G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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I don’t remember exactly who the person in charge of the booth was. There were several girls and a man. The situation was so oddly traumatic that in my mind the man is played by the character actor Elias Koteas, of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” fame. I do remember, though, that what came next was a very bad afternoon. It involved my dreams coming true and the empty dread that often follows that experience. I climbed into a van with Elias Koteas, who told me that there was a pit-bull mother dead (in a box!) in a parking lot near the Gowanus Canal and three puppies that desperately needed a foster home. As he drove me out of my neighborhood, away from the bagel shops and the squash players, and into industrial Brooklyn, I suddenly recalled my mother’s countless warnings about “climbing into vans with strangers.” Somehow, this situation seemed outside the bounds of her edict. Just think of the puppies—three of them, he had said, their bodies cold, starving. In the van, one of his colleagues, a silent frizzy-haired woman, filled dog bowls with dirty water. I could hear it sloshing as we rumbled down Atlantic Avenue.
But the main reason I shouldn’t even have been thinking about dogs is that I finally have a boyfriend. After what feels like decades of making ill-advised forays into Spartan Chinatown living rooms and pretending to enjoy wine, I have met someone I love and respect, and I want to make decisions that honor and consider him. It would be a mistake to create a situation that compromised his comfort or made him less likely to squeeze me all night long.
My boyfriend is allergic to dogs.
Nevertheless, the itch returned last year, when, during an extended existentialist spin-out, the same family dog I had abandoned so many years ago dragged himself to my side and refused to leave. Suddenly, I find myself Googling dogs, looking into their dumb dog faces, reading about which foods will poison them (grapes, chocolate, some sugarless gums) and which celebrities love them (Glenn Close).
I imagine how much better everything would be with a dog. Walks to get the paper or a bagel. Long car trips, a wild head of Einstein-y fur in my lap. Sitting on the couch, reading a book, and occasionally flicking his ear with my toe. I’d be permanently rid of the whiff of self-involvement. (“She can’t be that much of a narcissist—she adopted a dog!”)
I promise everyone I won’t do it. I tell my boyfriend, “We have our whole lives for dogs.” Then, one morning, I sneak off to another rescue group in industrial Brooklyn and I take him home.
Here’s a short video on the topic.