Yes, I bought him from a pet store at the mall.
It's not for lack of research, but it was an intentional decision. I know it's not a great place to buy a dog. But it's a place where dogs lie in wait, in puppy purgatory, and those dogs need families too.
Max's tale is a classic story of The Puppy Nobody Wanted. He had a cold for a few of his early weeks, and this took him off the market for a bit, since very few people want to get a dog with a snotty nose. When he was well and ready to go back on the selling block, he was too big to be the itty-bitty, pocket-size puppy that most new owners want.
Some might say he was lethargic in his kennel, but I say he was lonely. Because when I asked to hold him, he came to life in my arms. He just needed somebody to say, "Hey, we like you."
The boys pleaded with me as we visited him in the dressing room that is a puppy meet 'n greet, or they could call it Cupid's Corner where you're destined to fall in love. I pretended that they were convincing me, although I had decided as soon as I saw him: that boy is coming home with us today.
I have this theory. Employees at an animal shelter work there because they have such compassion that cannot be contained, and they simply must spend their days caring for orphaned pets, because anything else would be a crime against nature.
In a pet store at the mall, the employee is typically poorly trained, hates his job, and will just as likely wear a different uniform and offer me a piece of Japanese chicken on a toothpick in the food court next week. So I venture to say that animals in the pet store need love even more than those in an animal shelter.
Dogs at an animal shelter have names and friends. Dogs at the mall have a serial number and price tag.
Sure, he could have some health problems we don't know about. But that is true of any breathing thing you commit to love, even those who come with certificates and guarantees.
So, did we buy Max, or did we adopt him, or rescue him? Yes.
And he is the most perfect creature for our family. His kind was bred to sit at the feet of the queen, so he has a gentle, docile disposition, he's content for little boys to hand him back and forth, and if you're thinking of a game of fetch, he's likely to look at you like, "What. You threw it, you go get it."
Even now, he's sitting next to me as I write, lying on his side between my lap and the couch.
Max spent most of last evening climbing from one lap to another, feeling like maybe he had really arrived in heaven. If dog heaven is about food and love and a warm place to rest your head, then yes, Max. You've arrived.
"Mommy, thank you so, so, so much for letting us get a dog."
You're welcome, guys. But actually, I think I got him for me.
p.s. H. is for House.