She didn’t have time for another dog. She didn’t have time for anything—or so she thought. A senior pug named Buddy slowed her down and opened her eyes.
We already had a dog.
That was the answer I had for my seven-year-old daughter, Micah, when she showed me the Puggerfest flier she brought home from the groomer’s. I didn’t have time for the daylong event that raised funds for Homeward Bound Pug Rescue. Not that I didn’t love pugs like our Princess. I just had too much to do on Saturday. But Micah won the battle to attend.
We put Princess on her leash and headed over to the park. When Micah pointed to a pile of puppies, I held firm. “We already have a dog,” I said. A dog my husband, Michael, had convinced me we should get to teach Micah about responsibility.
Yeah, right, I thought, looking down at Princess’ leash in my hand. Micah’s responsibility ended after finding a suitable name. I was the one who took care of “Micah’s pet.” All in between taxiing Micah to her various activities, doing the housework and squeezing in some freelance work. “It’s a good thing you’re low-maintenance,” I said, giving Princess a pat on the head.
Princess let herself out with her door flap, trotted to her crate when we left the house, preferred her doggy bed to my lap. She was always happy to work around my schedule.
“But, Mommy, look how cute!” Micah said, tugging me toward a pen full of wriggling pugs. She climbed right in with them and proceeded to sit herself down.
“They really need homes!”
“And they will find them,” I assured her. “But not with us.”
When we got home from the park I went straight for the vacuum. Two rooms later, the homeless pugs were a distant memory. Not for Micah. She spoke of nothing else for the rest of the weekend. And she’d done her research about the number of dogs all alone in the world.
“She’s older now,” I said to Michael on Sunday night. “Maybe she could handle some responsibility.”
“Another dog? Really?” Michael looked at me like I had two heads.
“No,” I said. “A foster. You take care of a pug who’s temporarily between homes. But it’s not forever.”
“It won’t happen right away,” I warned Micah as I filled out the online application. “We’ll probably start in the summer, when you can really give a dog your attention.” I clicked Send, and felt good about making a difference at some point in the future.
The very next day I got a call from a woman at Homeward Bound. I supposed she wanted to verify some things on our application. But no, she had a dog for us. Right now.
“Buddy’s an older pug, already approved for adoption,” she said. “He leaves for Wisconsin in two weeks, and we’re desperate for someone to keep him until then.”
Two weeks? I thought, glancing over at the sink full of dishes. Lord, please don’t let me regret this.
After school, Micah and I went to the vet clinic to pick Buddy up. He was quite old, and had only one eye. The other was cloudy with cataracts. Buddy settled himself in the backseat like an elderly gentleman. “We’re going to have so much fun!” Micah said. Fun? Who had time for fun?
At home we introduced Buddy to Princess through the back gate. Buddy trotted around, Micah close by. Princess followed. What Buddy sniffed, she sniffed, as if she was rediscovering her own backyard. I sat in the lawn chair. When was the last time I’d done that?
“Everybody inside.” I was getting a late start on dinner, and it was a school night. Michael came home and Buddy introduced himself. “What a thoughtful guest,” Michael said.
The pugs had their dinner and we had ours. Micah finished her homework, and surprisingly we all got to bed on time. Maybe this was going to work out fine.
I waved Micah and Michael off the next morning. Buddy sat by the sink while I did the breakfast dishes, bumped my leg by the oven. He came into the bathroom when I ran a bath. I made the bed; he jumped up on it. I sat down at my desk, and he jumped in my lap. “I’m busy, Buddy!” I said, but he just looked up at me with his good eye.
I’ll let him sit here a minute, I thought. Soon he was curled up, snoring. I let my computer go dark, sat back in my chair and looked helplessly out the window at our rural landscape. When had the redbuds bloomed? I wondered. I hadn’t noticed till now.
A squirrel scampered along with an acorn. Faraway a cow lowed. A couple of does made their way toward the deer feeder. Buddy stirred on my lap. “What else have I been missing?” I asked him.
After dinner, instead of getting started right away on the dishes, I suggested we all play in the yard. Micah grabbed a tennis ball for Princess and Buddy.
Michael and I watched from the lawn chairs. A one-eyed angel had finally put me in my place, and I was going to enjoy it.
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