Friday, April 30, 2010

The Beginning

I knew what I was getting in to.
No, wait that is a lie. I didn’t care what I was getting in to. I was a single girl living alone in Saint Louis,
Missouri. I am also a theatre teacher and director at a local high school. My time was spent going from work for twelve to sixteen hours a day to bars to spread my single love. I did not know if I could have time for a dog.  I was raised with dogs and knew the importance of taking care of your responsibility. It would never be fair to have a dog who was home alone in a stinky apartment just so I could have my face licked by someone other than the greasy bouncer at Cusamano’s bar.
Then I went to Quincy. My older sister, Sally, lives there with her family and her special needs dog, Jake.
Jake has three legs. Jake is a wiener dog. Jake has breath that smells oddly of fish. Oddly because I don’t
think he has ever actually eaten a fish. But Jake is a sprightly little guy whom I love. My sister know this
and when she and her family decided to head out on vacation a few years back, I went to Quincy to chill
 with them before their trip.
“Oh, by the way, Jake is coming home with you.”
“What the hell?!”
“Well, you’re here. And he goes with you or goes to the kennel.” Damn. I hate kennels.
How long are you going to be gone?”
“Two weeks.” Damn.
I took the jumpy lil’ wiener, his food and all of his doggy supplies and headed home. I just knew I would kill this dog. I didn’t have time for a dog. Why had my sister chosen me? Didn’t she know that Jake would end up dead? Or at least depressed because I ignored him for two weeks?
When we got home, I fed Jake his food and we took a walk around my complex for a while. Refreshing. Then we relaxed on the couch. It was nice to talk to someone. Even if he didn’t talk back.
That next morning, I woke up at 5. I usually wake up at 6. But I had to walk Jake, feed Jake and snuggle Jake a little. I didn’t have a play or musical in production, so I was going to be home early, but still – 9 hours alone in my apartment? I figured I had to get a little love in before I left.
All day I thought about Jake. Was Jake sleeping? What he eating my shoes? Was he wondering why his real mommy had made him come to a place that smelled oddly of curry?
At four o’clock, I rushed home. No pee. All shoes in tack. We walked around the neighborhood again. It was a beautiful day in late April. I never walked around. I was always embarrassed to walk outside. I don’t know why, I guess since I couldn’t run more than a half a mile without asking for God to strike my down, I was always aware that I looked like the fat girl walking laps. I know. I am weird. You will learn that is a bigger statement of reality the longer this blog goes on. But with a dog, I didn’t look like the fat girl. I looked like the dog owner. Jake was my workout decoy. We walked until the hop became more pronounced. Jake is missing his front right leg from an accident he was in as a puppy. No one knows the details because Sally and her husband, Jason, rescued Jake after his amputation. He hops everywhere and it doesn’t slow him down too much. But he did get tired after and while and to be honest so did I. We went back home, ate some dinner and snuggled on the couch watching Golden Girls.
And so it went for two weeks. I liked having Jake. I wasn’t lonely, I wasn’t going to the bars as much, I was walking twice a day and well – it was nice not being selfish.
I wrote my twin sister, Hannah, an email the next day. “So, I think I can handle a dog.”
“What, really?!” Hannah too was the proud owner of two dogs and a special needs cat. Noticing a trend here?
“Well, yeah, I have had Jake and it’s not too bad.  I think I could make this work.”
Oh, was Hannah a happy girl! “Ooooh! How fun is this going to be?! Okay, what do you want?”
“I live in a cardboard box of an apartment, so small.”
“Small. Got it.”
“No bark, little, young.”
“What? Yeah. I like that dog off of Men in Black. He’s a cutie. Frank.”
“Got it.”
“Oh…and no puppies.” I was not blessed with patience enough for potty training.
And she was gone off chat. An hour later, the pictures started rolling in. Hannah had gone online and hit every breed rescue and shelter that had pictures on its site. There were Jack Russells (too hyper), Dachshunds (too barky – Jake was going to get me in trouble if he stayed much longer) Pomeranians, (too weird. They’re just weird) and mixed breeds (cute.) My heart wasn’t soaring. But Hannah was having fun and I let her keep going.
The next morning, my email inbox was almost maxed out. There was no way I was going to get through all of these doggie profiles. So I skimmed the subject boxes.
Here’s one.
 Old, but cute.
 Could work.
Then I saw the subject heading – OMG!
A 28 year old woman rarely uses this phrase. Intrigued, I clicked on the page. And a doggie mommy was born. There was a picture of the cutest dog I had ever seen. 

Her eyes were crossed and buggy, she was spotted black and white like a Dalmatian, but looked like she was going bald, and her tongue was hanging out of her closed mouth. Was she smiling? I thought so. My heart was captured. Gretchen, as she had been named, was located at the Humane Society of Missouri. I called them, “What time are you open until today? Do you still have Gretchen?” They were open until 6, and yes, they still had her.
Poor Jake was going to have to wait for his walk. I had a dog to get.


  1. I'm just glad you got a dog that made Jake seem less special by comparison!

  2. Stella is a multiple bunch of messes, and I adore her. Can't even tell you how she works her magic and charm on you. She is a doggie example of how you soldier on when your special needs are piling up. May I get to feed her venison and sweet potatoes, and dried carrot treats for a very long time. She is so lucky to have Leah, and Leah is so lucky to have her...............