Things Change

At one point in my life my credo was: No people, pets or plants. I liked things simple and uncluttered. (I still do.) When it was time to move residences, I always saw it as an opportunity to purge myself of all unnecessary things and to say I pack light is an understatement.

The no people thing went out the window when out came my son. Our second home (the first was a third floor flat in San Francisco) came with all sorts of greenery. It was only a matter of time before the pet part of my credo was put to rest.

A few years ago we dabbled in pet ownership (but no plants so I was one for three) with a very affectionate cat. This cat was more like a dog in some ways which is why I agreed to welcome him into our flat. Then I began to notice some disturbing things, mostly that he slept ALL day. I sincerely thought he was depressed and was frustrated when I couldn’t find anything in Cats for Dummies about it. (I did read about cats going psycho and from then on was on pins and needles waiting for the cat to turn on us.) I also realized I wasn’t a cat person. Some people are, like my nephew, but I’m not one of them. We found him a good home and I got over my guilt as soon as the residual cat hair and litter box smell went away.

Aside from the kid, I enjoyed a couple years of pet and plant free life. Then came the house and the one thing we promised the kid was a dog. We’d uprooted him from his beloved school, his best friend and the only home he’d ever known—the least we could do was get him a dog. Right?

There was talk of a Westie (the husband’s German family has one and she’s great) but I was adamant: If we (meaning me) were going to take on the responsibility for another living thing, it had to come from the pound. It would be the right thing to do. And so when I saw an ad in my local paper for a pet rescue fair I cut it out and stuck it on the fridge. (Yes, even I was surprised at myself.)

We drove up to the park where the fair was being held (Seminars! Product Displays! Celebrities who Love Pets!) and found it to be humming with activity and no parking. The husband dropped us off, but before pulling away decreed that I wasn’t allowed to pick a dog without him.

I found our dog before he even made it down the block. Man, she was a wreck. She’d been taken to the pound the day before and was so timid she wouldn’t walk. The kid, nervous around so many dogs, asked if we could do a meet and greet off to the side. After a little while they were running around and her tail was up. (We had thought it was broken since it had been curled under her the whole time.) It was settled. She had a calm (read: comatose) disposition and was the right size to fight through the doggie door our new house had come with. There was only the little matter of getting her fixed and her name. The one she came with left lots to be desired.

At seven or so months, her handler said it would be OK to rename her so we went to lunch and made lists. None seemed to fit.

The next day I got the call from the vet saying she was ready to be picked up. (Los Angeles County will not allow you to adopt a pet unless it is spade or neutered.) And since the hospital was on the way to my son’s school, I swung by to get her. She still wouldn’t walk, was groggy from the anesthesia and still nameless.

I was all a twitter, even more excited than when I brought my newborn son home. (OK, it’s a given that I was a little tired and freaked out by what had just happened to my vagina.) On our way home the kid and I discussed names. And then on the radio (Classical KUSC) a lovely Schubert sonata came on. And I said “How about Schubert?” My kid, who had suggested Apple more than once, said “I like it.” The husband couldn’t argue since Franz Schubert is from Austria and Austria is right next to Germany. Plus, he didn’t have any viable suggestions.

All the reasons why I said I didn’t want a pet have come to pass, but she’s a keeper. Despite the smell (she smells, well, like dog), the affinity for chewing paper to shreds, the need to have her belly scratched and occasionally jumping on the bed, she’s a good dog.

It’s the lawn that’s worrying me now. It’s looking a little brown.

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