The author, with Sally Field.
I decided we were going to get a dog. I do things like that. I occasionally decide. They’re really more like proclamations. I’m swift and definitive. Decision making within my relationship is both my super-power and my fatal flaw. My decisions rarely make any sense and are mostly designed to keep my husband on his toes.
I had no real reason for deciding we would be dog owners. Andy had not said that he wanted a dog and I had never experienced successful pet ownership. I grew up on a farm. All of the dogs that I had growing up were run over by tractors. The odds were definitely not in our favor, but c’est la vie.
I started by randomly taking a wrong turn at Target so we would end up in the pet aisle shopping for mini-doggy tutus. I progressed to pointing out dogs everywhere we went and eventually stepped up my game with a weekly email campaign. I attached random pictures of dogs to emails and I’d send him links for different dog breeds. This is where my push began to get concrete responses. “We can’t get a Jack Russell because this says that they rely on a high level of exercise and you know we’re lazy.”
He was right of course, we aren’t active, but where do you find a dog whose favorite activity is watching The Gilmore Girls for hours on end? I dug deep and focused my research, which led me to reruns of Sex and the City. When Charlotte found her dog Elizabeth Taylor, I discovered the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
Wikipedia describes Cavaliers as being excellent lap dogs for the elderly. Perfect. I had found our match. Well, except for the part where now I had to actually find one. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels aren’t everywhere. You can’t pop down to the ASPCA and pick one up. I scoured the Internet. I joined chat rooms, list serves, email associations, and bizarre dog clubs.
My work eventually led us to a stranger’s front porch. We stood there for a moment dumbfounded. Should we be here? We don’t own so much as a houseplant. You know we’re going home with a dog. Shopping for dogs isn’t like shopping for pants. There’s always a dog that fits.
The front door flew open before we could take in a breath and we were motioned into the house and introduced to two remaining puppies. This was going to be harder than I thought. How do you choose one over the other? Sir! I can’t choose! I cannot choose! Andy and I took turns playing with each of the dogs trying to figure out what to do. How exactly do you shop for a dog? We certainly had no idea.
Somewhere in the middle of managing my anxiety, I realized that I had been gifted the right partner. I had gone catatonic the moment we entered the room, and my husband had turned into the world’s most charming person. He was performing a Broadway musical in an effort to prove us dog worthy, while I sat in silence. That’s how he works. He picks up where my crazy leaves off.
The happy family.
We chose the girl. The thought of a dog throwing his leg up and marking every inch of our apartment was what got us out of Schaumburg. The next several days were full of cursing my name while mopping up urine and picking up poo from every surface in our home. That’s the price of parenthood, I suppose.
I was scrubbing the kitchen floor when I realized that our dog needed a name. I’ve never felt so much pressure in my life. All I knew was I wanted to name our dog after a celebrity so I could say things like, “Hugh Jackman will not stop humping my leg!” It was a rerun of Soap Dish that got us to the finish line. Who doesn’t want to spend their life with Sally Field?
I now find myself waking up in the middle of the night to make sure Sally is breathing or driving across country for vacations so that she can come along. A couple months ago our family was gathered together to light the menorah for Chanukah while Sally was safely crated in our bedroom and all I could think was, “What would Sally think of this?” I think that means I’ve become a crazy dog person.
Finding Sally has taught me that I am in charge of building my family. Jewish families come in all shapes and colors and sizes. Mine happens to have two dudes and an Oscar winning dog. You can build your own however you like. The early days of poop on the floor seem like a lifetime ago. My days are now filled with the pitter-patter of little doggy feet and I wouldn’t change a thing. I can’t imagine our life without Sally Field. That’s not something I expected. The older I get the more I understand that the best things in life aren’t.