“We’re getting a puppy.”
My boyfriend and I had just moved in together, and I had demands. Thank goodness he’s a dog lover and pretty easygoing, because within hours we were searching Petfinder.com for our new best friend. And then Milo popped up on the screen, and we were never the same again.
Milo came from a small rescue in Kentucky, and we adopted him sight unseen. He came up with a transport that picks up dogs from shelters in the South and relocates them where they have a better chance of finding homes. We met the transport at 5 a.m. in the parking lot of a Sheraton in Parsippany, NJ, and joined about 30 other people who were also picking up pups, whether to bring them to their new home or to bring them to rescues so they could find their forever family. It was dark and warm outside, and when the transport guy appeared from the trailer cradling the tiniest bundle of fur I had ever seen, my heart burst open into a million pieces.
Before Colin and I started dating, I had been married to someone who came with a dog. When we got divorced, I also had to get divorced from the dog, which was honestly in many ways harder than the actual dissolution of the marriage itself. My heart ached for my own furry companion, one that nobody could ever take away from me. So when Milo came along, I felt whole again in a way.
He was two pounds with the sweetest face you’d ever seen. He was curious, playful and instantly more intelligent than us. They said he was a Chihuahua/Dachshund mix, also known as a “chiweenie,” but I swore I would never ever mortify him by calling him such a ridiculous name. And as he grew, it was clear that had absolutely no Dachshund in him whatsoever. He has the personality of a Basenji, which is somewhat aloof, incredibly smart and loyal as heck. He was ours, and as frustrating and exhausting as it is to train a puppy, we never regretted it. Even on the day I dramatically threw myself on my bed and cried, “I just don’t know what to do with you!” as he stared at me, head tilted and confused. Then he licked my face and I melted.
Adopting Milo inspired me to start volunteering with a local NYC rescue, which also led to fostering puppies. So. Many. Puppies. Like, all the puppies. About 6 months in, Colin said to me, “Yes, we can foster another dog, but will you please bring home something that isn’t a puppy?” Little did he know that this was the best mistake he’s ever made, because then I came home with Petey.
Petey was like a little jumping bean at the adoption event I was working. He just wanted to get out of the pen he was in, and could spring up so high that someone constantly had to be on duty to make sure he didn’t actually get out. He also was the same size and shape as Milo so I thought, “Oh! what a cute matching pair they’ll be!” His black-and-white face was his distinguishing feature, but his innate need to snuggle was what made us fall in love with him. When someone applied to adopt Petey, Colin and I cried. We knew we had just found our second dog.
Petey and Milo are like night and day. Petey needs to sit in whatever lap is available. Milo watches from his bed across the room. Milo is so smart that he knows how to manipulate us to get what he wants. Petey is what we lovingly call “pretty but dumb.” Petey is a hunting dog and has been known to catch birds out of the air, much to my general disgust. Milo is happiest when stationed at our sides, observing the landscape and protecting us from whatever dangers he thinks might befall us. As different as they are, they love each other. It took them a long time and a lot of work. But even if they’re not brothers by birth, they’re brothers by love.
They give me joy. They give me security. They taught me forgiveness and patience. They showed me what unconditional love looks like. Nothing else on Earth could do what these two pups have done for me.
My favorite way to start the day is waking up in bed with Colin, Petey and Milo. I call them “all my guys,” and we snuggle the pups and rub their bellies until it’s time to take them out. They’re my sanity, my calm, and my heart. All my guys.