Barking Up the Right Tree

It’s official: We’re no longer going to be a pet-less house. We’re getting a dog. This proclamation comes after nearly two years of being without a pet (and I’m not counting Gilbert the Goldfish. Sorry, Gil, but if I can’t put my arm around your neck . . . if you don’t even have a neck . . . ya don’t count), an era where I somehow got the reputation of being an anti-caninite.

I don’t know how that happened, because I’ve always been a dog lover. I grew up with dogs and then as soon as I was married, started getting dogs for my own households. I was the primary care-giver, #1 walker, pill dispenser, ear-drop giver, poop-picker-upper, chicken-flavored-toothpaste-tooth-brusher, throw-up-and-diarrhea-cleaner-upper, let-her-lick-my-hand-until-it’s-raw-er of our family. But when our third dog, Grace died, I felt like I had paid my dues and those of all mothers everywhere: I had provided a home with a dog for our children. This brought me that much closer to being June Cleaver than any carb-laden casserole I ever made. We had been a house with a dog. Simple as that. But now that our children were grown up and my husband and I were on to other things - things that did not involve monitoring any bowel and bladder functions other than our very own - it seemed unnecessary to carry the dog thing any further.

I loved dog sitting and listening to our friends talk about their dogs’ antics. I still walked on the dog beach, where my husband and I made up conversations among the cast of characters who were regulars on Sunday mornings. My non-human Facebook friends steadily increased. But our own house remained dogless.

And then last Saturday night I went to a dog rescue organization’s fundraiser, wore a sparkly pair of heels, had too much to drink and ended up on the floor with a coon hound, my purple dress covered in shedding fur. The intoxicating combination of dog breath and wine were too much for me to withstand. It was a perfect storm where adoption papers are bound to appear. We bonded over a shared sense of sheepishness over my sparkly shoes and the jingle-bell antler ears she was wearing.

“So did you go to the event intending to adopt a dog, or did you just have too many cocktails?” my sister Kathy asked me a couple days later. I didn’t have to answer. You know: If you know enough to ask the question . . . 

This dog is very cute. Her name is Abby. Here’s a picture of her:

I expect to spend a few more nights on the floor with her. I don’t think she’ll care if I’m taking a load off from spike heels or if I’ve had one glass of wine too many. She’ll put up with my baby talk and in return I’ll clean up her vomit when she eats an entire rosemary plant and a load of dirty underwear.

My brother, the coon hound dog expert, tells me this dog likes to run. Given the opportunity, she’s likely to start running and keep running until she gets the scent of a raccoon. Then she’ll chase it up a tree and wait until someone comes to shoot it. In Palm Beach County, Florida, that could be at least a couple of blocks, I’m guessing. Can I interest you in an iguana or an overgrown exotic snake? Just don’t bring it home. I’m not cleaning up that.

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