Friday, February 12, 2010

The Puppy Diaries

This is the puppy we were going to get. It was a pure-bred, ten week old show dog. The dog needed a home immediately and we had made an appointment to go see the dog and, possibly, take him/her home on the spot. Free. The dog was a give away. I was so excited!

I have not considered getting a dog, ever, in my adult life. Not once. I have spent my years living in Tw0-A, the puppy sitter for my friends. An at home worker, I have always had the luxury of a free'd up schedule; so it was incredibly convenient for me to dogsit. I have cared for Buddy the Corgi, Molly the Pomeranian, Spencer the Jack Russell Terrier and Sophie the Schnoodle. Sophie is the most extraordinary of these animals (and slated to be the ring bearer at our wedding next year). Molly was a princess. Spencer was a terror (and Rachel refers to him as "the mangy cur who wants to eat me!"). Buddy was my sweetheart. I loved him very much and cared for his 16 year old broken body as often as I could; anything to get him away from his horrible owner, a man who refused to walk him because the dog had gotten so heavy that his pelvic girdle broke, requiring an operation that left the dog slightly crippled, but able to walk. Unable to travel up and down stairs with ease, Buddy required being carries. The horrible and lazy owner wouldn't carry him and, so left Buddy with a life of confinement in a small New York apartment, where he was forced to make on wee-wee pads. Whenever his owner asked me, I took Buddy for weeks at a time, happy to curl up on the bed with him and watch tv and cuddle. I was happy to carry Buddy to the street and take him for long walks, even getting him to run a little from time to time. When Buddy got too old, the owner put him down without even calling me so I could say goodbye.

Sometimes I find myself hoping that when his time is up, there is nobody to say goodbye to him. It is unkind and uncalled for; but I am only human and when I witness the kind of uncaring animal cruelty I saw heaped on Buddy, I want to hurt the pet owner. Don't have a pet if you aren't going to care for it and love it. Just don't. They can't speak for themselves; it is up to us to care for our animal family members. If you can't have compassion for your pet, please don't expect me to have compassion for you.

Now that my soapbox is put away, I should say that the dog in these photos is Rhoda. She is a Brussels Griffon and one of the loves of my life.

She has also, recently, been my saviour.

You see, in December I said to my best friend, Hunter, I said "Let's do something fun this week" and he said "Do you want to go to the humane society and pet puppies? " I didn't know that was something you could do and it excited me, a LOT. So on a snowy day, Hunter and I walked to the East Side and met Pat at a place Hunter found online. Unfortunatley, we were not allowed to play with the puppies there -- but they sent us to a place where we could. Once there, we looked at a lot of dogs and, after much consideration, we asked to play with one of the dalmation-beagle pups they had. The worker said we should take out all three, which he did; and we took them to a room on the fourth floor and spent an hour playing with these three beautiful dogs from the same litter (there had been six but three had already been adopted). We all three thought they all three were wonderful but when I saw Hunter and one of the dogs (her name escapes me at this moment) playing in the window, I knew the honeymoon was on. And Pat was definately attached to Marco Polo. And I was having a love affair of my own with Fiesta. After half an hour, I just had to have that dog.

Well, it just wasn't to be. The beagle dalmations were going to grow to be fifty pound dogs. Our apartment would never accomodate a fifty pound dog. When we got home I was quietly doing my housework and, after a bit of time, Pat came to me, wondering what was wrong. Nothing. Are you thinking about Fiesta? Yes. Do you want that dog? Yes. But conversation would follow and, within twenty minutes, it was clear we could not get that dog. The thing is, before that conversation, I was cool. I had it in my head that we couldnt' get a dog and I would learn to deal with it. Then came the conversation that opened the door to the idea that a dog might actually be possible. Then came the end of the conversation, in which I sacrificed the chance of having Fiesta come live with us. I was so sick about it that I went to bed at eight o'clock at night. I was sad for about a week.

But Rhoda is the dog of one of my best friends and, so, we see her a lot. After all, they live around the corner. Her owner and I speak almost every day and we all see each other at least four times a week. It really saved me, seeing Rhoda so much.

It came to my attention that my next door neighbour had a friend with two pure bred ShihTzu puppies, desperate for homes. They were being given away. I expressed an interest and was emailed photos of the puppies and, promptly, fell in love. I talked to Pat about it and we were justthisclose to getting one of those dogs.

We had some friends over for lunch. Excitedly, I announced that we were going to get our dog the next day. What happened next was like some slow motion surreality from a movie. Four people in the room began talking about their pets. They said they loved them.. and then some of them launched into speeches about how much work, how much time, how much money it meant, having a pet. In six minutes flat, my dog was gone. I was foolish and brought up this subject of conversation in a room filled with my family and they took my dog away from me. I don't think I will ever forget that day. I am, in fact, not sure I have recovered from it - or if I ever will. I sat there and watched my husband's face turn from a comedy mask to a tragedy mask; and I knew -- I would not be getting that dog.

I have the unique ability of being able to see inside of people. I can see what they are thinking, what they are feeling, what they are hiding; this is, especially, true of my close friends - to say nothing of my husband. I knew he didn't want to incur that work and that expense. He is, always has been, always will be my first priority. My job in this life is to make his life easier. So when the topic of the dog, next, came up, I said we probably shouldn't get the puppy. His reply: "we are THIS close to being completely out of debt -- and we have the wedding in 14 months; we really shouldn't get the dog." I replied. Ok. And that was that.

A friend, told this story, said "maybe later... after the debt is cleared out and the wedding is over...." But I said no. I won't do this again. In the time span of four weeks I had two dogs in my metaphorical hands and I had them taken away from me. It cannot come close to what a woman experiences when she miscarries or what a couple feels when their proposed adoption doesn't go through; but to me, that is what this felt like. I won't do that again, ever.

Jason, though, lets me take Rhoda several days a week, while he is working. Instead of daycare, he leaves her with me. We walk, I pop her popcorn (Rhoda loves popcorn!), she sits on my feet when I am at the computer, working... Rhoda sits with me on the sofa and even naps with me (THAT is like CRACK to me). Even the other day, Jason brought his massage table over to work on me (my back and shoulders need massages a LOT - thank heaven my friend is also one of the greatest massage therapists of all time) and while he was in the bathroom washing his hands, Rhoda leaped from the floor to the table. When Jason came into the room, there was naked me and clothed Rhoda, both snoozing on the massage table. Natch, he grabbed my camera and popped a pic. Rhoda spent most of that massage, sprawled across my ankles, while Jason worked on me. It was, truly, one of the perfect moments of my life. It felt like home. I have said to many people that Rhoda isn't really a dog - she is a tiny, furry person on four legs. She and her daddy are my family; and like good family members, they save me. Every day.


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