Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Being tricked has never been so wonderful

Trish and Gustav, circa Nov. 2007

I had gone with Jen to pick up Sadie, the beagle she had just adopted from Pets Alive in Middletown, NY. Pets Alive and Best Friends had recently shut down an Amish puppy mill in Vermont? Virginia? I can never remember which. Anyway, it was horrifying, the conditions these animals had been living in, and there were close to three hundred small-breed dogs who needed medical treatment and new homes. (Apparently the Amish do not believe dogs are God's creatures. If they did, these dogs would have been in much better shape.) While Jen was filling out all the necessary forms to take her newly adopted dog home, one of the volunteer women walked up to me with this tiny bundle of ears, eyes and paws and said, "Could you just hold him for a second?" and our fates were sealed.

I was not looking for a another dog. Dear goodness no. Mike and I had only been living in NYC for six months, we were B R O K E, both suffering from depression, and living in a tiny tenement with two cats and Valentine. Bringing a fourth animal home would be one of the stupidest things I could do.

"Who is this?" I asked the volunteer, my heart thumping.
"That's Gustav. Isn't he handsome?"
"What kind of dog is he?"
"A long haired dachshund."

But I've never liked wiener dogs, I thought. And I really don't like long-haired animals, they're too high maintenance. And then he nuzzled his face under my chin and sighed.

"Awww ... wow. He's really sweet."
"No one wants him, can you believe that?"

It was bad enough she'd walked up to me and put this dog in my arms so he could nuzzle his face under my chin and melt me. But then she had to go and tell me that no one wanted him. That was all I needed to start fishing around in my purse for my cellphone.

"Hey Trish! Did you get Jen's dog?"
"OHGAWDYOU'REGOINGTOKILLME. I've completely fallen in love with this little dog and I don't know what to do I think I'm going to adopt him no one else wants him I just filled out the adoption application STOP ME OR ELSE."

But Mike didn't stop me. He said he thought it was actually pretty cool.

And then our landlord gave his signed consent that we could have another dog.

And then the person who home-checked us approved us. (Thanks, Sibley!)

And then I stopped myself. I forced myself to hand Gustav back to the woman, kiss his nose and say good bye because really? It was entirely the wrong time to be adopting another dog. Our apartment was too small, we were too broke, we had too many animals as it was, what was I thinking? So Jen and I drove back to Manhattan, Sadie curled in a ball in the back seat of the rental car.

For days, I pined over Gustav. Four days, to be exact. On the fourth day I called Pets Alive and asked after him. No one else had put in an application for him. And Mike convinced me it really would be ok, and Sibley offered to drive me back to Middletown and my boss gave me the day off work and I got Gustav. Who we re-named Theo.

That first evening he was home with us, the first moment he met Michael, the first night he lay curled between us, under covers, breathing hot breath on our necks, I couldn't get over the magic of it all. I was nervous about the new responsibility, but so thrilled at this little creature worming his way into my heart.

And then he squirmed out from under the covers, toddled to the foot of the bed, and laid a big huge poop.

I love you, little dog. I love you even though you eat cat shit out of the litter box. I love you even though you communicate mainly through bodily fluids. I love you even though your ears smell like stinky cheese, no matter how often I wash them. Bringing you home was not stupid at all.



'Cita said...

This is a lovely story. You are a patient woman. Michael is a Very Patient man.

Dopey LaRue said...

To me he will always be Thaxle. And my favorite cuddle companion in New York. Sorry, Valentine, my co-favorite cuddle companion!!!

Anonymous said...

Ummm. Can we talk about the fact that your dog has a red rocket in the last picture? Was that an accident? lol

Kim said...

I was totally wondering the same thing as "Anonymous" over there...

-J. said...

That's the most heart-warming story involving poop I've heard today.

And anon/Kim, she did say he communicates through bodily fluids...

Tara said...

He's Male....'nough said.