Back in 2007, there seemed to be some sort of fever sweeping through my friend group: everyone was adopting dogs. I couldn’t understand it. Why? All of our youngest children were finally starting school. We would have a moment to ourselves. Why would you bring another dependent into the house? A dog is a toddler that never grows up, I said. A dog will never be able to feed itself, I said. It will need walks, it will need grooming, medical care, it will bark, it will chew your shoes, it will pee in the house, it will steal food from the table…
You get the picture – I was not a fan.
My kids and my husband begged me, “Please, can we have a dog?”
Now, many people want to let others down gently. When they don’t want to say “no,” they say things like, “let me think about it” or “we’ll see.”
My response was unambiguous, “Over my dead body.”
Then, one day in the early summer of 2007, a strange thing happened.
My sister, Diana, and I were on the upper east side of Manhattan and passed the window of a pet shop. The most adorable puppies were in the window. And, yes, even I thought they were adorable because all puppies are adorable and I am only human.
Diana said, “Let’s go in…just to look.”
We browsed around. They had puppies and kittens, all looking cuddly and lovable, and heartbreaking in their tiny cages.
For reasons that remain unclear, I started asking questions:
Me: Do you have goldendoodles? My family has allergies.
Salesman: No, we only have purebreds here.
Me: What kind of purebreds are hypoallergenic?
Salesman: Why don’t I show you?
Never trust anyone who answers a question with a question.
The salesman went to an unseeable room in the store and returned with two tiny shitzu pups. One was the color of toasted marshmallows (which I love), and one was black and white like an Oreo cookie (which I also love). I have a sweet tooth. What can I say?
Without a word, he held them out to me. And without a thought, I took them.
That’s when it happened. It came without warning, I didn’t feel a tickle in my throat, or body aches of any kind. Nonetheless, I caught the fever.
The marshmallow was wriggling and squirming. The Oreo was totally zen. I handed the marshmallow back to the salesman and focused on the black and white fur ball that was now cradled in my arms. Like a seasoned pro, it nuzzled its little head under my chin. I was done for.
When I brought her home, my family must have thought I’d lost my mind, and I’ve never seen so much happiness stem from another person’s perceived dementia. After much debate, we named her Fluffy and she has been a beloved part of the family ever since.
After 13 years, Fluffy still can’t feed herself or walk herself, but she has never chewed our shoes (although she went through a period where she’d gather them like a nest around herself). She doesn’t bark. She doesn’t pee in the house. She doesn’t steal food from the table. Turns out, I’d been around some horribly “trained” dogs. She is nothing like them. She is my sweet, well-behaved little toddler that has never grown up and I could love her more. I have never recovered from the fever, and I never want to.