Nala Chronicles – In the Beginning

We have a dog that we like to paddle around with and I think it’s time we told you a little about her. She’s a cropped-tailed Rott-Shepherd mix and her name is Nala.

She started off as an Easter bunny (more on that later) but has since turned into a loyal family dog, as protective as they come, and for the most part well behaved. Yeah, I’ll concede she’s not always obedient, but what she lacks in training, she makes up for in personality, and sometimes personality can take you a long way.

She arrived into our lives right around the time we began to spend more and more time outdoors, and over the last five years, we’ve watched her mature into the role of a good camp dog, but that didn’t come without its fair share of mistakes and failures, and we wanted to record some of those stories, as well as the success stories, and what better way to do that than by starting a new series that we’re going to call the Nala Chronicles. I’m not exactly sure where the story line will ultimately take us, only that there’ll be lots of Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish as we try to figure it out.

Technically speaking, she wasn’t supposed to be a dog. It was a bunny we were after, having seen the Bunnies for Sale sign on the side of the road while driving to visit family in East Texas. One look at the sign and my wife decided it’d be a good idea to bring her nephew’s children an Easter bunny. We needed to pick up a few things at the store anyway, so we pulled into the parking lot and headed for the pickup truck that was selling the bunnies out of the truck bed. But a quick call to our nephew put an end to that plan.  

“If you guys bring a rabbit,” he told his aunt, “It’s going to be dinner.”

I guess they eat a lot of rabbit in East Texas.

We stopped to look at the bunnies anyway, and as we held the small rabbits, my daughter walked over to her mom holding a fat, fur ball of a pup, barely bigger than her hands. The dog had dark eye and a skunk-like line running down the length of her face. I could also see the pup was missing part of its tail.

In one word, she was ugly.

I saw my wife put the bunny down and take a long look at the pup, and then she said something, but because I was still distracted with the rabbits, I admit I might not have heard her very well. It sure seemed, though, like she said, “Okay with me, but go ask your dad.”

I wasn’t surprised, mind you. We’d been talking about getting a companion dog for Sumi, our Japanese mutt who was getting older now, and so there been some talk lately about getting another dog.

Suddenly, my daughter walked over to me with the puppy, and as best I can remember, she said,“Mom says we can get this pup if you’re okay with it…here, Dad, hold her.” 

She handed me the small fur ball, and as I looked the puppy over, I thought to myself that she was even uglier up close. But it was obvious that my daughter was somehow smitten with the pup, and we had been talking about getting another dog, but this was NOT what I had in mind. She must have read my mind.

“Dad, this is a great puppy, and you guys have been saying for months that you want another dog,” she implored.

I admit that sometimes I’m a softy. “Okay,” I said, “As long as your mom likes her, then I’m good too.”

“Thanks, dad. Can I have ten dollars?”

“For what?”

“The puppy costs $10.”

As I pulled the money from my wallet, I was thinking to myself that they should be paying us to take the ugly pup off their hands. Maybe the dog would grow out of it.

The remaining hour drive to our nephew’s house was occupied by two things the first being a butt chewing from my wife for agreeing to get the dog.“What were you thinking,” she asked?

“You told her we could get the puppy if I agreed,” I replied, “So I agreed.”

The she called me gullible.

But the tongue lashing only lasted few minutes and then we got down to the business of naming the new dog. She was my daughter’s pup, at least that was our understanding of things back then, so we let her name the dog, and as we drove through the countryside, she came up with several names, some of which we tossed around and debated in the car. Soon there was a short list of names and then from those, my daughter made her decision.

“I think her name will be Nala,” she proclaimed. And Nala it was. Pretty name; ugly dog.

Later that night, I sent my son a photo of the new puppy and informed him that his sister had a new dog.

He replied back quickly, “You let her get that?”

Yes…we did.

Lone Star Chronicles – Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Fish

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