When my youngest, Essa, first spoke, her words weren’t the usual “mama,” or “dada,” or anything normal like that.
What actually came out, accompanied by a laser-like glare aimed directly at me, was;
“Can I please have a golden retriever puppy, preferably female and of medium build, with a generous spirit and twinkly eyes? She’ll protect you from those nasty coyotes on your morning runs, not eat that much or mess up the house, and be my best, best, best friend in the whole, wide world forever.”
“Sweet!” I said, looking at my husband, Scot, for confirmation. “She got my vocabulary genes!”
“We need to get a dog,” he replied, for the 1,000th time.
“Yeah, but not today. Maybe tomorrow,” I answered brightly. For the 1,000th time.
It seemed that everyone in the family, and now baby Essa, wanted a dog. Everyone that is, but me.
It’s not that I have anything against dogs. All in all, I think they’re fine, especially if they live across the street or next door, and preferably outside of hearing range when they bark at those nasty coyotes all night long.
Man’s best friend has always been priority numero nothing in my life. When I graduated from college and moved to Chicago, a tiny apartment coupled with a budding career spelled no dog. When Scot and I met and married, a slightly larger townhome and two bigger careers also equaled….no dog. Our son, Taylor came along, and with him? No dog. After that, Grace popped out, and then? No dog. Finally (and I do mean finally) Essa was born and we moved to Colorado, into a real house with room to grow, and everything I thought I knew about keeping a dog in your yard and not mine was turned inside out. Almost instantly.
But you don’t know how stubborn I can be.
By and by, Essa actually did get a dog, but not the kind that slobbers all over the new dining room chairs and makes my favorite fleece look like a hair-coat.
She got Goldie.
As requested, Goldie is an adorable female puppy of medium build with a generous spirit and twinkly eyes. She has an amazing temperament, calm demeanor, requires no maintenance, weighs less than a pound, and can fit in my back pocket if I squish really hard. Yes, Goldie is a stuffed animal, and as far as I’m concerned, perfect.
As expected, Essa and Goldie took to each other immediately, like long-lost magnet people on the sci-fi channel. They’re absolutely inseparable and go everywhere together including the bathroom, any trip that requires Essa to pack a bag, and the creepy basement on snow days when the kids are out of school, I want to write, and the unwelcome ankle-biters are way too into my space.
Their unbreakable bond has been an amazing thing to witness, which, as the chauffeur in the family, I get to do on a daily basis. It almost makes me want to get a real dog. But not quite.
Unfortunately for me, disaster has struck our home.
On January 4, 2012 at 4:45 p.m. Essa realized that Goldie was missing. We’re not sure what happened, and to be honest, suspect foul play. She’s just not the kind of pet to wander off by herself, and always looks both ways before she crosses the street.
As you can imagine, Essa is devastated, and none of the 4,322 other stuffed dogs she owns can replace her most favorite bestie. We’ve turned the house and cars completely upside-down trying to find her, called every friend, relative, and place we’ve been over the last week, initiated our code blue satellite-enabled pet tracker, posted signs, launched an aggressive email campaign, and left the front porch light on every night. But we’ve got nothing. Nada. Zilch.
It’s time to face the truth. Goldie is gone.
Now that Goldie’s absence is sinking in, Essa is starting to display some seriously strange behavior, so much so, that I’m actually beginning to get scared.
Follow the evidence she’s left behind, and tell me if you agree with my conclusion.
Two days ago, without asking for permission and completely unaided, Essa constructed some kind of “doggie cell block” on our front porch when she got home from school.
Casually draped over the side of the cage is a homemade afghan that her ninety-year old Nonni knitted when she was born. Because Essa’s brain stems from a large chunk of mine, I can practically read it, and in this instance, I know what she’s thinking.
She’s using the same mathematical equation that every realtor on the planet has memorized (or written on the back of his hand).
Batch of fresh cookies = yummy smells = sold house = huge $$$
Translated to Essa’s language:
Afghan = comfort = curiosity = stray dog jumps over the cell wall and into my trap
Even more disturbing than the softie blanket is the paraphernalia she placed inside the holding pen. Notice the book lying next to the-yet-to-be-put-away Christmas decoration (don’t judge me).
I know what she’s up to with this one too: random dog sniffs around our yard, spies her carefully placed item of interest, and says,
“Cool! A book about dogs! I’m a dog who loves reading about dogs and this strange compartment with towels all over the floor and an afghan hanging over the side looks really inviting. Wow. I’ve never seen anything like it before. I think I’ll jump the fence, curl up with a warm latte, read a little, and take a nap.”
Possibly the most frightening component of this whole set-up is the strategic location of Essa’s school bag, inside the doggie jail. She’s a planner by nature, and carries the following items in her satchel at all times:
– pair of black leather gloves
– crude leash fashioned out of an old piece of rope found in the garage
– $32.31 in loose change
– book about dogs, specifically, how to take care of them
After studying all of the evidence, I can come to only one conclusion. Essa is planning to kidnap your dog. And then she’s going to run away. With your dog.
I’m now forced to look in the mirror and face the reality that has plagued me for years. We’ve got to get a real dog before something tragic occurs. Things with Essa are getting out of hand, and someone has to stop her before she ends up on Dr. Phil’s sofa blaming me for all of her weird habits.
Unless, that is, perhaps you’ve seen Goldie?