Friday, May 7, 2010

The Adoption

All day long, I was watching the clock. I wanted to get out of that school and go see that puppy. I practically knocked over the students when the bell rang. Normally teachers are supposed to wait a while before the leave, but screw that. I had places to be. I flew down Hampton Avenue per my Google Map I had printed to find this place. I got there in record time and walked into this stark white building. All I had was a number and a name to identify Gretchen. I did not print out a picture – stupid. Always print out a picture. I just walked around this long hallway very clueless. “Excuse me, I am looking for Gretchen, number 594029?” I asked a woman who looked employed.
“Is it a puppy or an adult?”
“Oh, I, uh, don’t know. It didn’t say.”
“Check the adult section.” I walked into the door that housed the adult dogs. That is a heart breaking experience. Those dogs once had homes, and now they were here, - caged. I walked past them all, apologizing as I went:  Sorry, you are cute, but my apartment is smaller than you. You look mean, I know it is not your fault, someone hurt you I’m sure, but I have a nephew, and you might eat him. I know. I know you are scared, but you are too old, I need to walk a dog.
Gretchen wasn’t there and I could feel the tears well up in sympathy for these poor creatures. I had to get out of there. I went back into the hallway. Another woman walked by. “I’m looking for Gretchen.”
“Check the puppies.” Oh, please. Not a puppy. Puppies are annoying.
I walked in to the cacophony of puppy barks. These guys were crazy! They were trying to eat through their cages and were pooping all over. My senses were on overload.
Then I saw her. Sitting in a cage on the floor. Her body shaking, her tongue hanging out – not barking like the others – and her eyes fixed on me. They simply said, “Get me out of here.” I looked at the card on the cage. “Gretchen. Special Needs. Age unknown.”
Special Needs. What did that mean? She wasn’t barking, she looked sweet. What was the need?
A woman dressed in scrubs walked in. “Excuse me, but what does special needs mean?”
“Oh, that’s Gretchen. Yes, she as rescue from the flood this spring. She gets ear infections constantly. We mark dogs as special needs so you know.”
“Know what?”
“Well, honey, that they will require lots of vet visits, money and time. They might not live as long as a regular dog and will be sick a lot.”
Here’s what I heard. “Blahbalbhalhba. Blah. Blah blah blah. Blahlahlahl.”
“How old is she?”
“Ehhh, we don’t know. She was abandoned and don’t have teeth, so we aren’t sure.  She’s between 1 and 4.”
Done. “I want to adopt her.”
The woman looked shocked. “Oh, well she is a sweetheart, but she requires a good home.”
I look young. And dumb. It’s my blonde hair or my 5 foot tall stature, or something, but I know this woman thought I was going to just put Gretchen in my purse and feed her cheeseburgers.
“I know. I want to adopt her.” This dog was pleading to me. I had to help her.
She got Gretchen out of her cage and took both of us into this little visiting room while she went and did a FBI background check and credit score run on me of something.  Gretchen and I just kinda stared at each other. It was like an awkward date.
“So, um. Hi. I’m uh, going to take you home.”
“Ear infections, huh? So, uh, do those hurt or just itch?”
“Gosh, I um, didn’t really bring anything. Are you hungry?”
She came over and I petted her head. We sat there until the woman came back in. I was legal and approved. I paid the money, filled out the pages of paperwork, bought a rhinestone studded leash and collar set at the gift store and took Gretchen home.

I didn’t like 'Gretchen'. My parents had a dachshund named Gretchen and that felt wrong to have two dogs with the same name. I was driving Gretchen home and this jackass stopped short at the stoplight, “Gretchennnnn!” I yelled as she flew into the dashboard. She looked at me in shock and I just smiled. My favorite playwright is Tennessee Williams. He wrote Streetcar Named Desire. That is the one where Stanley Kowalski yells, "Stella!!" from the street.
“You’re Stella, aren’t you?” Of course she was. It made sense. The ugly sister. This dog was ugly. But there was a charm in her that turned the ugly into beautiful. Just like Stella. The name was done. 

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