled up on top of my wife's knees.
What kind of papers did one require when one took a dog from one country into another? The closer we came to reaching customs, the more nervous I got. How awful, I thought, if we would have to turn around again. Of course, there were also other border passes in Switzerland but we did not want to try the patience of this brave dog (and her ours).
We did of course have the dog's breeding papers, but would they do? Did one perhaps need to get special vaccinations for the dog, or was there a quarantine? Did one have to pay duty on dogs? I had no idea about such things.
With a - or so I hoped - relaxed expression on my face, we reached the Swiss customs. In the meantime, little Cindy had been, to her surprise, moved to the foot area on the passenger's side. What did I have to worry about? Surely hundreds of dogs crossed the border every day without any difficulty, or so I told myself. We slowly approached the customs officer who was waiting for us and looking us over with a distrusting look and with squinting eyes. Oh dear, he can probably read thoughts. And he has X-ray eyes! Oh dear, we would undoubtedly be arrested for dog smuggling and Cinderella would have to be given to an animal shelter!
But the hand of the law went up in the air somewhere, instead of to the gun holster. What did he want? Was he calling for backup? Was he calling for a dog detector? Only when Nurcan looked at me meaningfully did I realize that he was signalling for us to proceed. We had made it! We were back in our homeland!
Nothing else could happen now - no one could take the dog away from us. Oh, how beautiful life was! My dream had finally been realized - and sat in the form of incarnated spots on Nurcan's lap. One was even able to touch it - sometimes it even panted - so the dream must be real!
Now we finally had the chance to deal with the last remaining details. For example, how one would inform the nice people at the bank at which Nurcan worked that she would not be showing up there so much anymore after the holidays were over *ggg*....
How the story continues and more about Cindy the spotted "monster", will be available here soon.