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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

 

And Puppy Makes Three

I got married at 23. My husband was 22, just a week out of college. But we’d been dating for 5 years at that point, and we just knew. “You’re so young to be getting married,” everyone said. Then, in the next breath, “When are you having kids?” We didn’t know if we wanted kids – we still don’t know – but we knew we couldn’t live without a dog.

* * *

Our dog’s name is Cosmo. He’s almost 6 years old. He is black and tan, about 35 pounds, with sweet, expressive eyes and the softest fur you’ll ever feel. He likes attention from people, long walks, baby carrots, chasing sticks, naps, and humping pillows. He has been known to emit long, insistent, multi-octave howls – but only when he has something to say.

* * *

We got Cosmo at a farm in Winchester, Virginia, 3 months after our wedding. He was 7 weeks old. Driving home we tried out different names – Jackson, Homer, Brownie – but settled on Cosmo because when we said it, he stopped crying. For weeks he wouldn’t fall asleep in front of us. He kept us up all hours. I thought we might have to give him away. Then we took him to puppy kindergarden. He was a whole new dog. The structure let him relax – he understood his place in the pack. The trainer said it was good how much I talked to him during the exercises.

* * *

I have been known to be fairly high-strung. I’ve gotten better lately, but for most of my life, little things have gotten to me more than the average person. Case in point: we were living in a tiny apartment on Kalorama Road – tiny as in, about 500 square feet, and you walked through the kitchen to get from the living room to the bedroom, and the bedroom was only big enough for…the bed. I was having a rough week – I don’t remember why -- and the toilet kept overflowing, and when the toilet overflowed for the third time in 2 days, I just lost it. Broke down crying. And Cosmo came to me, and nuzzled me, and let me hug him, and even though I already loved him, that was when I really loved him.

* * *

One night last winter I went to an improv class I didn’t usually attend, and I was making small talk beforehand with a couple of women I didn’t know very well. I said something about my husband, and one of them yelped, “You’re married?! Oh my God, I assume everyone’s 23 like me.” I didn’t mention that I was married at 23. This was right before Valentine’s Day, and the women – now fascinated with the fact that I was married – said, “So you probably have big Valentine’s Day plans.” No, I said. My husband feels like it’s a Hallmark holiday and I don’t mind. He actually has class that night. “Oh,” one of them said, “well I’m having a bunch of people over, you should totally come.” “Thanks so much, but I actually need to be home for our dog that night, since my husband has class.” They stared at me. I explained, “He’s alone all day, while we’re at work. It’s not nice to leave him alone at night, too.” “Whatever,” the woman said. “If you don’t want to come to my party, that’s fine.” “I’m not making excuses – I really need to be with the dog.” “Ok. Whatever.” We sat awkwardly. “I can’t believe you’re married.”

* * *

A weekday morning, somewhere in Kalorama:

Me: So you can be home by 6 tonight? Because we need to leave at 7 to get to the restaurant on time, and Cozzie needs at least an hour of company.
My husband: I’ll try.

Later that night:

Me: I feel so bad for Cozzie. It’s not nice when he only has an hour of company after being alone all day.
My husband: He had a walk this afternoon, and I gave him a nice walk after work. He’s fine.
Me: I just feel bad.

My husband tells me either not to make plans, or not feel bad when we do. He’s right. But it’s hard. Our friends like to do things on weeknights – grab a drink, meet for dinner. Sometimes we like to retreat and be homebodies – but sometimes, on a nice spring evening, sitting home in our one bedroom apartment feels like we’re missing out.

* * *

House-hunting sucks. Trudging through neighborhoods we don’t want to live in, looking at shitty overpriced houses, getting in and out of our car, feeling like we’ll never find a place with the space we want, in a location we want. It’s exhausting. We come home, finally find a parking space, stagger into our apartment – and there is Cosmo. Bounding out from the bedroom to greet us, tail wagging, eyes bright, curling his body against my legs and looking up at me, ready to be pet. Welcome home.

* * *

It is a Saturday afternoon and we are throwing sticks for Cosmo in the park and he is bounding towards us, smiling.

* * *

Wednesday night, at Larry’s Lounge, at 18th and T. Dogs are allowed on the patio. It’s a beautiful spring evening. The waiter brings out a bowl of water for Cosmo, and coos and pets him, as do the people at the next table. Cosmo basks in the attention. My husband and I drink beer and order curry from the Malaysian restaurant next door, and talk, and Cosmo lies at our feet, nibbling baby carrots. The sky is pale blue.

Comments:
Woof! I love it!
-JMC
 
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