I brought Stella home from the fair on tear down day. Often, it's a Monday, the day after the midway closes when all the rides are being packed away. It follows tear down night. Any other year, I would've stayed all day taking pictures, but I had very suddenly become the owner of a puppy. I say very suddenly - that's misleading- I asked Billy Winn, nine days earlier if I could have her, betting he'd say no, which he did. Then, in a combined moment of clarity and good will, Billy and his girl had a meeting and decided to adopt her out. So late Sunday afternoon, I became the new proud owner of the bouncing baby dog. Three months old. Pit Bull. Never been on a walk. Or in a house. Did however, spend the last three months riding around the country, hanging behind a midway, listening to Nickleback and Emanem.
In preparation for this adoption I went home at 4 in the morning and picked up everything in the house that I thought would interest a puppy, magazines, camera gear, power cords, the new cowboy boots, all put away some place out of reach. During that time I went from trying to talk myself out of taking the puppy to being totally overjoyed about actually having a puppy. It was a combination of fear and sleep deprivation but at no time did I stop picking things up and putting them away. Two hours later, I was back at the fairgrounds in time to shoot the sunrise. At eleven-thirty that afternoon, I got the nod from Billy to take the dog. He was getting ready to move the truck she'd been tied to for the last twelve days and we agreed that at that point, she'd be mine.
She (all twelve pounds of her) drug me across the midway and I steered her in the direction of the car. There's a whole story about the first time I walked this dog, nine and a half hours earlier. I'll just say here, that she has a passion for funnel cake and leave it at that. On this, our last goodbye to the Tennessee State Fair, I was headed to the car and she was headed to the funnel cake. It's safe to say, there's more than a little bit of it, on the ground after ten days of the Tennessee State Fair. It was kind of like being tied to the back of a train.
Once we made it to the car, her demeanor changed. This would be the only time she would be allowed to sit in my lap in the car and for part of the ride, she did exactly that. The last half of our journey would see her sitting quietly in the passenger's seat watching me intently for any sign of what was coming next.
Don't worry, I blindly assured her. Everything's going to be fine.
We went straight to the pet supermarket, just to drive the point home.
Without hesitating, she walked through the automatic doors. I immediately picked her up and set her in the basket of the nearest cart. She studied me, uncertain as we rolled down the first aisle and let loose a heavy sigh. Her world had changed dramatically in the last forty minutes. Neither of us had slept for two days and it was hard to say which would be the first to collapse.
Then I picked up Baby Giraffe, gave him a squeak and tossed him into the cart with her.
Joyous revelation is the only way I can describe it now. The happy dance. I'm surprised she didn't pee herself. It was the moment she understood that I wasn't just some dangerous kidnapper. By the time we left there, she was sitting in the cart in a new dog bed, schmoozing extra milk bones off the cashiers.
Baby Giraffe became the icon of happiness for Stella. This photo was taken the day we retired him and today, this many months later, if I want her full attention, literally all I have to do is say the words: Baby Giraffe and for a minute anyway - she's mine.