Setting: San Diego
I arrived to find my friend B trolling the internet for a puppy for her parents. They lost their dog a year ago and B and her bro decided to surprise them with a new one for Thanksgiving.
Did you know there are puppies on Ebay? Well there are.
Within an hour we were headed South to check out a litter of Goldens. We took the last exit before Mexico and pulled up outside Hector’s house. It was puppies and puddles everywhere. The best situation it was not, but we were there and the puppies were cute. We saw the mom and allegedly the dad. Everyone looked fine. We watched the five littlest ladies in the hopes one would stand out and say to B, “pick me, choose me, love me.”
The only time I remember being present when my parents bought a puppy was the cocker spaniel they picked up at a flea market in Canton, Texas. I don’t remember having anything to do with her selection. So this part was fun. Until the very first one B liked walked over and plopped down in a puddle of pee. Then it was funny.
As it turned out, the pee plop made her easy to identify as she continuously did other things to endear B. Because in a litter of 5 female Golden puppies, they all start looking the same.
So we wrapped her up in a duvet cover and headed home with her in my lap. This was exciting. I’ve lately been thinking how great it would be to have a puppy, and with four days til Thanksgiving, this was going to be the perfect puppy trial period. I was going to experience the piddles and sleepless nights and whimpering.
The San Diego visit I had in mind? Not quite. But I’m adaptable and I would still be spending QT with pals so it became the new plan.
The dog was great in the car. Snored even! Then we got her home and gave her several shampoos because she was super dirty and she kept her mellow temperament. We were like, this is the best dog ever! Then she whimpered and we took her outside and she pooped in the grass. That’s when I decided Golden Retrievers were the best puppies ever created. We went to the store and bought her immediate essentials and headed to a local wine bar for happy hour. Dog in hands.
Everyone fussed over her. She sat on a blanket in one of the chairs as calm as could be. That night she slept through – without a whimper – til 6h15a. The next morning we hung out with a friend with two small children. Puppy was great with kids. It was like she was a mirage of a dog. By this point we were like, this isn’t possible, right? Something must be wrong. And so we took her to the vet.
Side note: this friend’s daughters (2 1/2 and 4 1/2) sang us their rendition of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds and I’m pretty sure it’s my favoritest version of that song. A 2 1/2 year old singing “Don’t worry about a thing…because every little thing’s gonna be alright.” Are you kidding me?!
So back to the puppy. We arrived at the Cedars Sinai of vet clinics looking very much like a lesbian couple of new parents. Neither of us are – not that there’s anything wrong with that – and we were treated very well. FYI, I wasn’t wearing a plaid shirt. I was, however, wearing a white tee, grey skinny jeans, black boots and a black pleather jacket. Think a slimmer version of Jo Polniaczek. I can see how people would have been confused.
So this awesome vet examines Puppy. (Apparently at a vet’s office they call you by your pet’s name. Since B’s parents were going to name her, she was called simply Puppy. She may have started answering to it by day 3.) Everything’s going fine until the vet finds some weird anomaly in her abdomen. She goes and gets three other doctors’ opinions. Then comes back.
They’re not sure what it is, B’s upset…can’t give her parents a sick dog, but now there’s this sick dog and what happens next? Everything the doctor mentioned added up to several dollar signs and it was all very “No good deed goes unpunished.”
We called the breeder, the vet talked to the breeder, the vet suggested we give her back to the breeder. The vet called us “kids.” I liked this vet. So we agreed to meet the breeder the next day back at the vet to discuss options that would be in the best interest of the puppy.
The puppy becomes more puppy-like and playful over the next 24 hours (her mellow-ness had not concerned the vet as she was most likely adjusting to her new life). This second night she whimpered during the night and we had to better barricade the part of the apartment she stayed in when we went out because she had learned how to free herself.
B contacted several organizations in the hopes they would help fund the necessary exploratory surgery, but no dice since it was exploratory. So as we sat in the vet’s office the next day and she laid out each multi-hundred dollar procedure that would lead to the next multi-hundred dollar procedure, B came to the difficult decision that she had to give the puppy back to the breeder. (Who came to the vet and seemed genuinely concerned re the condition of the puppy.) B couldn’t give the puppy to her parents in this condition, and couldn’t keep her in an apartment (she’s going to be a big dog!). In addition to that, the costs to get this puppy to her third month were many. And she wasn’t going back to a puppy mill situation. She was going back to her mom.
I imagine her return to her sisters and her excitedly telling them about all the things she did and people she saw and kids she played with and places she went. Kind of like Baby’s Day Out.
I was relaying the story to my mom, and she brought up that I did get a taste of what it was like to have a puppy. The possibility of something going wrong. And that something being unexpectedly super expensive. And/or gut-wrenching.
Last night, B and I got home and I instinctively put my boots out of reach of a puppy that wasn’t there. I said something aloud to B (who was in another room) and she said she had just done the same thing. And we didn’t have to close off any part of the apartment when we went to sleep. And it was quiet. I still can’t believe how attached we got to that dog in a little more than 48 hours.
Maybe it’s a good thing my landlord doesn’t allow pets.