Searching For Unconditional Love

I’ve been thinking that I need a dog. It has been a long time since we have had a dog and a vacancy sign hangs from my heart.

Our last dog was Daisy, a white Boxer. I saw the “free to a good home” ad in the Shopper, and the girls and I were on it. What a sweetheart! Once home, I realized that Daisy did not have a lot of house skills. Daisy neither knew about going up and down stairs nor knew that the furniture was not hers.

Knowing that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, I prepared stuffed, double-cut pork chops for my husband’s dinner. The chops were a buffer to take the rough edges off my failure to discuss bringing a new dog home.

Daisy was excitable, and on hearing Mark come into the house, she jumped on the dining room table to get a better look. Mark was not amused.

But his anger was short-circuited when looking out the window, Mark saw smoke coming from a neighbor’s house. Picking up a shovel and running out the door, he told me to call 911. I did that. Gathering blankets and a broom, the girls and I followed in his wake. By the time we reached the burn site, the fire trucks had arrived, so the girls and I returned home.

We returned home to see that Daisy had helped herself to three pork chops on the stove and had just taken the fourth in her mouth. Grabbing her sizable jaws in both hands, I pried her jaws apart and retrieved the chop. It was hardly dented! I washed the chop off and put it back in the skillet. I gave each of the girls a bowl of cold cereal. My intent was to save Daisy. The girls were to go to their room and eat their cereal. On their daddy’s return, I would say that we had already eaten, but we had saved his dinner. (It was a good fifteen or so years before the true story of the saved chop surfaced.)

That was a very close call. But I had learned my lesson. Bringing home a pet is a joint decision.

2014 12 18 wc 007Just before Christmas, I stopped at the Fremont County Humane Shelter. I knew better than to bring home a dog without my husband’s buy-in, so I took a camera to take photos of my favorites. Once home, I planned to show the pictures to Mark, and if any of the dogs appealed to him, together we would take a second look.

The Canon City shelter is no slouch when it comes to marketing. The staff knows just how to turn up the I-need-a-dog heat. Each dog wore a bright bandana around its neck, and  red Christmas stockings hung from the front of the cages. We have a very small house. I was looking for a medium-size dog. If I had a larger home, I could have easily adopted them all. I was in the Christmas spirit, and they all needed me.

Would these dogs be homeless at Christmas? Would Santa remember that they were now living at the shelter? Were the dogs haunted by memories of abandonment or abuse? Did they reminisce about the good-old-days when they snuggled in the warmth of their litter mates and nursed at their mother’s side?

What do these eyes say to you?

What do these eyes say to you?

Some dogs jumped up – their bodies aquiver in winning anticipation. Their pleading cut me to the core. “Me, me, choose me!” Others refused to make eye contact. They were too depressed to call attention to themselves. They wouldn’t smile. Their averted eyes spoke volumes. These eyes had known hard times. These dogs had been abandoned once, and  they weren’t going to set themselves up to be abandoned again.

A card attached to the front of each dog’s cage gave the dog’s name and history. Some dogs were strays; others had been left at the shelter. Some dogs were not for families with children; other dogs needed a lot of exercise. The dog’s names were personal: Daffodil, three-years-old; Miles, four-years-old; Gracie, one-year; Sugar, one-year. I could have adopted Miles or Nigel based on their names alone.

2014 12 18 wc 010I wanted to adopt them all – especially the soulful-eyed dogs who would love me unconditionally to the end of time. Unconditional love is a big attraction. If I  lost the car keys, had an affair, or accidentally set the kitchen on fire, my dog would still love me. What a gift!

As it turned out, undone by holidays, we did not adopt a dog. We will, but not this month. Before you check out the shelters yourself, you might consider the downside of adopting a dog without your partner’s blessing. As a warning, I’ve pasted in a piece of Flash Fiction that I wrote some time ago for 52/250 – a year-long challenge to weekly write 250 words based on a given prompt.


I don’t remember the prompt but I titled this piece: Threesome

Hers was an Audrey Hepburn face. It was her face that had drawn John to her. One look and he was smitten. Just one wild and wonderful weekend in Vegas, and John and Marie were married in a flurry of confetti.

It was only after they returned to their work-a-day life in Decatur that John realized that Marie was not exclusively his to love, honor, cherish and obey.

John, Marie and Mitzi made three.

Mitzi was Marie’s teacup poodle. After Marie chose her clothing for the day, she would  dress Mitzi in  a coordinating outfit.  Sitting on a stool, Mitzi would take breakfast with John and Marie. If Marie didn’t serve bacon, Mitzi sulked.

Marie would ask John, “Honey, what do you think Mitzi wants?”  And John would close his eyes as though by closing his eyes, Mitzi would magically disappear.

Mitzi was never more than an arm’s length away. At night, Mitzi slept between John and Marie. John needed to observe Mitzi’s space.  Such sharp teeth for such a little dog!

It was only after Mitzi snatched a piece of bacon off John’s plate that John cracked. Impulsively, John reached out and smacked Marie.

Marie fell to the floor. Tears ran down her face. Mitzi’s kiss made everything better.


Buying a dog? Make it a joint decision.




About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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8 Responses to Searching For Unconditional Love

  1. Pari says:

    Beautiful! Adding a family member is a big decision especially for people like you and Mark who love to travel. As you know it is a joy that grows and grows.

  2. Sheila E. says:

    Aww, I loved Daisy!

    • timeout2 says:

      Hi Sheila! I don’t think anyone disliked Daisy. True, with her sort-of bull terrier/pitbull face, she put some people off, but she was a lover. I remember the Fed-Ex driver sitting in his truck and honking his horn. Daisy was barking at him, and he was afraid to step out. I went out to rescue him. He carried the purchase down to the house and when he returned to the truck, Daisy was sitting in the passenger seat – just waiting to go bye-bye.

  3. timeout2 says:

    Dear Pari, Mark and I are travelling less. You are right: pets and travel are not a good mix. This spring Mark and I are taking separate vacations. I have put off looking for a dog because I am going to London in February. Heaven forbid that the dog bonds with Mark and ignores me on my return. Mark is vacationing in April. Just the dog and me – home alone. Yipee! I won’t have to share.

  4. Ruth Steele says:

    Loved this post. We have been dog-less for about a year. Every day I miss Max, a boxer, who was part of the family for 14 years and Coco, a chocolate lab we had for 13. We have many, many stories, laughs and tears about each of them. I too wander through animal shelters just to see what’s (or who’s) there and want to take them all home. We’re still enjoying the travel freedom we have without dogs, but the time will come when we won’t be able to live without one. It will be interesting to see which dog you and Mark adopt.

  5. timeout2 says:

    I know what your are saying, Ruth. Do we give up the freedom to travel to stay home with unconditional love? Unconditional love while travelling would be the best of both worlds. Every time I drive past Russ’s, I eye that Airstream and lick my lips. Thanks for reading.

  6. 2000detours says:

    Great story about your pork chops. And how can anyone live without a dog? Unconditional love indeed.

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Detour, A girl has to do what a girl has to do. What’s a few teeth marks in a pork shop when it is shared between friends and a dog’s life is at stake.

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