The article stated that a goldfish wouldn’t cut it. You needed something you could cuddle and walk with, that you could, you know, love. Best move? Get a puppy.
I brought it up with the therapist. She said I must be crazy. I said, I know, that’s why I see a therapist. Nonetheless, six months later I adopted a three-month-old, female golden retriever.
Not that Tom and I were new to canine parenthood. We’d had a couple of dogs for ages. Then, last summer, just as Oliver (breed: also a golden) turned eight years old, his sidekick Joe (breed: brown and cranky) died at fourteen, leaving all of us bereft.
While Tom and I rebounded in a suitable period of time, Oliver continued to lie in a depressed heap for weeks, crying in his sleep. So lethargic and forlorn, the dog wore down my resistance to the idea of finding him a new companion.
Tom was also lying in a depressed heap and crying in his sleep because he was about to turn sixty. I was not all that sympathetic: I had just turned sixty-five for Pete’s sake. “Cry me a river,” I’d snark.
But I did want to ease Tom’s pain with a spectacular birthday surprise, and he was longing for another dog. He launched what he thought was a subtle campaign, posting irritatingly cute videos of puppies on Instagram every day.
I had many lively arguments with myself on the puppy subject, weighing the pros and the cons.
1. My Manolo pumps would be reduced to chew toys.
2. I would have to dress exclusively in running shoes and sweatpants, at least in the early months. (This is a look I’d sworn I would renounce at my age.)
3. I would have to spend hours every day teaching the dog where to pee, time I’d normally use for, say, a mani-pedi or other worthwhile pursuits.
4. I’m pretty sure that at least once a day I’d be scraping dog poop off my Nikes with an old toothbrush
5. It would be I, not my husband, who would be getting the wake up paw-in-the-face at 6 a.m. and would have to cope.
1, I would get a lot more exercise, chasing the puppy up and down the stairs shrieking, “Potty outside!”
2. I could boss her around, which would satisfy my inner control freak.
3. People would find her so cute, they might think I was cute by association.
4. She would earn me lots of ‘likes’ on Instagram.
5. My husband would be so grateful he would buy me diamond earrings.
But it was none of the above that finally tipped me.
It was that Tom and I spend much time pursuing our separate interests: I like the theater and fine dining, while Tom likes sports and…well, sports. Raising a puppy would be something we could engage in together, adding new zing and complexity to our 25-year-old marriage.
Any doubts I had were dispelled when I gave Tom his barking birthday gift: he gasped with surprise and wept with pleasure. He loved her immediately and named her Cali, our California girl. He swore he’d be eternally grateful and would faithfully scoop the poop.
So, that was nice, but I soon realized that in the eight years since Oliver’s arrival, I’d forgotten what the first months of puppy-rearing are like. As with childbirth, if you remembered how these things went down you might not want to repeat the experience.
Details to follow in an upcoming post…