The Day Opie Came Home


My wife and I have been wanting a dog for years, but, because of our work, we just didn’t have the time to commit what we thought was needed to raise a healthy and happy pup.

I’m a school teacher. I teach English as a second language to elementary school kids here in Japan. I am the first and second-grade teacher. The kids are awesome! Anyway, last year I decided that I wasn’t going anywhere staying where I was, so, I resigned my full-time position down to part-time and started my own language school out of my house. I hate to say that I haven’t expanded as much as I would have liked over the past 2 years, but, I won’t give up. Anyway, with my new position at the school I only teach a few hours in the morning, then I’m back home by 1:00 in the afternoon. So, we decided to move ahead with the addition of a pup.

From the beginning, a Toy Poodle was the only option for us. My family has been Toy Poodles for as long as I can remember. My last 2 dogs were black female toys. This time around, what did I want? A black female toy. So, we head out with all the local pet shops mapped out. The very first place we went to, there was Opie, a red male. Totally not what I wanted. For my wife, this would be her first dog. I told her before we went shopping “Don’t just jump on the first cute thing you see. The dog that belongs with us will speak to us in some way. Keep your eyes open. When you feel that connection, that’s the one.” So there’s Opie. I asked the lady if I could hold him and she brought him out. I fell in love with him on the spot, but in the back of my head, I had a black female. I was willing to concede the color, but not the sex. I told this to the lady at the shop and said we would pass on Opie, and we left. We went around to various shops, and even came across quite a few black females, but I couldn’t get Opie out of my head. None of these other pups were really getting to me. A few days later I said to my wife, let’s go back to that first shop, so we did. We went in and Opie was still there. I got him out again and played with him for a bit. The problem we were looking at now was the price.

The first day we met Opie he was on sale for roughly 500 dollars. It was the weekend and they choose certain dogs to put on half-price sale on the weekends. Well, Opie was back to a thousand dollars. Remember I told you that my business hasn’t taken off as I had expected? Yeah, can’t really afford a grand for a dog. I asked the lady if he would be on sale again and she said she didn’t know, it was up to the head office. I jokingly told her to call them and tell them he should be on sale. We played around with him a bit more and then left with the thought in mind that the sale wouldn’t happen. This was a Monday. Anyway, on Thursday I said to my wife “Let’s go back to that shop just to look. They may get the impression that we’re serious and put him on sale again. Bottom line is that this is a business and they need to move stock. Kind of cold to think of it like that, but facts are facts. Anyway, if they see that we’re serious, they may do something. So we go back, walk in, the first words out of the lady’s mouth were “Do you want to hold him?” and she went and brought him out. I played with him for a few minutes then I asked her “What about the price?” she smiled and gave us the universal “OK” sign. I gave my wife the keys and sent her to the bank to get the money.

The shop had one request for us. Opie had a slight bit of dandruff and they wanted to keep him for a week to shampoo, brush, etc… to see if they could get rid of the flakes. We said OK. That following week we were going to the pet shop every single day to spend time with him. We’d go up about 45 minutes or an hour before closing time and sit on the sofa playing with our new boy. We had already named him so we figured going to the shop every day to see him, using his name, letting him get used to us being around, etc… etc… may ease his transition when we finally took him home……and of course we were just head over heels in love with him and wanted to spend as much time with him as we could.

We were scheduled to pick him up on a Sunday morning when they opened at 10:30. That Friday before, my wife was working late and couldn’t go to the shop so I went on my own. While I was there they asked me if we could delay pickup until around 2:00 when all of the relative networks would be online. I wasn’t too happy about that, but what could I do. We’ve waited this long, a few more hours won’t hurt.

Sunday comes and we go to pick him up. It was a 3-hour process of them checking us, filling out papers, getting counseled on owning a dog, blah blah blah blah blah. Finally, they needed to send an email to my wife’s phone so she could confirm something. They sent it and it never came through. Sent it again and it didn’t come through. By this time I’m at my limit, I just want to get out of there. I slap the table and said “We’re done!!! Send whatever you have to send by snail mail, we’re going home” and we wrapped things up and headed out.

We got here to the house and introduced Opie to his new home, his cage, his water bottle, food bowl, toys, etc… We played around with him for a bit then my wife had to go to her mother’s house and she left me with the boy. Opie and I played around for a bit and then I realized that he really should get some sleep so I put him in his cage and then I lied down next to it and put my finger through the bars. He was exhausted. He laid down right in front of me, slowly put his head down on the towel, with his nose up against my finger, and he slowly crept off to la la land. I stayed there with him for a good half hour until my wife came home. I motioned for her to be quiet when she came in. She crept into the room and sat down with us and, having the three of us together in this quiet moment, I just fell to pieces crying. I’m not exactly sure what it was. I guess it was a culmination of everything that had happened and finally having him here, knowing that he’s in a loving home and not in that tiny little viewing box at the pet shop. Knowing that he’s going to be spoiled to death and never have to worry about having a family that loves him. I literally cried like a baby. I couldn’t turn the tears off, hell, I’m getting watery eyed now just thinking about it.

Anyway, that’s the story of the day Opie came home. He has been such a great addition to this house. My wife and I have a strange relationship in that we’ve been together close to 20 years and are still on our honeymoon. We do everything together. We’re best friends. I swear to God I can count on both hands how many arguments we’ve been in over the past 2 decades. We just don’t fight. I’m guessing it’s because we never had kids. We’ve been able to devote our time to each other without any distractions. Opie has ramped our lives up a billion percent. I’m really glad he’s here.

Y’all come back, I’ll leave the light on for ya.



ex-pat American living in Japan since 1991. Love to play guitar and billiards. Love my Cincinnati Bengals too. Who-Dey!!
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