An Unexpected Gift

So, this happened.  Her name is Coco and she’s nine years old and she’s a seven-pound bundle of fluff and enthusiasm.

I didn’t want a dog.  More precisely, I didn’t want to want a dog.  I’m still mourning Lila, and I wanted a year in Santa Fe without responsibilities other than myself.  I signed a lease that said “no dogs” and figured I’d re-evaluate next June.

Thing is, I desperately missed having a dog. I’ve had at least one dog my entire post-college life, with some small between-dog gaps.  I know myself enough (and I’ve had enough therapy) to understand my urge for caretaking and companionship. I was trying to enforce something different for myself; it wasn’t working.  So I asked my landlord about a dog, figuring if he said no, that would answer the question for the time being. Instead he said yes, possibly encouraged by the fact that I’d explained my options were restricted to about five no-shed, low-allergen, small foofy dog breeds that are not exactly thick on the ground in these parts.  I commenced with applying to various dog rescues here and in nearby states, filling out their extensive paperwork, etc., putting the general word out to friends here and sending my intentions out into the universe.

Then last week a friend sent me a link to a small terrier mix at the local animal shelter.  That particular dog likely wasn’t the dog for me (again, allergies) but it was a gorgeous early fall day and hanging out with some dogs sounded nice, so I went.  I played with the pup out in the meet-and-greet yard for about an hour, tossing sticks and balls and enjoying the change in the weather.  A young woman, a staff member I’d met on an earlier shelter trip, shadowed me, watching me play and asking a lot of questions about me and what I was looking for.  I didn’t mind; I figured it was part of the vetting process.  I showed her pics of Lila on my phone and waxed poetic about her various quirky charms, explained my allergies and that I knew I’d be waiting awhile for my particular haystack-needle.  I mean, I’ll talk your ear off about dogs, and plenty of other things.

And then she offered me a toy poodle.

I was a little slow on the uptake; I thought she knew about a dog coming to the shelter.  But no, she was talking about her dog, and would I like to meet her?  Because I seemed like a kind person, like the right person.

I met Coco in a parking lot after this young woman got off work.  It took, oh, three seconds of seeing her across the lot to know I was all in. We walked and talked for awhile, and then I volunteered to pick her and her things up early the next morning before the woman left for work.  And that night I waited and held my breath.  The woman loved the dog, it was clear, and/but wanted better things for her, a different life where she wouldn’t spend most of her days in her crate, alone.  It was both a hard thing and a brave thing this woman was doing.  I knew she might change her mind.  But she did not.

All pillows are her pillows, apparently.

And so here we are. That top photo is literally the first photo I took of Coco (one of my favorite perfumes, as you know) when we got to my house, and I swear she looks less loony in person but this picture makes me laugh.  She’s playful and funny and both reminds me of Lila (same size and breed) and is very different.  We’re still getting to know each other.  I’m letting her know it’s going to be okay, giving her cuddles when she wants them and space when she doesn’t.  She is awesome on a leash, which surprised me, I don’t think she got walked much.  We’re exploring the neighborhood, the two of us, with Coco enjoying lots of stops and sniffing about, greeting other dogs, and pets from strangers.  After the first couple of nights she scootched up the bed and now sleeps on the other pillow, right next to me.

The universe is a wild, amazing thing, isn’t it?  I didn’t expect to wind up with another toy poodle, wasn’t sure I wanted one after Lila, and I didn’t really want an older dog.  I said to a friend recently, it just makes the heartbreak come that much sooner.  And this friend replied tartly that none of us knows how much time we have, and if we’re wise, we’ll take each day we get and be grateful.  I also know that grief is the price we pay for that desire — to love and be loved – and how much emptier our lives would be without taking that chance, over and over again.

  • Patty says:

    I love this, and I am SO happy for you. As much as I say once my four are gone, I will remain doggless, I know that isn’t true at all. hugs, and she is cute as a button!

  • Mary says:

    What a wonderful story! I know you and Coco will bring a lot of joy to each other.

  • Sarah says:

    Silly leaking eyes here. You have been blessed March. As has Coco. And you both know it. Hoping to hear all the Coco stories.

  • Alityke says:

    May you have many years of love & joy together. The loony look of a tinypoo finding her perfect pad & person ??

  • rosarita says:

    Coco is a cutie pie! Having a pet opens up a whole different kind of love. We have a huge ornery gorgeous cat that we both love but boy, do I miss having a dog. The two of you sound like a perfect match.

    • March says:

      Thanks, honey! We are getting on really well; she loves her walks and is otherwise pretty undemanding, I think she’s loving all the freedom.

  • Nancy C says:

    Awww, March, she’s a dollbaby. There’s nothing like the sweetness of the first few days/weeks of getting acquainted with a new furry family member. Our neighborhood dog park is frequented by a toy poodle named Bear, and he’s just a hoot. Enjoy little Miss Coco!

    • March says:

      Haha Bear is a GREAT name for a toy poodle! Toys can sometimes be … weird and neurotic (Lila sure was) but often they have big-dog personalities and are quite charming!

  • Jennifer S says:

    I love it!! You wake up each day not knowing WHATS gonna happen or for what reason things do happen but isn’t that the beauty of it!

  • Dina C. says:

    So happy for you March! Coco looks like a curly bundle of happiness. So glad she landed in your lap! Sometimes the universe does know what it’s doing, and things work out just splendidly!

    • March says:

      She is indeed a delight, not as timid as I was expecting. Mostly she seems thrilled to go for walks, hang out, whatever the moment brings.

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    How wonderful that you were able to give this older dog a loving final home and gain a great companion!

  • Musette says:

    she is such a Loonyface! And, sweatergawd, you sound so much…. lighter. It’s because of her and because of that I love her already.


  • Tara C says:

    This is such wonderful news! She looks like a real sweetie. Wishing you many years of love together!

    • March says:

      Thanks! She is settling in nicely, which makes me happy, and of course I send updates almost daily to her previous dog-mom.

  • cinnamon says:

    How wonderful. Like it was meant to be.

  • Portia says:

    AWWWWW! I’m not crying….. much.
    Thisa is such a happy, beautiful post March. YAY! Coco found her forever human, and you found a crazy assed bundle of fluff. Fair exchange.
    Portia xx

    • March says:

      TOTALLY fair exchange! Now that she’s here, I can’t believe I doubted this arrangement for even a second.

      • Portia says:

        I’ve just been cuddling my greyhound Paris on the couch. He is balm for my soul. What could be better than a dogs love? That 100% open hearted, no strings attached, pure love. It’s the best.

  • cookie queen says:

    This is totally beautiful. Gives me great hope and made me cry. Brilliant.

    • March says:

      Awww, thanks. I knew there would be some sort of outcome, eventually. But I hadn’t pictured this or expected it to happen the way it did.

  • winterlude says:

    I don’t read everything that’s posted here, probably less than half. Of the things I do read, I would say probably half again is about perfume.
    Most of it makes me laugh, and a lot of it makes me cry. It also makes me think about other people. People I haven’t met and never will. The small and the big things in all the lives of everyone around me, around us, and how they/we are all the same.
    Thank you. Thanks for reminding me that despite all of our differences, huge fucking gigantic cataclysmic differences, that we are more alike than different.

    • March says:

      Thanks, and welcome. I miss writing about perfume, but since I can’t smell it, I’m using this opportunity to write about … well, anything and everything. And experiences like this remind me of the deep way that we are all connected, even though we can’t see it and don’t often think about it. This was a series of chance connections, any of which could have failed — what if I’d not gone to the shelter that day? Had not met that particular woman? But I did.

  • Rina says:

    We lost our last pup just over a month ago, and while waiting till next fall is best (Europe next summer) Petfinder has become my evening Tinder..pic/bio/swipe. I know when it’s time, the pet will appear whether I think I’m ready or not. Congrats to you both, hugs and tummy rubs!

    • March says:

      The HOURS I spent on Petfinder, and Craigslist, and trolling various shelters. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I wish you a bundle of furry joy in your future.

  • Taxi says:

    This is a gift from the universe – for you, Coco, and Coco’s prior owner. Enjoy!

    • March says:

      Thanks, honey. I’m sending regular updates to Coco’s previous dog-mom, who appreciates it, and enjoying this moment.

  • Kathleen says:

    Congratulations! I’m happy for you! Sometimes miracles happen when we least expect it, and turn out to be more perfect than if we had planned it. Give Coco (love the name!) a kiss from me.

    • March says:

      I will give her plenty of kisses! And I certainly did not see this plot twist coming … I figured it would be sometime early next year. I’m thrilled to have her, and she seems pretty darn pleased to be here.

  • Carolyn says:

    I’m so looking forward to meeting Coco! I have a feeling she’s gonna steal my heart! Skip is right…she looks like a muppet…in the BEST way!

    • March says:

      She does look like a muppet! Some of them (especially standard poodles) have this regal aloofness about them. Coco … does not haha. I can’t wait for you to meet her!

  • MMKinPA says:

    Awwww… she is adorable. We lost our 15yo beagle a little over a year ago, but haven’t been able to get another (my son is a senior in high school and might play football next year, which would mean a lot of travel…) enjoy!

    • March says:

      Oooh, senior year is a big year, I hope it all goes well, COVID makes everything a little weird. Wishing you and your son and family the best this year.