Like most people nowadays, Ginny and I met online. Like most girls online, Ginny’s profile wasn’t exactly a comprehensive survey of her personality. She was described as a Yorkie mix who was “young,” “female,” and “small,” and her headline was “7 lbs, gentle.”
She also wasn’t Ginny. Yet. Whoever had left her and her fleas at the shelter at about a year and a half old had named her “Novalee Nation H Wilson” first.
I puzzled over this for a long time, until someone drew my attention to a 2000 film starring Natalie Portman as an Oklahoma teenager named Novalee Nation who gives birth in a Wal-Mart.
After being approved as an adoptive parent through Wags Rescue and talking to her foster mother on the phone, I had driven an hour into the suburbs to meet Novalee Nation H Wilson at a pet store adoption event.
Because look at this adoption page.
Look at that bereft little brown wizard-beard face. LOOK AT IT. The drooping collar and the ratty big-dog leash. LOOK AT IT ALL. I could not get a new name tag engraved fast enough.
I’ve had her for a month now.
The rescue group took pains to remind me not to return my new dog if it didn’t settle in immediately. If I recall correctly, the extensive paperwork I read and signed warned that it could take a dog weeks or even months to become adjusted to its new home.
I would be loving and patient. I would minister to Ginny when she whimpered her nameless trauma into the night. I would tenderly mix spoons of expensive canned venison dog food into her bowl to tempt her stressed-out tummy.
Ginny slept like a log – a very warm log curled up on my stomach — and crunchily wolfed her dry kibble.
No. The adjustment was all mine. A life completely circumscribed by the increments of time a very small dog will go without peeing. Facing the fact that I can put on a bra or brush my hair before I take her out in the morning, but not both. Never both. Hurrying home so I can let her out of her crate, when she pirouettes like a tiny, scruffy black pony, ears flapping, snuffling and whimpering with joy.
I guess all those smears from the rawhide chews on my blue duvet are ok.
I will take a dump up to five times a day. If it takes you an average of fifteen seconds to scoop up said dump by hand and tie it in a politely scented plastic baggie, it means you will spend about nine minutes a week handling my poop. That’s almost eight hours a year. If I live for another fourteen years, as I very well could at my size, you will have spent the equivalent of almost three work weeks picking up my shit over the span of my entire life. That is a lot of time away from Facebook.
p.s. at night you can use the flashlight function of your iPhone to locate my diminutive poo in the long, dewy grass. You’re welcome.
p.p.s. if I, without warning, poop again after you have already tied up one poop in my politely scented poop bag, you can carefully undo the knot (without dropping my leash while I, fully unburdened, lunge at squirrels) and use a pair of tiny felled tree branches like chopsticks to pick up the steamy little logs and drop them into the bag.
I can enjoy a dog for a roommate, but outside the house, on a leash, I am extremely dog aggressive. I cannot tell you why I seem to loathe other dogs. This is a detail shrouded in my past life. You can spend a lot of time treating me to perfectly timed licks of ricotta cheese from a custom food tube so I associate the approach of strange dogs with delicious snacks instead of the need for bursts of terror disguised as toothy, slavering, ear-splitting rage. You can hope that trainer you hired is right about this because the whole cheese tube thing looks really weird but maybe it’s working sometimes.
In no particular order, these are things that are tastier and more interesting than any toy you could possibly buy me:
The cuff of your favorite sweater
My own harness
Your decorative pillows
Any sock that has just been washed and laid out for sorting
Dirty Kleenex used for absolutely any purpose, from any receptacle in the house
Also, I want to chew the buttons off your nice duvet cover worse than a pair of horny teenagers want to close the door. I want it worse than you want the bacon-wrapped scallops on a date with a really nice vegan.
My favorite time to vomit is between 5:45 and 6:30am.
These are things you can do instead of writing
Contemplate my eyebrows
Pay attention to me generally
This is what will happen if you do not fold and put away your laundry immediately.
I hope you enjoyed your life before you adopted a dog.