Over the years, the fibbing has multiplied along with the number of four-legged and finned creatures in our homes.
At the time we sold our first books–to the same publisher, for the same line—Carolyn and I also both had beloved dogs that kept us company as we wrote. She had Bob Barker, a giant golden retriever, as friendly as all get out, and I had my Chauncie, who, despite being given an English butler’s name by her previous owner, was a gentle female collie mix.
When our dear companions passed away, the similarity between Carolyn and me became quite pronounced: We realized we were both married to the same man.
“Do not get another dog right away,” Carolyn’s husband requested. “We have kids and bills. I loved Bob, but let’s take a break.”
I believe that at the exact same moment and in the exact same pleading tone, my man said, “Please wait a year before you bring anything else live into this house. You know I loved that dog, but the shedding was unbearable. Let’s leave everything as it is.”
Well. Naturally, we agreed, because we care about our husbands’ needs, and they had always embraced our pets with love (eventually). Waiting was the least we could do.
Carolyn waited one week. I held off nine days, which felt like a year.
The other thing Carolyn and I have in common: We don’t like to grieve.
I contend our husbands must have known, deep down, that “no pets” was a mandate we would rationalize our way around sooner rather than later, because they added admonitions, and you don’t do that if you think the original request is going to be honored. Right?
Their stipulations were as follows.
From Carolyn’s husband: Housebroken. Nothing large. The dog must be spayed and have celebrated its five-year birthday before its paws cross the threshold.
From my husband: Under forty pounds. Housebroken. No shedding. Not a barker. No shedding. Doesn’t chase cats. No shedding. Won’t eat us out of house and home. No shedding.
Carolyn got a puppy. Adorable. A golden retriever like Bob, destined to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as largest golden in history. Not quite housebroken what with being under ten weeks old and all at the time of his adoption, but he figured out the difference between the Berber carpet and the acre of backyard behind the house. Eventually.
I went to a local animal rescue. And because there were no dogs available matching my husband’s requirements, I decided to soothe my grieving heart by volunteering.
Enter Rusty. A German shepherd-Akita cross who required a place to stay while he recuperated from a leg wound. Rusty couldn’t “relax,” apparently, with other males around (he was very sensitive), and this hindered his recuperation. Rusty was a big loverboy in the shelter. He gave me his tennis ball then rested his forehead against my stomach. Yes, he was tall and a little bit over forty pounds (approximately sixty pounds over), but how could I turn my back?
“Is he safe with cats?” I asked, heeding at least one of my husband’s requirements.
“Dunno,” they said.
I mean, he was such a sweetheart. Plus, it was only temporary, and I defy anyone else to guess that Rusty had rage issues….
Part Two Next Thursday.