My sisters kept telling me that it was not good for me to be alone. If I had a dog, they would say, I would meet the neighbors walking outside with dogs, maybe even a woman with a dog.
But I was not ready.
My wife left me. I had to sell our business. Our children went to college. So I rented a one-room cottage in Mar Vista, with no room for dogs or anyone else.
Strange as it may sound, I never thought I would live so long. My father died at the age of 47. He died of a heart attack. I never realized that I could or should live better than my father. I was then 47 years old. I believed that I would die at my father’s age. But the date of his death came and went, and the shadow that my father had left in my life began to fade.
I quit smoking, modified my kids, bought a bike and took a long ride by the sea. I hiked in the mountains and planted my first garden, tomatoes and pole beans, but I still haven’t found a dog.
I found a job producing audiobooks. I directed radio plays for fun. I met a woman in one of those plays. We had an affair. She did not have a dog, but she had a cat and a husband. Our romance was vague, but it opened my heart for the first time since my divorce. However, I was not ready to take the dog yet.
Instead, I started dancing. When I was 13, I became the stand-in dancing partner of my older sisters. They need a man to practice before they go on dates. I remembered how much fun dancing was, so I signed up for East Coast Swing Classes at the Pasadena Ballroom Dance Essence.
I saw Trish there for the first time, although I could not dance with her. The boy she had didn’t let her dance with anyone else. Six months later he left, so I asked Trish to dance. He grabbed my hand.
My sisters were happy. I finally met a woman with a dog, actually two dogs. Jesse and Sidney were Tris’s dogs, but they were nearing the end of their lives.
Sydney died first. She had Cushing’s disease. Four months later, her classmate, Jesse, was diagnosed with head and neck cancer. He too could not be saved. I went with Tris when she took Jesse to the animal hospital for the last time.
A veterinary assistant took us to a small room. He took the trembling little dog away to prepare himself. A tube hung from Jesse’s leg as she pulled him back. The veterinarian placed a towel under Jesse and placed him on a metal table.
The vet came inside. He inserted the needle into the tube. She looked at Tris and asked quietly, “Okay?”
Trish shook his head. The veterinarian pushed the needle plunger. Jesse nodded, sat up, then closed his eyes. After a while, his heart stopped. Her body collapsed and her bowels were released.
The veterinarian cried this many times. Trish held back her tears as she kissed Jesse. We went to a nearby bar, and Trish cried. Tears eased her pain, but grief was always a distant memory.
“The house feels empty without Jesse and Sydney,” Trish told me.
She remembers how they barked in the morning traffic, then ran down the stairs, how their dog’s tags slammed into their bins. When Tris came home from work, Jesse and Sidney met her at the front door. Jesse danced at Tris’s feet, and Sydney happily ran up and down the hall.
After they left, Trish couldn’t bring himself to scatter his ashes. Their straps were still hanging in the closet.
A year later, though, Trish found herself scrolling through the funny dog videos on the web. “I’m just looking at the dogs,” she told me. One day she clicked a link and found herself at a dog rescue site.
One woman held a small dog in her arms. He walked his way over her face and kissed her. She called him little boyfriend. Like Kuma, he kissed her again. The woman turned to the camera and said, “If you want more kisses in your life, this is the dog for you.” Trish asked me to watch the video.
“Do you want to adopt him?”
“I don’t think I can go through the pain of losing another dog,” Trish told me.
However, she kept watching the video of this little dog. He asked me the same question.
“Why doesn’t anyone raise this cute little dog?”
“Maybe he’s already adopted it. They might have forgotten to take the video down,” I said.
Tris called Baldwin Park Animal Shelter to find out. The little dog was still available for adoption. The clerk added, “She has been here for 19 days.”
Tris knew what that meant. County shelters were crowded and low-income. Dogs were usually euthanized after 15 days.
“We have to see him before it’s too late,” Trish told me.
So on a rainy winter night, we drove 20 miles to the shelter. We haven’t talked about what we can do. We didn’t know
The traffic was light at this time of night. The shelter closed at 7 pm. When we got there, it was 6:50 pm. The door was open, but a man stopped us.
“We’re closing in five minutes. Come back tomorrow.”
Trish begged him. “We just want to see the little dog you saw in one of your videos.”
“We have hundreds of dogs here. Their numbers are on the computer. But it’s closed for the night.”
“I have his number.” Trish showed the man.
“Okay, but you only have five minutes,” he said.
A young volunteer led us into the dark canals. The dogs started barking, asking for attention. Some did not see, their resignation is even more sad.
The little dog we came to see was hanging in a dark cage with a Chihuahua.
“Can we see him in the light?” Trish asked.
“The light is good in the dog race,” said the volunteer.
It was just a plowed hallway. The lights didn’t work, but the little dog felt free. He charged at the hallway and turned around. Tris knelt down and grabbed him. He gave her a big kiss.
“Do you want to adopt him?” The volunteer asked.
“Can we think about it?” Trish said.
I could not take the opportunity. If we don’t take care of this little dog properly, he could accidentally die in the morning.
Words burst from me.
“We’re taking this little dog home tonight.”
This was my Trice’s vow, but the volunteers were worried.
“It’s okay. I have to ask the office. It’s time to close.”
Tris and I were waiting in the lobby. The manager then called us to the counter. “So you’re the ones who want us to stay up late so you can raise dogs.”
“We’ve come a long way,” Trish said.
“The credit card machine is down. We don’t accept checks. Hope you got the cash. It’s 80 80.”
We gave him the money, and he gave us a form. “Only your name and address, leave the rest.”
“Do you know how old he is?” Trish asked.
The manager turned over some papers. “Says about a year here.”
“Do you know anything about him?”
“Dog catchers picked him up on December 9. Someone called us. A missing dog was reported. The mission was near fast-food outlets.
“Are you looking for him?”
“No, don’t think so. But he has a cough. These antibiotics will clear it up.”
He handed Trice a packet of mills. “Bring him back when the cough has stopped. We will fix it for free. ”
The volunteer brought the little dog inside from the kennel. Trish picked him up.
“He’s a cute dog,” the manager said. “But if you don’t like him, we have a seven-day refund policy, no questions asked.”
There is no voice in the fate of the dog. Our little rescue doodle was a stray on the street; No one knew for how long. The fact that he was cute made her worthy of adoption so he was still alive. The antics of her kiss-face depicted her in the rescue video, a new way to find homes for these abandoned dogs.
Trish and I took the step that love takes us. We embraced this little dog. My sisters will be happy. I finally got a dog, but because Trish opened my heart and I followed him. Love is productive. Two people want to be three, even for a couple who have not reached the age of childbearing.
The author is a three-time Grammy winner. He and his wife, Tracy, are now working on a series of short pieces about living and learning with a rescue doodle named Woody.
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