On Dec. 28, 2012, a beautiful, Staffordshire sweetheart gave birth to 10 puppies at the home of one of our foster caregivers.

On Dec. 28, 2012, a beautiful, Staffordshire sweetheart gave birth to 10 puppies at the home of one of our foster caregivers. All throughout that December night, my friend sent me updates, texts and pictures of the newborns. We had a wager going on how many puppies Tinker would have. I had guessed 10 so I was “the winner,” but of what we weren’t sure. Even with the first pictures, I was struck by one of the puppies in particular, but shrugged it off. I love all puppies. But as the days and weeks went by, we watched them grow, and with each visit, my attentions always turned toward the larger blue brindle puppy with sky blue eyes and four white socks, accompanied by an incredibly easy going temperament and personality. At eight weeks of age, nine out of the 10 puppies quickly found homes. Number 10, the blue brindle boy they called Vesuvius was still waiting. 

I wrestled fiercely within, knowing I didn’t need another dog. For two weeks, I attempted several times to send an email saying I would not take him. Every time I decided to send the message, I mysteriously hit the “Save to Drafts” button instead. For five years I’ve had a dream of someday being the owner/guardian of a Staffordshire mix that I could train to become a therapy dog. I have read so many amazing stories of what therapy dogs are doing, (and yes, many are Pit mixes). Finally, after a heart-to-heart with Rich, I decided since I couldn’t say “no,” I might as well say “yes” and get on with it. 

We had to change his name almost right away because people couldn’t understand what we were saying and if we shortened it to Suvi, they thought we were calling him “Susie.” Carl and I enrolled in puppy training classes right away and I was so pleased with my very smart puppy! (I know going from Vesuvius to Carl is a big switch.) Our classmates would remark each week about how big Carl was and how fast he was growing. Carl’s sister, JoJo, was in the class and he surpassed her by leaps and bounds in height and weight. Each time we went to a veterinary appointment, Carl’s weight had increased by almost a pound per day! At our last visit, our veterinarian started laughing when he walked in the exam room. I said, “Yes, I know — he’s pretty big. We’re getting worried.” The vet thinks Carl’s daddy was a Great Dane type and predicts Carl will weigh at least 120 pounds or more.

Carl just turned four months old and weighs 55 pounds. As a friend and I visited one evening about miniature horses, I remarked that I’d love to have one someday and she informed me that I already did. I asked her if miniature horse-sized dogs could be therapy dogs.

Carl is a wonderful, gentle giant puppy who loves everyone he meets. His coordination is almost non-existent. He does puppy somersaults trying to chase a tennis ball and wipes out on our floors as if he were on skates. He’s a huge chicken about loud noises, jumping out of the car, off the bed or the couch. He prefers to be lifted up to those same positions and whines pitifully until he gets the heave-ho from someone. 

Choosing a new puppy is like a box of chocolates (as Forrest would say). You never know what you are going to get. Last weekend five puppies were adopted from Faithful Friends. With each adoption, we try to warn that all we can do is make a guess at their parentage, size or personality. One family wanted a protective dog and we had to ask what would happen if this dog hid under the bed at the first sign of danger. They said, “Oh, that’s OK.” It’s a member of the family now. Guess we will call ADT.” Awe, that’s what we needed to hear! Sadly, many are abandoned because they didn’t’ meet someone’s unrealistic expectations.

We are in forever love with this huge, goofy puppy, even if he doesn’t quite fit that vision I had. Seeing the smiles he brings to people’s faces is therapy enough for me.

  Leanne Williams writes a weekly column for the Daily News.