In Awkward Introductions, I mentioned that Banjo would likely be referenced often and may get his own origin post, in case any of you were curious about how I ended up with him.
For most of my life, I've wanted a dog. I've always wanted cats, too - one of these days I'll write a post about Turkey kitty - but having a dog represented something to me. Something big. If you have a cat, odds are that your pet food budget is still under your own grocery bill, and you can find a reasonable apartment to rent. A dog, though....that is some grown up shit. They eat more, need to go outside, need room to run and play, etc. In my mind, I could only get a dog if I:
Had a vehicle to transport him/her in Which first requires a license....let's save THAT story for another day.
Was stable enough to provide for him/her - financially as well as with a work/life balance Read: Can't be working 18 hour days, traveling every week, and no more going into overdraft a week before every payday, Kathy...
Owned my own home I can't handle a "3rd date" commitment; how am I supposed to sign a 30 year mortgage?
Whether that checklist is valid or not is irrelevant - the point is it's what I felt was needed, as an independent single person. Considering my struggle with all aspects of grown up business but particularly those three areas, I wasn't holding my breath for a canine buddy anytime soon.
Against all odds, I somehow found myself with a car, a reasonable work/life balance, and a situation where I could feasibly buy a house. I had been sharing an apartment with Lindsay (my niece), Cody, and their baby Madelyn. I wanted a place that was large enough to have room for them for as long as they wanted to stay, but also something that I could manage on my own. In February 2017, after almost a year of half assed house hunting, I found it - my home. Room for people, but manageable for one, in town but quiet, pleasant back area, etc. The closing date was late March 2017, giving me time to get my shit together. I didn't, but that's besides the point. I did however start daydreaming about a dog. I was pretty set on the whole "adopt, don't shop" approach. I'm a sucker for underdog humans; how do you think I feel about underdog DOGS. I was fully aware that any proper shelter or rescue group wouldn't hand one over to just anyone, and that they require applications and a screening process. Assuming that the process would take time, and that it could be years before "my dog" popped up but that it was best to be pre-approved, I started applying through all of local(ish) groups that I knew of. Again, I expected this to take some time. I was just trying to be proactive...which is ridiculous, because we all know I've never been responsibly proactive at anything in my life.
On March 17, 2017 (Saint Patrick's Day), I saw it. It was a week before closing, but.... THIS FACE.
A Facebook post from one of the rescue groups that I had been following said that "1: male, 12 wks" from a previous litter was up for adoption. Turns out that a family dog had pups born on Christmas Eve that were surrendered to this group, except for one - they kept their favourite (spoiler alert: that's Banjo). The other pups were all adopted quickly, no worries there. A month later, for whatever reason, they decided to surrender this last one as well instead of keeping him. Maybe they had a change in circumstance, maybe they had forgotten how difficult a puppy can be, maybe they thought he'd be smaller (uhhhh he's not); whatever the reason, this little guy found himself homeless a while after his brothers his sisters were adopted. After a few very Irish coffees and staring at that face, I decided that I needed to know more about this guy. I clearly wasn't thinking straight and was caught up in "cute puppy madness" which was just exasperated with some Jamesons. I truly didn't think anything would actually come of this, because I was still in an apartment and the closing date on my house was a week away. Regardless, I messaged the rescue group who confirmed that I was approved and that the dog was mine if I wanted as soon as I paid the adoption fee. I was clearly a bit hesitant (read: sobering up), and explained the housing situation, thinking that was my "out". Turns out that the dog's foster family was so smitten with him that they didn't mind keeping him for an extra week until I moved in. Way to shoot down my one tangible excuse! She offered to put me in touch with the pup's current foster mom to answer any questions and discuss a potential meeting. Here's a snapshot of how some of that conversation went...
Foster Mom (FM): You're welcome to come meet him. We live in Moncton, on Hennessy St.
Me: Oh hey, that's a neat coincidence, my last name is Hennessy.
FM: ....wait, are you Tina's sister?
Me (otherwise known as Tina's sister): Uhhhh..........
Now, at this point, I've already been in touch with my sisters to show them this pup and wait for them to talk sense into me. I don't know who I was kidding, of course they encouraged this completely. I asked my sister if she remembered "Leticia". Well. Not only did she remember this girl from school (in a completely different town, I should add) - turns out they were very good friends, and that Foster-Mom-Leticia was actually the one who introduced Sister-Tina to the guy who ended up fathering her children, including the above mentioned live-in niece.
I don't know what finally made me decide that this was it, this was my dog. Maybe it was the crazy 20+ year old family connection, or that he was born on December 24th (I am a sucker for a good old fashioned Christmas miracle), the coincidence of him staying with a foster on Hennessy St, the crazy timing days before my closing date, the amount of Jameson infused coffee in my system, or even just those eyebrows - this dog *needed* to be in my family.
Sure enough, the following week went like this:
March 24: Closing day.
March 25: Moving truck day.
March 26: Drive to Moncton to pick up puppy day.
I probably should have spent a day unpacking, getting my life in order, etc. NOPE, not when this guy was waiting for me.
His foster family, who had been just wonderful to him, certainly weren't calling him "1: male". At least not to his face, c'mon! He was indeed given another name. For the life of me, I can't remember what it was because he's just...Banjo. But the point is, he had one. I think it started with a D - Leticia, if you're reading this, feel free to remind me. :) Whatever it was, I remember that I wasn't necessarily set on it and figured he was young enough that I could rename with minimal confusion. Honestly, I wanted to name him Jameson, in honour of the liquid courage enabling this whole thing. Before deciding, I wanted to test it out a bit. I took "1: male" for a walk with Lindsay and Madelyn. Madelyn was just over a year and a half old then, where words are new and fun. I tested "Jameson" to see if either the pup or toddler responded. Nothing. "Whiskey" - nothing. Continuing with the Irish theme, I tried "Fiddle" - nothing. Fiddle made me think of Dad playing his, which made me think of him playing the banjo, so.... "Banjo" - at which point Madelyn giggled and repeated back "Ban-no", and his little head turned back. So, while it may have started as a joke, there was no going back. Ban-no was his name. Somehow, it just works. Besides, you can't be sad around a banjo, right?
The final "yup, this is my dog, and this is his name" connection didn't hit me until months later, December 2017, when Christmas carols were hitting airwaves and playlists, and I was preparing for Christmas as well as Banjo's first birthday. David Myles has this wonderful little holiday tune called "Santa Never Brings Me a Banjo" that came on the radio. While I was singing along to the second verse, Banjo nudged me with his head. I'm sure that he was just looking for a treat or something, but I was suddenly hit with one of those HOLY CRAP! light bulb moments. Maybe David Myles had to wait a few years for his in the song (and now, book!) but Santa sure brought ME a Banjo. <3
David was recently in town for a book signing, and I was SO excited. I meant to try and keep my cool and get a copy signed for myself. I mean, I was already getting a kids book signed for grown ass woman, not even willing to use a kid as an excuse. I should have known that any attempt of mine to "keep my cool" never work out as planned. Sure enough, before I even realized what I was doing, I was rambling about Banjo, and how his birthday is Christmas Eve, and how he's a 140 lb lap dog, I think I even rattled off something about how I once had a life goal of high-fiving him after first hearing How'd I Ever Think I Loved You because it was so clever. Somehow, David understood what I was saying and seemed to think that it was all highly amusing. Through much laughter, he asked if he could sign the book to Banjo to wish him a Happy Birthday. Heck, I even got my high five.
And that, my friends, is the whole story of how Banjo came into my life. I've never had a dog before, had no idea he'd grow into a rhinocer-pony-dog, and have absolutely no idea what I'm doing - but we're figuring it out together and having a pretty good time along the way. If I could change a thing about him, I probably wouldn't.