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The Other Female in Our Bed

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I would rather have come home from my spa weekend and discovered my husband in bed with another woman than with a two-month-old Labrador Retriever curled between his legs. The woman would have been gone within seconds. As for that puppy? She was here to stay.

“Don’t you just love Ziva?” my daughter asked several days later as I sprayed yet another carpet deodorizer that promised to bring “pine freshness” onto our living-room carpet. “Isn’t she adorable and fun?”

I didn’t find anything adorable about chewing up every paper product in our house: coasters, napkins, books. Or anything fun about moving items with the slightest hint of wood pulp to a higher altitude.

“But you have to admit, Mom, a puppy is the best thing for Dad.”

On that, I had to agree with my daughter.

The previous year had been tough for my husband. After being diagnosed with a rare brain tumor (ironically, a type more prevalent in dogs), he survived an eight-hour surgery followed by seven weeks of radiation.


“Love—that which biologists, nervous about being misunderstood, call “attachment”—fuels the bond between dog and master or mistress.” John Bradshaw


During that period, his best friend and business partner of three decades died from liver cancer. After his friend’s passing, my husband spent hours watching TV. He lost his passion for cooking. He quit playing his guitar. He hadn’t seen a sunrise or sunset in almost a year.

Once Ziva entered his life, everything changed.

During those first weeks, he got up every few hours to let her outside. I’d often find him in the morning stretched on a lounge with Ziva cuddled on his chest. He began taking her for walks. He brought her to the pet store to pick out her collar and leash. He spared no expense on the finest puppy food. He took her to obedience school—where he learned to obey her commands.

The TV went unwatched. Our kitchen became filled with savoury aromas. In the evenings, we watched Ziva run circles through the backyard.

As the months progressed, Ziva grew from twenty to fifty pounds. Her culinary tastes expanded to include plastic items such as gift cards, inhalers, and pens. And, for dessert, she loved stuffing. And I don’t mean the kind found inside a turkey.

There went our patio chairs, swing cushions, and her heart-shaped bed.

And, little by little, there went my heart. How could I not love this precious puppy who brought my husband back
to me?

These days, if you enter our home in the evening, you’ll find all three of us in bed together—snuggling, loving, and taking care of each other.

* Story by Janie Emaus, excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Hilarious, Heroic, Human Dog. ©2021 Chicken Soup for the Soul, LLC. All rights reserved.


This article originally appeared in the award-winning Modern Dog magazine. Subscribe today!

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