We started out with fish because fish are easy. But fish also die easy, and I couldn’t snuggle with them.
Got me a hamster but the little bastard bit me and we had to part ways.
Cats were a no-no, as per my dad’s allergy.
I wore my parents down with the normal kid pleas:
“I’ll feed the dog!”
“I’ll walk the dog!”
“I’ll take care of the dog!”
They wouldn’t crack! I begged. I cried. They were all, “Dad can’t breathe from pet dander.” Way to take it up a notch, parents. My little brother was of no help in my quest, caring about nothing but baseball. I was an island. An island longing for the companion of a furry friend.
Finally, I thought to use my secret weapon: writing.
You guys, I wrote a damn research paper about why our family should get a dog. I pulled information from a big ol’ blue book, All About Dogs, to support my assertions. I used direct quotations. I CITED PAGE NUMBERS.
It really is a wonder I had friends…
But it worked! WE WERE GETTING A PUPPY!!!! Probably because my parents felt bad for me and thought it was my only hope of ever being cool.
In the winter of ’93, western PA was getting slammed with snow, so of course that’s when my family decided to pile in my dad’s paneled work van and drive what felt like 200 miles north to a breeder. I am not exaggerating when I tell you this was one of the BEST DAYS OF MY LIFE. We walked into this woman’s house and there were dogs–puppies!–everywhere! I remember heat lamps and so much noise. One of the dogs was super friendly (and a little creepy if you’re a kid) and felt it necessary to lead the way, so he took part of my puffy winter coat in his mouth and took me on a tour of the house. He led me from room to room, dog pen to dog pen, as if to say, “Soak it in, humans! This is what we do!”
Some puppies were curled up quietly on blankets, others were yapping like crazy trying to get our attention, tiny ones were nursing from their mamas. It was a little slice of heaven. “Our” dog was waiting in a play pen thingy, low enough that I could step over it and sit down with the two furry friends inside. They climbed me, licked me, their little puppy teeth nipping the whole time. I LOVED IT.
We had insulated a box with blankets and gently placed our girl inside. We were ready to go home.
Because my mom is really good at getting what she wants, she insisted we name our dog after her favorite country music star at the time, Reba McIntyre.
The rest of us were like, “nope,” and we met in the middle and named our dog Rebecca. Who names a dog Rebecca?
We took Reba/Rebecca/came-to-be Bubba home with us that day, and she was a part of our family until my parents had to make The Decision when my brother was in college and I had already moved out.
Earlier this week, my husband and I had to make The Decision yet again, for the second time in three months, and said goodbye to our rescue pup, Hurricane.
Truth be told, that dog was nothing but a headache from the second we brought her home. Well, *I* brought her home. I felt it was my civic duty to rescue a dog from the Hurricane Katrina bunch that had come to a town near us from the Mississippi area. A family took in crates and crates of dogs and cats, hoping to re-home them. My brother and his friend accompanied me on the trip, probably because they looked forward to my then-fiance’s head exploding when I brought a second dog into his home.
And explode it did.
I let our new rescue in the back door and she promptly ate the food leftover from our other dog’s breakfast, did two laps around the first floor, and threw up all over the carpet. She then began gnawing on the original woodwork in my fiance’s beautiful Victorian home. Our other dog was decidedly unimpressed with this LUNATIC I had invited into her home, and my soon-to-be-husband didn’t speak to me for hours. Finally, he relented and said we could keep the dog under two conditions: it would be temporary and he would name her.
Hence the name, Hurricane.
I was strong-armed from naming two of my dogs and I’m bitter about it to this day.
Anyway, Hurricane continued to ruin our home and our good moods, impossible to walk on a leash, freakishly strong, and blatantly disobeyed our every word. Her tail was a whip, as destructive as the storm from which she came. One winter, I was driving with her and Bella in the back seat and that moron Hurricane jumped out of the window and did sprints up and down the main road of our small town. Cars stopped, neighbors tried to help contain her, Bella watched smugly from her warm spot in the car.
Another time, Hurricane–the dog we were told was spayed–show us she was, in fact, NOT spayed, and she proved it all over the kitchen floor. I cannot…
This dog did not make our lives easy. Her only redeeming quality was that she loved snuggling, and when her temporary living arrangements were supposed to have ended, my husband was so attached to her snuggles, she came to live with us permanently. She also did this thing where she would paw us, almost like trying to hold hands. She always wanted to be close and it was endearing. Oh, she smiled, too. At first it was scary–was she going to attack? Nope. She’s just that excited. She’d squeeze her big dumb eyes closed and show her teeth. It was all kinds of adorable and infuriating because she mostly did it after having destroyed something.
We moved to a bigger house, started a family, and it appeared as though Hurricane was oblivious of it all. She was just happy to be here, wagging her tail, knocking over everything in her path. As a dog owner, you can’t ask for more than your pet to be good with your kids, and we were blessed to have two dogs that were damn good with our family. They were also experts at eating the food our kids dropped on the floor, which meant less vacuuming for me.
Hurricane started slowing down, as an aging dog does. To help her weak legs, we began letting her out the front to do her business, avoiding the steep deck steps in the back. Even with two steps, she struggled. Always a voracious eater (like, to the point we thought she was going to choke), when she stopped showing interest in food, it was another red flag. I boiled chicken and made rice for a few weeks, then we switched to soft foods. Each worked, but only for a short amount of time. She was diagnosed with something or another, but we declined further testing and opted to focus on quality of life instead of more poking and prodding. The vet was concerned she wouldn’t survive any invasive procedure or test anyway.
At the end, she was on two different medications, refusing all food (even her favorite, bananas), and could barely stand up. It was time.
In true Hurricane fashion, the sedative didn’t work as quickly as we all thought it would. HusbandWTF and I giggled, thinking she would need an elephant tranquilizer. So Hurricane.
When it came time for the injection, the vet said her veins wouldn’t cooperate. So Hurricane.
Even after the injection, she hung on because she’ll do it her way dammit. So Hurricane.
Today, our house is quieter, a bit sad, and definitely smells better. I keep looking for her, careful not to swing open the front door for fear of hitting her where she lay. But the floor is bare. There are no accidents to clean up in the playroom, which is where she always left a surprise for the kids. I swear I hear her still, but know that will pass. And it’ll be sad when it does.
There’s a bunch of stuff we want to donate to Orphans of the Storm, but I don’t trust myself to make the trip just yet. I’m fully capable of dropping off blankets and bowls and leashes, and bringing home a few furry friends. Husband wants to wait one year/six months/at least a few months before considering another dog, and because his timeline gets shorter and shorter, I’m hopeful we won’t be dog-less for long. And I’ll let this next decision be on his terms because I’M NAMING OUR NEXT DOG.