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.
Just 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?
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.
I 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.