Two yard sales are located conveniently uphill (and upscale) from my house, in a neighborhood of brick houses with attached garages that have real doors. My neighbor’s house has a two-car garage, but they have hung blue tarps over the entrances instead of doors. Some bright entrepreneur ought to print tarps that look like garage doors.
The tables at the first yard sale were piled with baby clothes and Made in China knickknacks; of no interest to me, but across the street, attached to a fence, was a sign for Free Puppies.
I forgot about pots and pans and Christmas ornaments, dodged traffic to cross to the house where black and white pups were being held prisoner inside a large cardboard box. A pup, only a pup, I thought, lifting a tiny male and drawing him to my chest. A fragment of nature, one more extra mouth, and on the scale of things, unimportant in this big world. But he was a wisp of something innocent and beautiful in my arms, against my chest, in this crummy world.
Poor me, enraptured by his puppy smell, attached to him instantly with the glue of the heart’s nucleus, his soft little body, all white with black speckles, in my arms, to stay, so instead of kitchen towels, rusty planters, or used garden tools, I came home with IT and the resident canines were furious.
The puppy was thoroughly, indecently sniffed by my two females, who barked at the speckled boy as if he were a snake that had dared to slither onto the kitchen floor. Miss Piss the Elder, refused to share even a small space with him and left the room as soon as he crawled within six feet of her, but eventually she returned to watch the abomination through the doorway. The younger aunty was a bit more congenial, watching the invader from close up, but she jumped into the air with a yelp whenever his little nose reached out to touch hers. Number three (counting me) in the household, she is not about to yield one pat of attention to a spotted pup.
Apparently there is some doggy time limit within which an “invader” is expected to disappear: the ladies began hyperventilating in my direction, demanding that I evict the object that had trespassed into their home, although they were doing a fine job of it themselves, confining him within a tiny space on the floor with astonishingly meaningful growls and bared teeth.
Poor little pup – transported from the safety of the litter; helpless, and yet bold enough to face a beast whose head loomed like the Gorgon over his small body. Nature has sent him into the world immune to the poking noses and bared teeth, the cacophony of rejection. He is determined to be embraced by the tyrannical madams. Why do they not relent?? The two ladies didn’t care how much I wanted that tiny speckled boy to join our home. Why should they?
After hours of expressing their indomitable will, I had to confess that I was unwilling to have my days and nights made into snarling hell, and to break the aunties’ hearts by disrupting our satisfying triad. The house is quiet again and the dogs doze in the yard. Do they dream of the speckled boy? Have they encoded a shared myth of the time they repelled a repugnant outsider, forced on them by their beloved, but fickle, mistress? Has my flagrant disloyalty hurt their loyal hearts? Having forcefully reminded me of the duties of leadership, I returned the speckled beast to where I found him. I will be forgiven. They are dogs and could do no less.
The pup’s scent lingers here and there on my jacket, on the edge of the water bowl, on the kitchen floor. I strip off my clothes and toss them into the washer. His smell must be washed away, for my benefit, as well as theirs.