I’ve wanted a Dalmatian for as long as I can remember. Our family friends had them growing up and I thought they were the absolute coolest dogs. In addition to being black and white like myself (sorry, I couldn’t resist), they’re incredible — although often stereotyped (typically as aggressive and hyper.) This was in no way my experience with them and I would soon set out on a mission to prove the stereotypes false.
When I finally felt ready to find a Dalmatian of my own five years ago, I quickly realized how hard they are to come by. After several months of searching, I spotted (pun fully intended) a breeder in rural Missouri not far from my hometown who had one pup left. My initial thought was, “What’s wrong with this little guy that he’s the last one left of his litter of nine?” Turns out, people had been more interested in the females and this was a happy, healthy pup who just happened to remain unclaimed. After taking one look at the photos the breeder sent to me, I nearly melted and immediately knew this was the pup for me. (I’ve included one of the pics here — who could say no to that face, right?) So, I took the plunge and scooped him up. The breeder held on to him for a month until I could get home for the holidays from the East Coast. He also kindly agreed to start calling him Ernie, the name of baseball legend Ernie Banks, who was the first black player to play for my favorite team, the Chicago Cubs.
When the day came to finally get Ernie, my younger sister and I made the 3-hour trip to pick him up from the farm he’d been raised on. It was love at first sight with the little spotted guy, who then proceeded to bring on a perfect storm of poop, pee, puke, and drool during our drive home. Stank and bodily fluids aside, Ernie soon settled right in at home during the holiday break, undoubtedly making the perfect Christmas gift.
Ernie has been a true gift ever since, too. From his rural Midwestern beginnings, he’s transformed into quite the city dog in Boston. He readily adapted to apartment life and can’t get enough of our frequent trips to the Public Garden and neighborhood dog parks. He even comes to work with me and tags along when I shop. Ernie loves meeting new people, which has become a daily ritual at this point since people are always surprised to see a Dal. Walking him is basically like walking around with a unicorn, or a celebrity of sorts as my friends like to call him. My fiancé and I have met so many wonderful folks and pups in our adventures with Ernie…and have heard our fair share of dad jokes as well (“Where are the other 100?!”) Woof. As I like to say, “Dogs bring the world together,” especially in a bustling city like Boston.
Life with Ernie hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, though, as he was hit by a car during a trip to Vermont in 2016. The incident, which occurred in a matter of seconds and still seems like a blur, fortunately only resulted in a broken leg and some minor scarring around his mouth. The recovery process proved pretty intense, however, and included two surgeries, weekly trips to the hospital to change his bandages and months of him saddled in a cone of shame. You never think something like that can happen to your dog — even the most well behaved of dogs like Ernie — but it can (make sure you have pet insurance, y’all!) Thankfully, he’s made a full recovery and you’d almost never know it happened.
Despite a trying event like this, Ernie has filled our hearts with such immense joy. We’re so glad to have him in our lives, especially after the aforementioned incident. Ernie and I have been through so much these last five years, including a move to Boston, meeting my now-fiancé, family births and losses, my return to school full-time, meeting new friends and furiends, and so much more. At the end of the day, you can’t beat coming home to his howls of happiness and utter excitement. The little guy is like a best friend to me, and my fiancé and I couldn’t imagine life without him. He’s become so central to our lives and to those around us, many of whom we like to call his aunts and uncles now.
Thanks so much for reading. I look forward to sharing more of our adventures in upcoming posts!
Tell us how you and your pup met in the comments!