Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's All We Have

About 8 years ago I bought a pair of leather sandals at an art fair. I never really wore them until I moved to the heat of St. George, and since then, I have worn them practically every day. I switch to past tense now . . .I love-d those shoes.

Andy and I were going into Walmart one day and I saw a cardboard box full of dachshund puppies for sale. There were two little girls standing nearby with a sign that said "Dachshund puppies, $200 each." I was raised with this breed and couldn't help holding them, putting them up to my face and generally having instant unconditional love for any dachsie puppy I ever saw. Looking at these two pre-teenage girls, I knew that $200 was going to make a big difference in their household. But, living in a townhome, with no yard, I had decided that it wasn't ideal for a dog, though everyone in our unit was acquiring dogs big and small. There is a beautiful chocolate lab two doors down, a gray pit bull across the street and several other big dogs in the complex of townhomes with 10 square foot backyards. But I was trying to be responsible.

I was in a vulnerable state.

After losing a baby earlier in the year and just coming off my third, (or was it fourth) miscarriage, I could rationalize getting a puppy in about 1 second.

Still, we looked, snuggled, and then walked into Walmart without buying. "However," I told Andy, "if those puppies are still there when we come out of Walmart, it's a sign and we are going buy one."

I shopped faster than I have ever shopped. And sure enough, on our way out of the store at about 11 pm at night, those little girls were still there, shivering with the puppies and how could we say no? It was late and cold. We decided that we would need TWO puppies though, because they could keep each other company while we were at work. That was the responsible thing to do. Whatever. They were perfect little specimens of the breed and I knew that $200 was a steal, yet we offered $300 for the remaining pair and they took it. Everyone, including the puppies were freezing cold.

We acquired Gus and Lily that night. LilyBelle, named after Walt Disney's wife and the caboose on the train at Disneyland, is a beautiful black and brown. She is 9 pounds, with a straight back, long nose and perfect markings. Gus, a rolly-polly dapple, (named after the fat mouse in Disney's Cinderella) is the shorter, fatter, comedian of the two just wants some one to scratch his belly. 24/7.

Back to the sandals... I loved those sandals. Within a few days of having Gus and Lily around, Gus had pulled one of my precious sandals out from the closet and separated the leather straps from the sole with his microscopic little teeth. They had pee'd on the carpet so many times that I just started leaving the carpet cleaner out on the coffee table. I might as well have stayed on my knees for the first week we had them home. It took us a full year to train them to "go outside." Now, if I could only train them to reach up and let themselves out.

They were so much trouble during the first year. We contemplated giving them back when the "breeder" (the Walmart mom that sold them to us) called us and said Lily's mom had drowned and could she buy Lily back? Apparently, producing puppies was a major source of income for their family. I was horrified. Chewed up sandals or no, we would find ways to make these two responsible family members.

Little dogs are notoriously hard to train, so when Gus learned his one and only trick, we were like those parents at parent teacher conference that carry their child's progress report full of "A's" around the school like a banner. If you point your finger at him and say "bang!" he rolls over and plays dead. Being so close to the ground as dachsies are, it's not a hard trick and the end result is the belly scratching, but hey, he learned a trick. He's brilliant.

These two little dogs have filled an empty hole in me. To date I have had eight miscarriages. One night, as I was struggling to deal with the loss, again, Lily came and sat next to me. She watched me cry for some time. She didn't sleep, or want to be scratched, she put her little head on my knee as I cried. She was worried about me and she just wanted me to know that she was there. They aren't children, it's true, and they won't ever be the star of their school play or bring home a report card full of A's, but neither will they bring home a report card full of "F's" or get caught smoking pot . . . though I wonder about Gus sometimes.

Anyway, it's just us and the dogs, but it's all we have.