One look at my new niece and I knew that we were getting a dog.
We’d done the research, owned the training books, made the lists—pro and con.
So on the day Baby Becca came home from the hospital weighing some seven and half pounds, we drove to a breeder near Racine, WI and returned with a three-month-old, twenty-nine pound baby of our own.
“What should we name him?” I asked my husband as I pulled out my journal and turned to the list of Possible Dog Names.
“Reverend,” Tony said.
“I don’t think so…Reverend? Really?”
“Reverend, or we are not getting a dog.”
There are few things that my husband really, truly gets to decide, so I said…
“Ok, but we are going to call him Rev. Rev seems like a good name for a Vizsla.”
Although we didn’t meet Rev (formally Red Boy) until he was a quarter of a year old and weighed as much as my daughter, in a way, I had known him since birth.
My best friend’s family had committed to their pup (Yellow Girl, now Ruby) on the day she was born, and they had visited her at the breeder’s every two weeks until she came home with them when she two months. Sarah had sent me lots of pictures during those first few weeks.
In all of the them, Red Boy was our favorite. He had a little white spot on his neck and on his chest, a kink in his tail, and, as we would come to learn, a soft, sweet personality that matched his big-pawed, droopy-eyed, lover-boy look.
Now we are almost a month in, and Rev is everything I had hoped for in Vizsla: highly energetic, smart and Velcro (where I go, he goes). Somehow, even when he weights 60 pounds, I’m confident he will find a way to sit in my lap.
Before we got Rev, the number one Con on the Con list was: Katy (age 3). Katy, (from all that we had observed) did NOT like dogs.
After we got Rev, the number one Pro on the Pro list was: Katy. Katy LOVES her dog (and other dogs more now, too).
Her little brother was quick to jump on the “I love Rev” bandwagon, and for the first few weeks, every time I took Rev out to potty, the kids came too—turning a simple pee pee into a full blown production—it takes a lot of work to go outside with two toddlers and a big baby dog who for days insisted on being carried across the threshold when if was ten below (it was).
Now, even if the kids don’t come outside, upon our return from potty time they both yell out: “Did he go?”
As dog owners, it is fitting that we want to read more dog books, and I’ll get to some our favorites in future posts.
But today, in honor of Rev, and in particular how much my daughter has come to love him, I want to write about a lion.
How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens (Henry Holt and Company, 2012) was my daughter’s Christmas book this year. I found it in a list of Kirkus starred reviews and “Looked Inside” it on Amazon.
The artwork in general and the lion specifically reminded me of our beloved Snortsnoot in Dooley and the Snortsnoot, and with a three or four-year-old little girl protagonist, I hoped it would be a hit.
How to Hide a Lion begins: “One hot day, a lion strolled into town to buy a hat.”
“But the townspeople were scared of lions, so the lion ran away.”
The lion dashes off and decides to hide in little Iris’s playhouse. When our heroine discovers him there she announces: “‘You can’t hide there…that house is too small for you,’” and it becomes Iris’s mission to hide the lion, who she knows from the beginning is nice, even though everybody else (the townspeople, the media, her parents) believe that, “‘There’s no such thing as a kind lion…All lions will eat you.’”
Because the lion was “too big,” “too fluffy,” and “too heavy, especially when he was asleep,” he is eventually discovered by Iris’s mom.
And then the plot twists and picks up pace.
The lion runs, hides in town, witnesses “burglars” “…who broke into Town Hall and stole every single one of the mayor’s candlesticks…,” catches the burglars, saves the day, and confirms what Iris knew all along: there is such a thing as a nice lion. The lion is rewarded with a hat, “Which was all he’d come to town for in the first place.”
My daughter loves this book as much I as I thought she would and then some.
She loves that Iris puts a Band-Aid on the lion’s paw where “…he had stepped on something sharp.”
She loves that Iris and the lion jump on Iris’s bed, and that on the way down Iris’s hair stands straight up.
She loves the way Iris and the lion stand, alone on one page, Iris hugging the lion because he was “worried.”
Because, my daughter, like most 3-year-olds, is obsessed with Band-Aids, gets daily exercise by jumping on her bed, or mine, and is quickly learning about how full of happiness a pet make her heart.
Almost daily Katy asks me, “Can you believe we have a dog?” (no) and “Are we never going to give him back?” (never).
Rev is here to stay, and I will always be reminded of his arrival in our family when we read How to Hide a Lion.
This post is dedicated to Rhythm the Library Dog—as always—thanks for reading!