Rumble and Me: A Story of Love, Loss and Puppies

Rumble & meI’ve always wanted a dog. Even in my younger days when I lived at home and my little sister begged my mother for a pet and we received a cat, I wanted a dog. Maybe it was the notion of a canine being “man’s best friend.” Maybe it’s because I really, really liked White Fang when I was a kid. Or maybe, it’s because for all intensive purposes, it’s because I thought having a dog would simply be awesome. This past September, I turned wishful thinking into reality when Rumble, my Alaskan Klee Kai came into my life. But Rumble’s arrival was more than of just me checking off an item from my bucket list. No, he was the culmination of several events.
Some of those events stemmed from boyhood wishful thinking, while others (and perhaps the most compelling) come from the realities of being a man in his late 20s, living in the post-Obama era and staring down the impending barrel of a pre-mid life crisis where career and my relationship with my (then) girlfriend were what I based happiness upon.  In case you can’t read between the lines, Rumble was my way of coping with a break up from someone, who I had been with for many years. After all, the best way to mend a broken heart isn’t in the arms of another woman – it’s on a long walk to the dog park.

Rewind back to May when the notion of having a dog was as viable as a lucrative career in the print medium. I was at a rooftop BBQ and in between conversation hopping, spotted a dog who, because of her medium size and defined, intelligent-looking features, caught my attention. “I should get a dog,” I quipped to myself.  Sufficed to say, it was one of those moments that were partly fueled by cold beer and the warm sun, and so naturally, it sounded brilliant. I asked the owner about the dog and the breed and all he could tell me is that it was a rescue from Puerto Rico and he’d had her for only a short while. I mused to my friend Va$htie that I wish there were huskies (the closest thing to a legal White Fang I could fathom) that were small enough to comfortably enjoy the confines of apartment living. To which she replied, there were, and said dogs were amazing, as she’d seen one. She gave me the name of the breed, I Googled it and was amazed, but chalked it up to wishful thinking and drifted back into my previous conversations.

Not too long after, in the early part of the summer, I found myself single, confused and looking for the right answers in the wrong combinations of Ketel One, vermouth and olive juice. Despite the humidity and smell of hot garbage as it cooks on the sidewalk, summer in New York City has always been one of my favorite parts of the year. But when the rain in the early part of the season became annoyingly relentless, I found myself reclusive and perhaps out of boredom and not wanting to deal with the incessant question of “Are you okay?” (in regards to my recent break up) from friends and family, began to research the breed that Va$htie endorsed. For weeks, I contacted breeders, shelters, browsed forums, spoke to friends who had dogs and on several occasions found myself perusing the pet section of my local book store. I was contemplating the reality of me – a member of a generation whose focus shifted every time Nike dropped a new Air Max 90 colorway – raising a dog. Sans putting it through college, it would be essentially like raising a kid, right?

After a few emails with a breeder who had some puppies available, I applied to adopt a handsome Alaskan Klee Kai puppy; was approved, and after the finances were settled, waited patiently to my dog’s arrival. I prepared, bought everything that I was told a puppy would need  (crate, toys, food, blankets) and puppy-proofed my house. Some of my friends applauded the idea. Some thought I should have gotten a gold fish.

Rumble & Me 2 In September, Rumble arrived. I went with my cousin to pick him up from the airport. I placed him on my lap and he looked at me the entire car ride home. He was scared. I was too. At three and half months old and weighing in at a whopping nine pounds and a (what I thought was going to be) permanent “sad face” Rumble, the result of a wishful thinking, meticulous planning and an attempt to mend hurt feelings, had entered my life. I carried him into my apartment, showed him his crate, gave me him food and water. He darted around the dwelling, sniffing and inspecting his new digs. I smiled at him with admiration. This was my dog and even though he didn’t know it – he was going to make everything better.  Then he peed on my rug and chewed through my copy of Puppies for Dummies. The first night with Rumble was tumultuous to say the least. He didn’t know his name, he didn’t know his environment and he certainly didn’t know me. He cried and barked when I left the room where I put his crate. I spent most of the first night awake by his crate trying to ease him into his new life.

But all of that changed when we went for our first walk.

Rumble was remarkably good the first time he was a on a leash. He walked gingerly and stopped when I stopped. He received loads of attention. People did double takes. He became a neighborhood favorite. He never left my side. Soon enough we developed a routine and rapport with each other. We took long trips to the park, explored the neighborhood and found new outlets of entertaining ourselves. A discarded stick became the catalyst for hours of activity.  But most importantly, home wasn’t filled with the deafening silence that had to be drowned out by the television. Even at his worst moments – like when he ate my brand new Blackberry – Rumble still remains, and will always be my best friend.

Not to mention, he’s a pretty good ice-breaker.

– Shahendra Ohneswere

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