How I Met My Dog: …And Then There Was Artie
I used to live in a 30th floor condo in Atlanta, Georgia. I’d see my neighbours travel 30 floors down with their dogs to go “potty” or take a walk. I would shake my head when I’d see them out with their dogs in the snow or rain or intense heat wondering why normal, seemly intelligent people would do this. I was sure glad that wasn’t me.
And then there was Artie.
As with some of the best things that happen to us, I did not plan at all for Artie to come into my life. It all started with a call from my daughter in Tennessee almost screaming in to the phone that I “needed” to take this dog that needed a home.
We had just made a move to the suburbs and were spending our first Christmas there with our grandchildren. “We can’t have a dog, remember? Your step-dad is allergic,” I mindlessly reminded my daughter while picking up coats and shoes. “But Mom, I remember you said you could have a hairless dog ,” she replied. “Are you kidding me?” I asked,” You seriously have a hairless dog that needs a home?” All at once she was talking 100 miles an hour. “Mom, he’s sweet and the cutest one I’ve ever seen and if you don’t take him this weekend they’ll take him to the shelter and you know it’s a kill shelter!” By then my husband is looking at me with a questioning look. He can’t hear what she’s saying but he can tell she’s upset about something. “She has a hairless dog that needs a home or it’s going to a shelter. I told her no,” I mouthed to him. “Oh just take it,” he said. “If it doesn’t work out we’ll find it another good home.” So I told her fine, I’d come get him the day after New Year’s when I brought the kids home. “I’ll go ahead and pick him up for you and you can just come to my house and pick him up.” And that’s how I found myself making the four-hour drive the day after New Year’s to pick up a homeless, hairless dog.
I arrived at my daughter’s with dreams of a petit hairless dog with big fluffy ears and feet and a bouncy tail. She met me at the door so excited she could barely contain herself. “There he is,” she said. And yes, there he was. A very tall bag of bones with only a few sprigs of a Mohawk on his head and about three hairs on the tip of his tail. His bones were protruding out of his skin and he had a sickly grayish pallor. But then I saw his eyes, the most beautiful almond-shaped chocolate brown eyes I had ever seen in my life. And it was love. I sat down on the couch he jumped in my lap, curled into a ball, and didn’t move for over three hours. I knew from that moment on, this was my dog, my baby.
The next morning we began the trek back home to Atlanta.
As soon as I pulled in the driveway the man who didn’t want a dog was already out the door and to the car to see him. “Oh, he looks kind of different than I thought he would,” he said. “Uh, yeah, me too,” I said. “But he’s really sweet.”
Well, that was the beginning and now Artie is a beautiful gray-brown colour, with a beautiful white Mohawk, a little white hair on his feet, about ten whole hairs on his tail, black fringe on his ears, and those same gorgeous eyes. We’ve had milestones in between then and now and I think we’ve finally taught him what love is.
And what has Artie taught me? That there’s something special about a dog who loves to smell honeysuckle and stick his nose in hydrangea bushes, how much fun it is to run into wind storms together, and how when you’re going through the worst time of your life your four-legged best friend can get you to smile when no one else can.
Now I am a true picture-carrying, storytelling, magnet-on-the-back-of-my-car Dog Mom. And when people who haven’t seen me for a while ask, “What happened to you?” I tell them, well, Artie. n