“Honey, I Need a Real Dog”

Last week I was wrestling fiercely in my head and heart about two sweet, invalid pugs I had tentatively opened my home to. Here are Pimm and Polly on my couch, a favorite spot. All they wanted to do was snuggle close, which is not a bad trait if you spend a lot of time sitting. Coco clearly regarded them as aliens, choosing to keep a distance apart.

PandP with Coco.2mp.jpg

I realized, among other things during this enlightening week, that I do not sit a lot. (My inability to post more often on anunboringpath attests to this!) I sit when I write and I sit when I am tired or eating. Sandy says I have two speeds: Off and high. Maybe he is right? Maybe this is another good reason two very inactive, nearly blind dogs are not the best choice for me?

Almost a week into my attempt to be a rescuer, Friday came around, the fiercest day of all, the day I knew I had to make the yea or nay, stay or go, here or somewhere else decision. Friday is also the day I read to Evelyn, who will be 102 in August and has been completely blind for about eight years. If anyone might be sympathetic toward these needy dogs, I thought it would be Evelyn.

Not even close. She was adamant that I should not keep them. First was the you-should-know-this declarative: “They’re dogs.” Meant, I’m sure, to assuage any lingering emotional connection I might have that would lead me to keep them for the wrong reasons. Meant, I’m sure, to suggest that they would be fine in some other place, such place being, in fact, better on account of no potentially deadly stairs that they might fall down. To top that, she – the blind lady who lives in a nursing home – said with as much vehemence as you can imagine her mustering: “They don’t need your home. They need a nursing home.” I was paying attention. She seldom has this strength of opinion.

That evening I sent the note that resulted in the pugs’ departure on Sunday, back to the foster family that bought them (and sent along to me) a suitcase full of cutesy doggie clothes. Anyone who would buy sailor suits, sundresses, raincoats and parkas for pugs, and mark them with their names in permanent marker along the lining of the collars no less, has fond affection for them. I knew Pimm and Polly would be okay. I did not have to be their savior.

Exactly a week after Evelyn told me in no uncertain terms to send the dogs back, I showed up again with To Kill a Mockingbird (our current read) in hand, and had hardly said hello when she said, “Tell me you sent those blind dogs back.” I wonder if she could have paid attention to the story if I had decided to keep them.

When Mom came for her turn to read, and to give me back Rise and Eppie who had been baking chocolate chip cookies with her during my reading hour, I decided to take a picture. Here are my little sweeties, my wonderful mom and happy, relaxed Evelyn enjoying Coco, who chose this moment to be a lizard with her tongue.

Mom Evelyn Rise Eppie Coco.2mp.jpg

Pimm and Polly helped me see my doggie needs differently. A week with dogs that couldn’t find their food unless you put it smack in front of them and gently positioned their flat little faces in their bowls, a week picking up dogs who couldn’t do stairs every time it was time for them to get a little outdoor time (and picking them up again after they’d had sufficient time to explore nature and do business), a week stepping over the temporary, please-God-let-them-not-take-a-tumble barriers in front of my open spiral staircase – can anyone blame me if I was right ready for a real dog?

Pre-Pimm-and-Polly, while still in the maybe-they-are-a-good-idea stage about a month or so ago, my son Bradley had said to me, “Mom, you have ten acres. Why do you want a dog that can live in an apartment? Why don’t you get a dog that can enjoy all this space?”

Around the same time, I was in Lowe’s, a store that allows you to bring in your dog(s). From a few aisles away I saw a man with a golden retriever on a leash. I am drawn like a magnet to a beautiful dog, so I approached and he gladly let me pet her. In his shopping cart was another dog, a dachshund I think, something small anyway. “She’s so beautiful,” I said about his golden as I stroked her gorgeous fur, glancing up at the other dog as well, as if some of my praise could waft in that dog’s direction. Nice little dog I’m sure. Fair’s fair after all. Well, sort of fair. I continued petting the golden.

“Thank you,” he said, clearly pleased that his gorgeous animal had been noticed and admired. Motioning to the smaller dog he said, “My wife and I always had big dogs, and then our last one passed and we were without a dog. Some friends of ours were getting one of these and there was one left in the litter and my wife and I said, Okay, sure, let’s get a small dog. About four years later I told her, Honey, I need a real dog.”

Much as Bradley’s advice and this incident might have (should have?) weighed into my initial decision to get Pimm and Polly, neither did. I did recall it all later, however, while trying to fall asleep late at night as the two of them on the floor of my bedroom groomed each other like baboons with incessant licking that sounded like wild, snorting boars foraging for truffles at the roots of giant oaks in an ancient forest.

Right after Pimm and Polly left, Lincoln and the girls had arrived. With them came Willow, their six-month-old golden. She is not exactly a lap dog, though Samuel gave it a try.

Samuel and Willow.2mp.jpg

She is however – let there be no doubt about it – a real dog. She was as cute as a golden retriever puppy can be when she was six weeks old and enduring January in Vermont.

puppy1.2mp.jpg

She even fit in their (standard size) mailbox!

puppy2 cropped.jpg

By six months old she fetches a tennis ball or a stick over and over again…

Willow and stick2.2mp.jpg

 

 

…astonishing me with her grace, speed, energy, stamina and strength. Everything in this young body works! Her fur is soft as silk, her teeth white as snow, her eyes clear and bright and happy. She is picture-perfect and real-life-perfect.

Willow (2).2mp.jpg

 

 

A dog like this doesn’t come along every day. She brings me the gooky tennis ball with that look that says You know you want to whack it down the driveway! I’ll go get it! I will! I’ll bring it back to you and you can whack it again! You know you want to! And I get to watch her run after that ball. I stare in wonder at her perfect form and perfect face. I think she’s happy to be alive, and I found myself happy to be near her and with her.

I think someday I need a dog that needs and wants to walk and run and play, a dog that follows me to the chicken coop and the garden, that learns to come, sit, stay and heel, that makes me stare in awe. We’ll see. One of these days the right dog for me will come along.

 

6 thoughts on ““Honey, I Need a Real Dog”

  1. So glad my daughter wasn’t around when you had to give those cuties up; she has a problem. I’ve told her, no more animals! It can be difficult finding just the right match, but I’m sure you’ll find a good friend when the time is right! I really enjoyed your post! Mona

    Like

    • Thank you, Mona — as time goes on I see things more clearly, and in this case I see that what was so hard about sending them back was not the listening part (the rational and helpful input from various friends and family members), not the making a decision part (I knew what was best), but the actual having to send them back! That’s when I cried and wanted to pet them one last time. If a child had been involved (especially a child I love) and that child had formed an attachment, i don’t know what I would have done!
      Thank you for your kind feedback. I really appreciate it. All in good time, as they say…

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Gee, that’s pretty weird, Evelyn’s absurdity regarding blindness. Good of you not to call her on it. I would have a tough time restraining myself. Most inconsistencies from people really bug me.

    I had a pug who went deaf and I had him for fourteen years. When he went blind as well he became very depressed and had to be euthanized. He was the most sociable dog I ever had. He loved everybody and vice versa. My current dog is anything but sociable but loyal to the death. Blue heeler; Australian cattle dog. I love him for his superior intelligence. He can even tell time, I swear. I tell him how long I’ll be gone in minutes and he settles down and waits. Night and day difference between the two dogs.

    Sounds like you have a good handle on where to jump.

    Like

    • At one point I was thinking maybe it’s better if I keep needy dogs because I still love Coco and maybe the back of my mind was telling me not to replace her, that no dog could replace her. I mentioned this to Samuel and he said Mom, that’s dumb. You had five children. You didn’t love me less because you already had four, did you? (Of course not.) Like your dogs, Rob, they are all different, all children, all dogs, and all have their amazing abilities and their lifelong challenges. We somehow love them all, somehow find the love within our hearts, even if that love appears differently at different times. Can’t say I ever heard of a dog that tells the time though!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Oh, good! I know it was hard but I’m totally on board with your decision, and with Evelyn’s blunt old-lady wisdom. You need a dog that will give you joy and help your day, not stress you out. ❤

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s