My husband used to be afraid to leave town. He travelled a lot on business, and he never knew what he might come home to. That is because when I get stressed, as is often the case, and if chocolate and a good glass of red wine fail to comfort me, I tend to look for something warm and fuzzy. Most of the time, a new dog is just the thing. Sometimes a horse, sometimes a cat, occasionally a guinea pig or two, and I daresay there were some fish—but mostly it was a new dog. At some point, the husband put his foot down. He decreed, “No animal shall set foot in this home unless another animal leaves!” He knew that there was only ONE way an animal ever leaves my care—and that is if they die. Have I mentioned that there are two horses in my backyard who are going to be twenty eight and twenty five respectively this May? May they live forever—good old Norman and Dash! Still, I am a good girl. I try to play by the rules. But it was time.
I have written my obituaries for my dogs on this blog. If you are new here, read “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” and “A Dog Story.” I am sentimental. My dogs, when they go, are irreplaceable. But that does not mean one should not try. When we put Jack down in December, I could not actually believe how much I missed my eleven pound Brussels Griffon—the one who made me a caricature of myself—a slightly pudgy middle aged woman with a toy dog who was never adequately housebroken and who yapped constantly to the point where I think he knew his name was “Shut the F-ck Up Jack!”. I know, it’s horrible, but it was true. When he went blind and deaf he finally stopped barking, and everyone who came to my house was saddened by the silence.
So I admit that I was vulnerable, when a veterinarian friend up in the Oakland area posted a photo on Facebook, of a little white dog with dark stains under his big brown eyes and oversized ears. He had been found running in the middle of Fremont Avenue, starving, flea infested and loaded with tapeworm. Someone had likely tossed him out of a car, and a client of my friend had halted traffic to pick him up. He weighed five and a half pounds, and you could feel every rib. My friend and her vet techs named him Yoda, and the name stuck. I was in the Galapagos on vacation when I happened to sign onto Facebook and see his little face, with a sign hanging around his neck saying, “My name is Yoda. I need a new home.”
Yoda lives here now. He is a tiny mixed breed being, likely a terrier-Chihuahua mix. He is loving and kind and does not bark, except when we go out at night and he senses the coyotes lingering just beyond the fence line. We are working on the housebreaking, and he’s smart enough to get it. He’s put on a bit of weight, to the point where I’ll have to watch it. Like any creature starved for food and affection, he can’t get enough of either. The deerhounds are tolerant—I think they missed their little dog too. The cat is not amused. Despite the stress of my job, and my concern over my father who will shortly be undergoing aortic valve replacement, this little dog makes me smile. If you too are worried and stressed, here’s a bit of advice for you: Get a dog.