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An Unlikely Pet Story

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An Unlikely Pet Story photo 1

A boy and his dog, Nazareth Ilit, Israel, circa 1974

Piku stole my husband's heart over 20 years ago and I’m working on getting it back. I call it Operation Get a Dog and it’s a full force attack.

The history is poignantly clear. A whimpering puppy left to die in a Galilean dumpster, a five-year old boy, a dramatic rescue. Fourteen years and many shared steaks later, the boy kisses the dog good bye and bravely sets out to defend his country. Am Yisrael Chai. Poor dog drops dead that very week and the young soldier decides his beloved Piku cannot, will not, must not ever be replaced.

Heartbreaking, I know.

But I want a dog, dammit. And so do our two daughters.

Six-year old Emma is the most rational and mature about it. You lost your best friend and that makes you sad, Abba – but at least you had a best friend all those years. Yes, dogs shed hair - but so do we. Yes, dogs have accidents - but so do we.  (And by the way, I want a girl dog. I don't like penises - they look like worms.)

Five-year old Noa just bats her blue eyes and turns on her blonde ringlet charm. Please, Abba?

And me, I whine. It's not fair. Every kid needs a pet. Our yard is fenced in. You work from home. It’s my 40th birthday. Our house needs more love. Blah, blah, blah. My dog died, too. Get over it.

None of these strategies seemed to be working. The answer was always no. Not maybe. Not we’ll see. Just flat out no.

Until one afternoon in July, the Hoffmans ask us to dog sit Buddy. I say yes and he doesn’t say no.

Buddy the English Spaniel – our protagonist, our hero – comes from a kosher home; his family is shomer shabbos. It’s a fact I ponder for about three seconds before concluding he'll be fine with us, treif and all. What’s Shabbat for a dog? Isn’t every day Shabbat for a dog?

Regardless, Buddy arrives on a Sunday and within 20 minutes, he loves us unconditionally.

An Unlikely Pet Story photo 2

Dana blogs about dogs – enter Emma, Buddy and Noa.

When Noa falls down the stairs, Buddy is the first to her side, shows the most concern and offers the most comforting kisses. Emma feeds Buddy his dinner. Noa feeds him breakfast. My husband and I refresh his water bowl every 28 minutes (on average).

We walk the dog. Long, leisurely, family walks. Deep-breathing, Mama-Mia-singing, flower-sniffing, greet-neighbors-we’ve-never-seen-before walks. Stop at the park walks. Sometimes solitary, clear your head walks. When I wake up and before I go to sleep. At noon and again at 6, I love walking that dog.

Granted, I wouldn’t in January. And granted, when dogs eat grass and proceed to throw up on your bare foot, it’s gross. When the entire house is covered with a thin film of dog, it’s gross. Fresh dog poop in the morning dew, in the warm summer sun, in the evening twilight. Nothing, if not gross.

On Monday, the girls and I head off to work and camp. Early. Without any bickering. My husband and Buddy apparently spend the day bonding because by the time I get home, they’re speaking a combination of Hebrew and dog talk. Oooh, muchi puchi puchi poo, bo kelev, bo l’abba, ken, ken. And pretty soon, they’re kissing mouth to mouth.

When my family comes to pick me up from the train station the next day, guess who is sitting in my seat? (Clue: He’s furry.) Guess who Googles English Cocker Spaniel that night? (Clue: He’s bald.) Guess who asks, “what is their average life span?” Followed by, “fine, you can get a dog if you take care of it.” Ten minutes later when I say, “Honey, will you take Buddy out for his 10 PM walk,” my husband goes to fetch the leash.

An Unlikely Pet Story photo 3

The boys get acquainted.

The Hebrew word for dog, kelev, is spelled with the same three letters as k’lev, which means “like the heart”. I think if we are open to it, we can all find a little extra space in our homes and in our hearts.

We would like to adopt a young female English Cocker Spaniel. The girls want to name her Lila. Benny will teach her Hebrew. If you have leads or advice, please comment below or email me at  dmr18@aol.com .

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