“If there is reincarnation, I want to come back as your dog.”
I was never sure whether this comment by an ex-boyfriend’s mother was a compliment or not.
However, I, too, had made some disparaging comments of my own. Over the years, when bemoaning my frequent disappointments in relationships, I often remarked:
“What can you expect? I was raised by wolves.”
Referring somewhat cynically to the fact that I’ve spend most of my adult life living with dogs. Period.
Perhaps it is the wisdom of hindsight. Perhaps I have finally accepted that I choose the company of canines. Whatever the reason, recently I found myself inventorying the relationships I’ve had with canis lupus familiaris.
I've always said that Walnut took care of me. Found on Walnut Street by Emily Deane and brought home to Olney in a cab, Walnut wound up with me when Emily’s parents refused to let her keep a dog. I, on the other hand, at 22 already had my own house. And then, with Walnut’s arrival, my own dog. Though she lived the first years of her life in a state of benign neglect, Walnut probably saved mine. From what I was able to piece together at the time, Walnut apparently met a burglar at the top of the stairs and escorted him out the back door. All he got for his trouble was an obsolete pocket calculator. Walnut got a steak. I am proud to say Walnut spent the last years of her life in a Center City high-rise where Charles, the door man, greeted her by name every single day.
Found on my birthday, Kizzy’s full name was Kismet, for obvious reasons. If any of my dogs truly was a wolf, she was the one. Resembling a little coyote, Kizzy had the wiles to match. She wiggled cunningly into Walnut’s empty space and stayed for 13 years. Almost literally my constant companion, Kizzy traveled to Florida, North Carolina, and New York, as well as to most of my appraisal assignments. She is immortalized in Mutts: America’s Dogs by Brian Kilcommons and Michael Capuzzo. (Still in print...in case you're interested).
Nicky arrived as Kizzy was entering her dotage. A puffy Pomeranian, Nicky was my only alleged purebred. Nicknamed “The Mayor,” Nicky loved people and delighted in greeting everybody. Though he arrived in middle age, Nicky hung around until he was about 14 years old and was best known for providing background music whenever I answered the phone.
What do I say about Pepper? My friend Lorraine cajoled me into a visit to the Humane Society of Ocean City soon after Nicky’s death. “A dog is not a boyfriend,” she chided. “You can get another one right away.” Pepper was my “special needs” dog. She gave the first impression that she had no intention of being anyone’s best friend. In the shelter for six months, she lacked most of the canine social graces. My “Fox Terror,” Pepper nonetheless endeared herself to me and to a select few around me. I lost her too soon to lymphoma, but not before she ingratiated herself in her quirky, noisy way, with the admissions and oncology staff at Penn Vet.
And now there is Mi Amigo, aka Migo. Enter Lorraine again: barraging me with Petfinder photos after Pepper was gone. The closest I have come to online dating is falling in love with a lop-eared, red Chihuahua mix. Mi Amigo – placid, with an “I’ve seen it all” look in his eye - is my furry Valentine, my friend.
So, maybe I really have been “raised by wolves.” Certainly, none of my boyfriends treated me as well as my canine companions. I am proud to say, though, that I treated most of my boyfriends like dogs.
You know, that ex-boyfriend’s mom was an attractive redhead and Migo is…do you think?