Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dog (by Lorrie Goldin)

For this year's A-Z Challenge, I am organising my writing group's participation for the first time. So I am posting each entry here as well as on the website, Write On, Mamas! who are a writing group based in the San Francisco North Bay area. We will have 25 Mamas and one Papa writing on a different letter of the alphabet during the A-Z Blog Challenge. Comments are always so appreciated, but would be lovely if you would comment on the Write On, Mamas! blog so the author will read your comment. Thanks and look forward to reading your blogs.

Photography by Mary Allison Tierney

My husband and I are cat people, but our daughters failed to get the memo. Despite a menagerie of two felines and an assortment of rodents, the lobbying for a dog began in earnest when Emma, our eldest, was in second grade. In between constant replays of "Homeward Bound" and "Milo and Otis," Emma vowed to take care of all things puppy if only we would grant her wish. She even promised to pick up poop.

We're bad parents: We said no. So Emma brought out the heavy artillery: Begging. Whining. Pitching fits. After a solid year of this, our firm "no" turned squishy. Not only did we fail to hold the canine line, we also failed Parenting 101 by caving in the face of her atrocious behavior (unsurprisingly, this soon became our m.o. for dog-rearing as well).

Of course, I was the weak link. If it had been up to my husband, we never would have accepted even one of those "free" goldfish foisted upon families at school carnivals. But after Emma went to work on me, I went to work on Jonathan. On a long, romantic hike I outlined why we should overthrow reason and do something crazy, like get Emma a dog for her ninth birthday. "Besides," I concluded my pitch, "Maybe we could surprise ourselves and let in new love."

Jonathan, who pays attention to research saying that marriages fare best when husbands agree with their wives, knew he was doomed. But at least the birthday girl was thrilled with the promise of a puppy as soon as we got back from our summer vacation.

Upon our return, we headed straight to the Humane Society. Emma was in heaven when she saw their brand new litter. Who knew that Rottweiler-Pit Bull puppies could be so cute? Still, it was not the mix I had in mind, even though Emma saw no need to look any further. This time, I did not cave, resolutely removing my screaming, betrayed child from the premises while simultaneously saving my marriage.

Fortunately, the next day there was an ad in the IJ for a litter in Woodacre. We knew we'd found our puppy as the mellowest little black-and-white guy yawned and waggled his tail. Thus Button entered our lives and our hearts.

Emma and her younger sister, Ally, were enthralled as Button waddled up and down the stairs after them. They were less enchanted by his needle-like puppy teeth, and spent Day Two climbing into the lower branches of a tree to avoid his nipping enthusiasm. Many days thereafter they ignored him completely.

In his intemperate youth, Button chewed through one sofa, a set of seatbelts, and two pairs of Jonathan's glasses. Neither girl picked up any poop, either.

But one promise was kept: We could, after all, let in new love.

Lorrie Goldin is a closet dog lover and mother of two grown daughters. She is a psychotherapist in private practice in San Rafael and Berkeley. Lorrie's writing has appeared in the New York Times' "Motherlode" blog, skirt!, Underwired Magazine, the Sacramento Bee, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Marin Independent Journal, and Harlots' Sauce.


  1. We aren't dog people either, and I used to feel very sorry for my daughter who for many years used to nag us for one...but both OH and I have so many allergies we couldn't do it.

    She is almost an adult now, and I imagine when she has a home of her own she'll have one.

  2. Dogs can be fun indeed, but they are work too, still will prob get one one day, not sure what the cats will say.

  3. I didn't really grow up with dogs, so I'm not a dog lover. Many are cute but they're also messy. Great companions, though :)

  4. We had dogs growing up and I remember one who ate the coffee table legs, a hole in the wall, every slipper in the house, and half of my 45 record collection.

  5. Thanks for all your comments everyone.

  6. Always room for new love :) we got our first dog a few years ago and I was amazed how much love that little pup brought into our lives !

    1. Oh and I just saw where you live! My husband's aunt and uncle live in Novato :)

  7. ah the promises of our offspring for a puppy, I've heard it all before and ended up being the carer. Not that I really minded.