Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Origin Story: Hogan McSmalls

I receive a lot of messages on Facebook and Tumblr (and @replies on Twitter) asking me questions about Hogan McSmalls.  I get way more questions about him than I do about me, which completely makes sense.  (Look at that fuzzy little face!)  I realize that I write about him, tweet about him and Instagram him a lot.  Like, maybe too much.  Like, maybe so much that my friends with actual children might be concerned about me.  Hi, guys!  I'm fine.  Totally fine.  Bought Hogan a skunk costume at the Target after-Halloween sale but it was an IRONIC purchase.  I'm good.  Really.

Because I want to address all of the questions and because my little nephew is crazy into super heroes right now, I've decided to write Hogie's Origin Story.  I won't be able to tell you exactly how he got his super powers but I will tell you how I found him and named him and how he fit into our life.

I was on the way to IKEA to look at baby stuff with my very pregnant friend, Roxane, when she insisted we stop by the Animal Shelter "just to look."  This wasn't out of nowhere.  She knew I'd been checking Los Angeles adoption agencies and shelters for weeks because I really wanted a dog.  But, that day I was over it.  I was tired and I just wanted to hit IKEA and go home.  I was frustrated with the dog search. "No way," I told her.  One thing about Rox is that she's pretty persistent.  She mentioned it again post-IKEA so I relented.  We walked in and Hogie was in the second cage to the left, next to a very pissed off German Shepherd.  He looked so sad and so tiny behind the bars.  He was shaking and he cringed every time the bigger dog barked.  He looked like my dog was supposed to look if that makes any sense.  He seemed sweet and funny and goofy.  I wanted to take him home that day but the shelter keeps animals for two weeks so their owners can find them.  I wrote down the date he'd be available and we left.

Two weeks later, I was going about my day when my mom called.  "Isn't that little dog available today?" she asked.  It was three in the afternoon.  I kind-of freaked out.  I thought for sure someone had swooped him up.  I'd been checking him online so I knew no one had claimed to be his owners but I thought surely someone had been there when they opened that morning waiting to adopt him.  But when I called, they said he was still there.  Tim left work early and we headed to the shelter.  We took him to the back yard of the place where he played fetch with us and let us pet him.  He even rolled over on his back to show us his belly.  We thought this was a good sign because apparently submissive dogs don't, like, bite kids' faces off and stuff.  So, yeah, we liked him.  We adopted him on the spot.

He had to go get snipped so he went to a vet's office for his surgery.  I went crazy.  I bought three books on dog training and read them all in 36 hours.  I developed a terrible stomach ache.  I somehow believed I was going to royally screw up as a new dog owner.  I'd grown up with dogs but my parents fed them and took them to the vet and trained them and cleaned up their messes. I just dressed them up in boas and chased them around the yard and carried them around like babies.  I was terrified to be in charge.

In the meantime, I held a contest on my old blog.  Name Our Dog and all that.  We had several choices and people could cast their votes in the comment section.  There was even a board up at Tim's work where his coworkers were voting too.  (There were many write-ins.  Butts McNuts and Darth Vader.  Stuff like that.)  Hank came in first.  Hogan was second.  My favorite, Smalls (from The Sandlot), was, to my dismay, one of the least popular names on the list.  We decided against Hank for a number of reasons.  One was that we thought if we named him Hank, he'd have to wear a bandanna at all times.  Also, Tim works for Fox Animation so we feared that people would assume we'd named him after Hank Hill.  So we went for Hogan, a name I'd contributed as a tribute to my recently deceased favorite college professor, Larry Hovis.  (He played Carter on Hogan's Heroes.  Since I didn't want a dog named Carter, I went for Hogan.)  So we had Hogan.  Because my mom had recently discovered we were of Scottish descent and because I think all pets deserve a last name, but most of all because I needed to be able to yell, "You're killing me Smalls," at my dog, I added a Mc to the name Smalls and gave him the last name of McSmalls.  Hogan McSmalls.

We picked him up from the vet's office.  He didn't make a noise for a week.  I thought he was part barkless dog, which is a real thing and not something I made up even though it sounds like something I'd make up.  (Much later, I had his DNA tested because I'm insane.  He's Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund and Boston Terrier.) He peed everywhere constantly.  He wouldn't make eye contact.  I dealt with this by hurling love at him constantly.  I would pet him and hug him and tell him he was a handsome fuzzy burrito.  Stuff like that.  Eventually he stopped peeing and started looking at me.  His tail started wagging and he began making the occasional noise.  The noises he makes sound more like an old man getting up from a La-Z-Boy than a dog.  He grumbles, he snorts, he howls.  He doesn't really bark.

His personality started to emerge.  He's goofy and insistent and cocky.  He has super powers for sure, mainly crazy fetching abilities and a knack for turning over trash cans.  He's smart and mischievous.  He'll wait until we've left the house to do everything he knows he's not supposed to do.  In his six years with us he's knocked out a screen and scrambled out onto the roof, defiantly gotten onto every piece of furniture we own including desks and shelves, eaten an iPod,  peed on my laptop, opened cabinets and doors to get to food, opened a water bottle and poured water all over our bed, dragged a full trash bag through the house, redecorating with coffee grinds and rotting food, and, oh yeah, that one time when he somehow got up on our kitchen counter (he's a foot tall and super stocky), opened a glass cabinet door and pulled out chocolate, tea and Splenda and ate it all.  (That resulted in a very scary couple of days at an emergency clinic.)

So, Hogie's not exactly a superhero but he is a rebel.  And he's definitely ours.  We claim him.  We love him.  We clean up after him and take him to the vet when he does something idiotic, which is often.  We tell him when he's awesome and we tell him when he's being a dick.  He's a crazy belligerent devious shedding machine who makes a mess wherever he goes.  His great loves are: toys, tennis balls, anything even slightly edible and squirrels.  His fears are: coughing, German Shepherds, rain, old men with canes and going without food.

That is Hogan McSmalls.  That is what I know.