The Cheyenne Story - part 1 - It was inevitable...:
I always knew we would eventually have a dog. Stephanie is a huge dog-lover from way back. In fact, one of our first dates was to the dog show at the old Donnelly Hall by McCormick Place. It was pretty tough to go, though, because she was still grieving over the loss of her dog Niki, an elderly malamute, from her previous marriage. She never quite knew what happened to Niki. Her ex said that he gave Niki to a family when they broke up, but since Niki was not a young pup at the time, it's quite possible that she had to be put to sleep and the ex was trying to spare her the grief that goes along with that. Whatever the case, the dog show was difficult because every so often Stephanie's eyes would tear up and she would smile and talk about wanting to hug each and every dog there, even the big drooly sheepdog that had to wear a bib when he was not in the ring.
We had a couple dogs when I was a kid, but I don't think that I was ever really attached to them. We got Ruff when I was in third grade. I don't have much memory of him, because that was so long ago, but I remember running around in the yard with him and I fell down and he bit my ear. He didn't stay around too long after that.
The other dog we had was Sam. Funny story about Sam: we got Sam from Korvettes on Cicero, and I remember bringing home this scared little pup in the back seat of the car. After a couple months, and after Sam learned how to jump the gate and get out in front of the house, we found spots of blood on the ground. Thinking there was some wound due to the fence-jumping, we took Sam to the vet and found that Sam was actually a girl! I don't feel to funny about that, because I was pretty young and never thought to look, but my folks must have been pretty embarrassed. Now that I think about it, she must not have been to the vet before that, or I'm pretty sure they would have noticed. Anyway, I wonder if this caused her any confusion during her life, because we just rechristened her Samantha, but had trouble keeping the gender pronouns correct: "Where's Sam?", "Oh, he's outside, I mean she's outside."
Sam was not the cuddliest dog in the world, and she really grew to be Mom's dog. I was at the age where it was a chore to take the dog out, and take care of her. I regret this now, but at the time, I was developing from a gawky, nebbishy adolescent into a gawky, nebbishy teenager, and then into a less-gawky, computer nerd of a man. It was nice that she was happy to see us, but mostly she seemed to keep to herself.
So I continued my growing-up. I fell in love with Stephanie, a co-worker at Dominick's, and eventually moved in together, "living in sin" as some friends joked. We married, changed jobs, and generally enjoyed our lives. But there was always this love of dogs that permeated our existence. If we were watching something taped off of TV, for instance, and as we fast-forwarded through the commercials there was something with a dog, we would stop, rewind, watch the commercial with the dog, and continue on. We would try to watch the Westminster Kennel Club dog show every year, and would enjoy going to visit friends that had dogs. But we never really discussed getting a dog. We both were very busy with our jobs, and we lived in a small apartment with no yard, so the topic never came up.
Except one time: we were coming home from somewhere, I don't remember where, and we were on the ramp from the Dan Ryan expressway to the Stevenson, and we passed a dog walking on the shoulder of the road. Now this is a raised expressway and over the concrete wall there was nothing but a several-story drop to the ground. The last exit had to be maybe a half-mile back, and since traffic was light, the cars were really zipping by. Stephanie said something like "Oh, we've got to do something...", of course meaning me. I stopped the car at the split in the road and got out. It was cold and windy and a little scary with all the cars going by. I crossed to the other shoulder, which was really no more than maybe four feet wide, and headed back to where we saw the dog, who was walking away from me. He was a good size dog, but I didn't recognize the breed. He was staying on the shoulder area, and when I called to him, he looked at me and picked up his pace. I tried to catch up to him, but he got to the exit ramp and turned the corner, and I figured that he was safe so I went back to the car. I was thinking how silly this was, how I was potentially risking my life, and wondering what exactly I would do with this big wet dog if I got him back to the car. When I got back in and told Stephanie what had happened, she said something under her breath like "Well, I missed my chance." At that point, I figured a dog was somewhere in our future.
On to part 2 -->
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