Illustration by Jose Santana Firpo

Long Story Short: Bringing the House Down

This story was originally published in the January 2022 issue of inRegister.

Scraps of stuffing from a child’s carnival prize won years ago at a school fair litter the living room floor, trail into the dining room and dissolve in the kitchen where the last identifiable fin of Turtle T. Turtle’s body is left intact, Poly-fil oozing from its opening. It’s a crime scene. And a cleaning disaster. And days later, I’m still finding puffs of stuffing tucked underneath sofas and chairs.

We have a new puppy in the house.

It started simply enough, with a restless desire to hold a sweet, still lapdog while sipping my morning tea and contemplating my day. We already have a steady, solid 8-year-old Lab who is content to sit at my feet. Jack the Lab is practically perfect in every way. Why tempt fate?

But my desire for a lapdog marched on, relentless, and I found myself calling breeders with too-high price tags and too-low inventory given the holiday season. I scrolled websites filled with precious puppy faces, cocked just so, looking straight into the camera with longing eyes. I held other friends’ dogs.

Then I innocently went to Mid City’s White Light Night for dinner at Bistro Byronz on Government, followed by a walkaround with friends to peruse the many shops open for the evening. A lapdog was not on my mind.

But right after the appetizers were picked up and the entrées were delivered, a woman walked by our outdoor table with a bit of fluff under her jacket. “Would you like to pet the puppy?” She pulled back her coat to reveal a 6-week-old dog nestled right under her collarbone, puppy eyes closed, sleeping soundly.

Yes, please.

As dinner went on, more and more puppies came by, brought by a variety of people working the tent around the corner for K9 Rouge Rescue. Our meal concluded and our group burst wide open: some stayed behind to have one more drink; some got up to walk through the art gallery nearby; I headed straight for the rescue tent.

I found Rosie right away, her brown and white mottled markings standing out in a pile of puppies sleeping atop one another. She was from a litter of 10, found with their mother in a Livingston barn. She fit perfectly nestled up to my collarbone. We polled the kids via phone, and they all voted that Rosie should be part of our family.

“It’s not like you aren’t an adoptive family already,” pointed out my friend that night, while Rosie slept soundly under my jacket. She was alluding to the three of our four children who were adopted. But I had never adopted a dog before, and I had to let go of my dream of a small dog—Rosie might be more mid-size than that. And what would Jack think?

“Welcome to your forever family,” said the woman, as I signed my final form that night to make Rosie part of our own. They snapped photos of us, and we brought her home to the kids.

As I write this, Rosie has torn up this morning’s newspaper, scraps all over the living room, only her hind legs and tail visible from under the couch as she hides. Yesterday, my daughter’s computer cord sparked and snapped during the middle of her English exam thanks to Rosie gnawing the silicone down to the wire. Plus, she’s still in the housebreaking stage—enough said about that.

But Jack absolutely adores her and has found a new best friend to wrestle during playtime and snuggle up with during naps. Rosie makes us laugh with her antics, and her smartness and her puppyness.

And she’s a snuggler.

Not so much in the morning, when she’s Mach 2 with her hair on fire. But as the day winds down, and dinner is cleaned up, and I have a glass of wine in my hand, Rosie nestles into my lap and falls asleep.

Forget the stuffing, and the chewed shoes and the stain on the rug, my lapdog is finally home.