Well the spoiler is right there in the title, so let’s cut to the chase! A couple of days before Christmas, Mekko and I adopted a puppy! PUPPY!!!! What a joyful, adorable, and sleep-depriving way to ring in the new year!
As many of you likely know, about 14 months ago my little old dog Linus passed away. I took it hard but my other dog, Mekko, didn’t really seem to. They were a funny kind of a pair—Mekko was essentially adopted on a whim one January day in Brooklyn, and Linus arrived by happenstance a few months later when he was found as a stray. The idea that they—a rambunctious young 50-pound pit bull and a geriatric 12-pound white toy breed—might form some kind of special bond was irresistibly adorable, but it never totally came to pass. Mekko was always really gentle with Linus, and I think his sleepy laid-back nature had some calming effect on her, but that was about the extent of it. Instead they settled into a comfortable, arms-reach arrangement that worked for everyone. And while I never regretted keeping Linus for a second, I was always aware that he wasn’t exactly what Mekko might have chosen for a sibling if she had a say in the matter. At various times I even considered getting a third dog better suited to Mekko’s brand of fun, but the idea fizzled among work stress and financial constraints and wanting to avoid appearing like a crazy person intent on dying alone surrounded by a dozen rescue dogs who might then decide to eat my corpse. Do dogs do that? Asking for a friend.
Throughout the last year, I’ve considered bringing the human to dog ratio in this house back up to 1:2. Approaching 9 years old (HOW?!), Mekko is still a bundle of playful energy, but I’m not so delusional that I think that will last forever. She’s technically considered a senior. In the spring and summer of 2018, she successfully underwent treatment for a mast cell tumor, plunging me into the exciting and extraordinarily expensive world of canine oncology. Part of me felt certain that another perfectly-imperfect dog would just drop, fully-formed, into my lap, but when that failed to actuate as the months ticked by I realized I might have to actually do something this time to make it happen. Nothing like a cancer diagnosis for one dog a few months after the death of your other dog to make time feel very limited and precious! I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t get around to this in time for Mekko to still enjoy it.
So first, the goal was summer. Summer was really busy. Then the goal was fall—my birthday is in late September, so that seemed like a fun idea. But that was a really busy time, too, and I slowly started to recognize that what I was waiting for—a prolonged period when the timing felt right, the finances were comfy and work was slow (do these things ever go hand in hand?), and the house was well-prepared—was just not going to happen. There’s never a good time to upend your life, even if the change is relatively minor. The conditions are never just so.
So thinking back on how Mekko and Linus entered my life, it struck me that a little impulsivity when it comes to decisions like this is kind of my modus operandi, and dog-related ones have historically not ended in any form of regret. Thinking about it too much was causing me to psych myself out. I already know how to have a dog. I already know how to have two dogs. This is ridiculous. Enough’s enough.
So I submitted an adoption application to a small local rescue organization. The approval came almost immediately, and to be honest I wasn’t sure I was going to do anything with it. On the night of December 22nd, I planned to spend December 23rd chipping away at house projects. Then I woke up on December 23rd, took Mekko outside, and called the rescue. By noon, I was walking into a room containing 11 wiggly little tiny puppies, a litter freshly transported from a high-kill shelter down in Tennessee (this is super normal on the east coast—the south has an immense spay/neuter/overpopulation problem). They all came running toward me, which I feel bears repeating. ELEVEN. TINY. BABY. PUPPIES. RUNNING. AT. ME. I could have burst into tears, but I still wanted the lady to let me adopt one of them so I controlled myself.
I didn’t tell anyone I was going. I spent about an hour picking up puppies, putting down puppies, snuggling puppies, and watching this huge, varied litter interact, trying to read the tea leaves on their itty bitty personalities to predict which one I thought would get along best with Mekko.
Do you know how hard it is to choose one puppy out of ELEVEN?! Guys. So hard.
A couple stood out, but one of them—black and white with some brindle peeking through, and the most adorable speckled little nose—kept coming back. He was gentle and relatively calm. He sat in my lap on his back while I stroked his little bloated puppy belly. He came when I called him over, and sat down at my feet. I noticed he seemed to be particularly attentive to the woman who runs the rescue, even though he’d only been under her care for a couple of days. He was playful with his litter mates but not totally insane, preferring to participate when engaged but not really instigating. I just had a feeling.
And by 3 in the afternoon, I was introducing Mekko to her new little brother. And my heart grew three sizes that day. The thing you can’t see in this photo is how fast Mekko’s tail was wagging as she sniffed this little guy all over for the first time. She was SO excited. He wasn’t quite sure yet, ha!
Then we went to the pet store and got some supplies, because that kind of advanced planning is, evidently, how we roll. And ya know what? Everything. Turned. Out. Fine. You figure it out. You rise to the occasion. It’s a big deal but a manageable one.
I realized sometime during the car ride home that I actually have no idea what kind of dog he is. I keep asking him but he hasn’t learned to talk yet. The rescue listed the puppies as Lab/Hound mixes, which…sure. I think there’s definitely pit bull in there—which is really what I was looking for and assumed these guys were!—but the rest…who knows! I know there are DNA tests for this nowadays, but I kind of think the not-knowing is fun. Will he be 30 pounds or 80? Only time will tell!
He is settling RIGHT in. Like a lot of puppies with his background, he arrived with an active case of fleas and various intestinal parasites, so we’ve been working on resolving that. Turns out part of that adorable bloated puppy belly was because it was full of worms! How precious! How completely grotesque! Animals, am I right?
And then there’s THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE. He keeps trying to initiate cuddle time with Mekko, whose resolve appears to be waning by the day. Over the past few days they’ve REALLY started playing, and it’s just the cutest most special thing ever. Mekko could obviously devour him in one bite and he’s no match for her in a game of tug (hell, a lot of times I’m no match for her), but she’s so gentle with him and likes to let him selectively win so he comes back for more. She’s teaching him! My heart can’t take it! He’s also been taking good notes on Mekko’s advanced cuddle and napping techniques and really excelling in those areas.
I sort of hate to admit it, but I still haven’t named him! I know, I know. Don’t shame me!! Since he’s been under the weather while the worms, uh, evacuate, I just want to make sure his name fits his personality which is coming out more and more everyday. Also, I think part of the problem settling on a name may stem from having gotten too many opinions while we saw all these people over the holidays. Ha! So like, I got this. It’s not for lack of options. I’m not sure I can handle more options.
So. There’s a new 11 week-old, 11 pound wild animal living in my house, with tiny razor sharp teeth and a very small bladder, and it’s kind of the best. It’s true that puppies are a lot of work with a lot of needs, but I gotta say—while I’d absolutely do the adult dog adoption and the senior dog adoptions again—it feels like a real privilege to get to raise this guy from 10 weeks. I haven’t had a puppy since middle school! The house is absolutely littered with toys, I’m churning out boiled chicken and rice like it’s my job, and have never spent so much time monitoring the frequency and viscosity of poop in my life. And, as I type this, I have a couple of dogs—my dogs—sleeping soundly on both sides of me, occasionally letting out a little snore or dream-twitch to remind me it’s real.
Maybe the timing for that was just right, after all.
If you’re interested in adopting one of the puppy’s litter mates, I think they’re all still available! Go fill out an application at Hollywood Dog Rescue, located in Pine Bush, NY! Liz was a pleasure to work with.