Back in the summer of 2000, my sister, Lori and I had decided we had gone too long without a dog—two and a half days earlier, Chelsea, our twelve year old Golden Retriever had crossed the Rainbow Bridge—which is a nice way of saying she passed away due to complications with hip dysplasia. Two and a half days of doggie deprivation had to stop.
The previous day, our parents had left for their summer baby sitting stint in Minneapolis and according to Mom, we were told, “Do not get a dog while we’re gone.”
That’s what Mom claimed she said. What I’m positive I heard was, “There better be a dog in this house when I get back.”
Well, there was no way Lori and I were going to disappoint “DiMamma” by not having a dog.
With the parents safely off to Minnesota, Lori and I looked at the classified section of The Nashua Telegraph and found a dog kennel in Deerfield, New Hampshire.
Lori gave me that look that said she had nothing better to do on a Saturday and I told her, “If we go to this place, there’s a 95% chance we’re coming back with a dog.”
The big grin on her face told me that was a risk she was willing to take so off we went. Along the way, we discussed names. Lori wanted to name the dog something unique. Since I have a bachelor of arts in history from Keene State College and a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, I first suggested Zama, the place where Scipio Africanus defeated Hannibal. Lori gave me one of those looks from the corner of her eye and shook her head. Alright, Zama didn’t work. Undaunted, I went with the next name: Yalu—not only is it the river that separates North Korea from China, it’s also a name you can howl.
Lori’s eyes widened. A smile came to her and I got a prolonged, “Heyyyy” and yes we both howled Yalu on the ride to the kennel.