A few weeks ago, we added a new family member to our already large clan. She is loud, she whines, she hardly sleeps through the night and she is nowhere near potty trained. Her name is Rosie, and she is a chocolate Labrador puppy.
When I came home in the wee hours one Sunday morning after a night out with friends, the last thing I expected to find was a puppy.
I was surprised enough to see my 14-year-old sister still up at such a late hour, and was about to chide her for it when she put one finger to her lips, giving a clear “shoosh!” signal. I was about to protest when I noticed a brown furry thing cuddled in her lap, sleeping. If I hadn’t been the designated driver that night, I would have thought I’d had one too many drinks at the bar.
My brain knew what it was, but it was not squaring with previously established facts — namely, that my parents would never bring home a puppy, especially one that was completely unsolicited by their children.
“How…Where…A puppy?” Apparently, my dad bought it at a fund-raising auction earlier that evening as a gift to my mom for their anniversary, which was also that day.
This was truly shocking news. First of all, my dad doesn’t even like dogs that much. That’s not true. He likes dogs that are not his own. To him, dog is just another word for home destroyer. The only reason he has previously allowed us to have them as pets is because they can double as lawn ornaments, his main criterion being that the dog “looks good in the yard.”
Secondly, I know my dad’s personality. My dad is a banker. He is calculated, he is cautious, he is conservative with money — just the way you’d want your community banker to be. I’m not sure the word “spontaneous” is in his vocabulary, especially when it comes to purchases. The man can hardly buy a scoop of ice cream without serious forethought, let alone a puppy.
I looked at Meg, my brow furrowed, still unbelieving.
What had they been thinking? We couldn’t get a puppy right now. We were completely unprepared! And who was going to take care of this thing? Sure they are cute in the beginning, but they’re also a lot of work. It was like having an unplanned pregnancy — except at least you get nine whole months to process and prepare for that. This happened as fast as an auctioneer can say, “going, going, SOLD!”
I expressed my concern to my sister.
“Emily, I know,” Meg said, “but I just figure, it’s already done. We have this puppy, so we have to make the best of it.”
It was at this point I realized that this was the absolute worst reaction to getting a puppy that ever existed in the history of kid-dom. Parents buying a puppy in a spur-of-the-moment decision, kids questioning their judgment on that decision — what dimension was this? I almost expected to hear an eerie tune and see Rod Sterling emerge from behind the drapes.
The next morning I had to remind myself it wasn’t all a dream, but that was easy enough, since I awoke to Rosie barking her head off.
“What do you think?” my parents asked, all wide-eyed. I really wanted to ask them how many cocktails they’d each had prior to bidding, but they have always graciously refrained from asking me how many drinks I had before I made some of my all-time dumbest decisions. I figured I should afford them the same courtesy.
I expressed my utter surprise. Then the puppy bounded toward me, jumping up to my knees and attempting to lick every inch of me. I picked her up, her little legs dangling, and looked into those big, brown, adorable eyes. It was starting to make sense.
“Welcome home, Rosie!” I said. I really had to hand it to my dad. It was a very romantic, debonair, bold move. Go big or go home, I guess. He had wanted to give an anniversary gift for the books, and this is one we’ll never forget. We can’t — there’s too much barking.