Monday, November 29, 2010

Change is Instant

Charlie's eyes nearly popped out of her head when Rocket came through the door. She raced under the couch. I know how she felt. My eyes were bugging, too. This was Rocket’s new home. I felt like I should be giving him the grand tour, but instead, I was shell-shocked. Our “family” had increased from 3 to 4 in a matter of seconds. I felt the sudden urge to do damage control rather than throw a welcome party.

Rocket was interested in Charlie. He eagerly staggered through the house sniffing for her. She tucked her body down tighter under the sofa. There were barks and hisses. We held Rocket back and peeled Charlie out from her hiding spot, threw her into the bedroom and closed the door. We all needed a moment to think about what was happening. What was the best thing to do? What if Rocket didn’t like cats? Why hadn't I thought of this before? Charlie was my baby first. They would have to get along. Have to. Everyone would need to be happy with the arrangement for this to work, or maybe we just needed ground rules. So it was decided:

Rule #1: “No eating one another.”

Thursday, November 18, 2010

New Dog Bliss

There was a brief moment of new dog bliss. The actual “meeting” of Rocket took place in the side yard at my house. I had simply gone through the motion of driving to pick him up; but as I sat there in the grass in my comfy clothes, delirious with jet lag, I couldn’t comprehend if he was really there in front of me—really mine—or if I was just imagining him. His tail wagged constantly, as he clumsily walked in circles around me, alternately sniffing the ground and flopping down, smiling and looking disinterested, kissing me and not meeting my eye. I’m not sure I said much, but rather watched, half asleep, what felt like a beautiful dream. I am grateful Amanda took pictures of the event otherwise I wouldn’t have much memory of it at all. Looking back, I had no idea how varied Rocket's expressions were. These "looks" held much insight into his dynamic personality, (I was just too tired to pay attention at the time). I couldn't tell if he was okay with being where he was, I just knew he looked happy. I looked happy, too. We were happy in that moment, settling into our new dream.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Baby Brother

No one asked Charlie the cat if she wanted a “sibling.” No one even warned her. We had left her home alone, with cat sitters popping in and out, for two weeks. Her sweet face and giant eyes were clearly visible in the window as we pulled into the drive—we could hear her wailing through the glass. Amanda and I stumbled through the front door with our heavy load of suitcases, carry-ons, bags of dog food, dog toys, a dog bed, and large metal crate that we had hurriedly purchased on the way back from the airport. Charlie was practically screaming. We scooped her up to shower her with affection and apologies, but she quickly jumped down to smell the new ‘things’ in the house, crying the whole time.

The goal was to set everything up and then I would go get the puppy. We rushed around as much as our tired bodies would allow. The sun was setting quickly—the night of severe jet lag and anxiety was already upon us. Charlie was a never-ending siren in the background. Her meows were filled with complaining and relief. There was desperate rubbing and petting as she zig-zagged between our legs. She had a lot to tell us, she stayed too near. (‘Underfoot’ doesn’t come close to describing her actions that night. What’s a word more severe than ‘underfoot’?)

We scurried around, puppy proofing in record time, then I was out the door again. If a cat’s jaw can drop open with shock, hers did. We’d just arrived and I was abandoning her again. Oh, if she only knew then the true depth of my betrayal. I didn’t turn around to get one last look at my life the way it was. I was sure I had already messed it up beyond recognition anyway.

“If only I had a little more time,,” I told Amanda. “I should have read more books about how to bring a puppy home the right way.”

“Too late,” she quipped and closed the door with a ceremonial “thud.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

In Training

So the real reason I haven’t posted anything in a while is this: all of my fantastical ideas about wanting a dog turned out to be completely different than actually having a dog. The idea of Rocket captivated my thoughts—the vision of him in my life somehow made my dreams feel closer to coming true. I wasn’t ready for all the complex emotions and massive amounts of patience it would require to keep, care for, and train a sick puppy. “I don’t know this dog,” kept running through my head, and yet he was supposed to be ‘the one’ for me. And I apparently didn’t know myself, either. In the following blog posts, I’m going to be candid about the fact that I was not a perfect dog rescuer/owner. I was a blundering, impressionable idiot at times—I still have my moments. A true member of the “I may be a grown up, but grown ups have no idea what they are doing” club. (I believe it is healthy to admit this). I was not proud of all of my choices. I was not always happy about having the burden of an animal. But, [whew] the lessons I did learn were big, and on some level I deeply loved Rocket. Still do. I was smitten with the hairless wonder of a dog that still lives with me today. Hopefully you can tell from the pictures that will accompany the posts that, while there were an abundance of rough patches, it wasn’t always unpleasant. Most importantly, we were learning. We’re still ‘in training,’ if only because we’re living life.