Good Night, Sweet Pup
“ON MONDAY I woke up and said to your daddy, ‘Our dog is coming. I can feel it.’ I told him so every morning for the next five days.
By Friday, everything had fallen into place. Baby Emma’s mommy got home from work an hour earlier than expected, giving me just enough time to catch the cross-town bus to the Upper East Side ASPCA twenty minutes before closing time.
But when I arrived, there was no dog for us. There were plenty of dogs up for adoption that day, but they were all too big to fit in our 198 square foot Upper West Side hovel.
With a heavy heart, I apologized to every single one of them for not taking them home with me. I promised that their rightful owners would rescue them soon and that they would always be loved, no matter what.
I barely made it out the doors and onto the city sidewalk before bursting into tears. At that exact moment, the skies unloaded an inordinate dump of frigid October rain. No one noticed my sobbing. They were all too busy fawning over the little yellow dog shivering inside the cardboard box under that enormous red umbrella.
“Aww…she’s so cute! I wish I could take her home with me,” they cooed. But nobody could.
I was so sad to have left behind that shelter full of lonely, cage’d dogs that I almost didn’t see you. But then I noticed the man holding your box and recognized him as my former co-worker from the gym.
His girlfriend’s landlord had found you abandoned in an empty apartment. Knowing that she already had a Yorkshire Terrier, he brought you to her place in hopes that she could take care of you, too. But that nasty Yorkie was making your life hell and they had no choice but to drop you off at that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad shelter.
My heart couldn’t stand the thought of leaving you there, so I wrapped you in my trench coat and snuck you onto the cross-town bus. Once you were safely out of the driver’s sight, I sat you on my lap and we exchanged a long, unknowing look, as if to both ask, “Well…now what?”
When we got back to the apartment, I set you on the floor so you could get acclimated with your new home. You surveyed the joint, noticing that the entire place was no more than 16 feet wide. That’s when you gave me what would become your trademark look of ‘Oh Mommy…this will NOT do...’ judgment and subtly suggested that there were roomier accommodations at the ASPCA.
Later that night, as we snuggled, curled-up beneath the covers with your head nuzzled into my chest, I realized that you were My Dog and I promised not to leave you for as long as we both shall live.”
I told that story to my little dog PJ every year on our anniversary and any other time during our eight years together when one of us was in need of comfort. Three years ago today, I told her the story of us one last time, before leaving her in the arms of the vet who would put her to sleep.
Over the course of my lifetime, I’ve had many opportunities to love someone and let them go. PJ is the first one I have ever loved enough to hand over to God.
Originally published in Connect Savannah, (p. 61)