You've got a friend in me - Part I

posted Sep 23, 2011, 6:00 AM by Stephen Zenter

Back in the summer of 2006, Sara and I found ourselves married for just a few short months.  While we were happy newlyweds, we already felt there was a little something missing.  Of course we were not ready yet for kids, but we got the next best thing – a dog!  At the time we lived in Katy (on the west side of Houston) and passed people selling their latest litter of puppies on the main stretch each Saturday.  This particular weekend, a young couple was peddling a litter of young dachshund puppies.  We really wanted to buy one, but we decided to wait and think about it.  To Sara’s disappointment, when we returned to get one later in the day, they were gone. 

If you have known my wife for more than ten minutes, you know she is a prime example of the word “determination.”  She soon found someone on the southeast side of Houston with a litter of standard dachshunds, black and brown at that.  We made the drive, paid the lady, and brought home a pint-sized weenie dog.  On the way home, we picked up all the canine essentials while contemplating names for our new addition.  We wanted something to mark our start in Houston and decided on “Zenters’ Houston Astro” - “Astro” for short. 

I was unemployed and looking for a job at the time, so Astro and I spent the first few months together at our apartment.  Our daily routine included: walking on a leash, potty time, running around the apartment like a nut, dinner time, and playtime with chew toys on the patio.  We bonded quickly and enjoyed our time together.  Each afternoon we waited patiently for Sara to come home and then repeated most of the above.  Over the years, Sara and I discovered our dog’s immense personality.  He soon learned what the phrase, “Mommy’s home!” meant and would run to the door each afternoon when I said it.  He picked up on some frequently-used terms and responded to things like “treat” and “outside,” “home” and “walk.”    He learned what peanut butter tastes like and will run to get some when he hears the cap being untwisted from the jar.  That is, however, his second favorite food to cheese.  He not only knows the sound of the wrapper or bag from cheese but knows the sound of the fridge door where it is kept.

Astro has been such a great companion.  He always travels with us to and from Shreveport to visit the family (We tried it a few times with Luna, but she gets car sick).  He gets excited when we say, “Are you ready to go?” and heads for the door.  He always runs into the bathroom in the morning to see if I am in the shower when he comes back inside from his morning run around the yard.  He is protective over his family, especially little Christopher, and will guard the door between you and the rest of the house.  He is also quite stubborn when he wants to be - according to my wife, a trait he most likely picked up from me.  You have to convince him to go outside in the morning and leave his warm bed behind.  He will bark at you to come cover him up in bed if he can’t quite get his blanket just right.  And warm laundry - the dog loves warm laundry and will do anything he can to jump into it.  I even love the dog so much that I let him sleep in our bed with us for the past three years.  He has been so much more than a pet to us.  He is truly a part of our family.

All of these things are what makes Astro our little buddy and bring joy into our lives.  All of these things are what made us worried and scared when he wasn’t feeling so great.  All of these things are what made the last few weeks at the Zenter house difficult, yet so rewarding.