We had two dogs in my life. One named Topsy, because my mom was going to a weight loss group called Tops. I know, not very imaginative, but we loved him anyway. An aunt and uncle gave Topsy to us, because they thought he would cure my sister’s fear of dogs. It didn’t. He wasn’t an especially friendly and huggable dog and could be downright mean. We showered him with our love anyway, and he tolerated us when he felt like it, particularly when we gave him treats. And he never listened to us.
Then, in my early twenties, while working at Sears in OakBrook, a customer came to the customer service counter holding this adorable, teeny, tiny apricot toy poodle on a velvet pillow. I fell madly in love with her, but she wasn’t for sale. However, the customer said that the poodle had a brother, the runt of the litter--and he was for sale. My eyes lit up. She told me w here she lived. And one Saturday, without telling anyone in my family, I took a drive out to meet Mr. Runt.
I drove up to an old farm house in West Chicago. I knocked at the door, and the lady with the apricot cutie took me to the back of the house and whistled loudly. Out from the dirt and grime came this bedraggled gray and white thing. I couldn’t tell if it was a dog or a big rat. Its hair was matted, he was covered in mud and had these super long ears. And then he did the unthinkable. He ran right up to me, sat down and gave me a look that only a dog can give a human. He smiled. Yes, he actually smiled. And I was hooked. So, for a whopping fifty dollars, no papers and nothing to place him on in my pristine car, I scooped him up. So there he sat on my clean white shorts, listening attentively, as I told him about his new family.
On the way home, I remembered that I had forgotten to tell anyone about buying a dog. Topsy had been gone for a few years, but no one really wanted to deal with another temperamental pooch. Leaving the gray and white thing in the car, I went in, got a towel, went back to the car, covered the little rat and nonchalantly walked into the house. I hoped to escape notice by my family members having breakfast in the kitchen. Before I could get to the basement door, my eagle-eyed mom asked what the heck I was doing--then she saw my dirt stained shorts and came barreling after me into the basement. She let out a shriek when I placed the towel in the basement sink and it began to wiggle and make strange noises. I hesitantly removed the towel, and both the dog and I were now smiling at Mom, who I think fainted at whatever she thought was in the sink. When Dad heard me yelling for help, he dashed down the stairs, threw some water on my Mom’s face, and now two people were looking at our smiling faces, but they weren’t smiling.
With both parents giving me the parental stare down, I gushed on about how cute the sink rat was, or at least would be once I washed him and combed out his hair. Dead silence. I told them it hardly cost me anything, and he would be my dog and I would always be the one to take care of him. More dead silence. So, I proceeded to ask for some shampoo; my still silent mom handed it to me, and I began to scrub down the wiggling rat in the sink.
What appeared out of the mud and grime was one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen. He was gorgeous. After I blew dry his hair, he was even more gorgeous. Soft gray and white hair, big eyes and beautiful long ears.
After giving him a meal of people food and letting him snoop around his new surroundings it was time for bed. As all books said to do with a new puppy, I placed him in a box, with a clock and some towels, and left him in the kitchen where I thought he would just fall asleep, (especially after the meal I had fed him). I don’t know if it was indigestion or loneliness or the enclosed space he was in but he cried all night. After several attempts to sooth him failed, my dad came down and brought box and all into their bedroom, and silenced ensued. So much for trying to do the right thing by never, ever, spoiling a pet.
The next morning, after a sleepless night, I came up with the perfect name for my new best friend. Snoopy. He never fell short of acting just like Charles Schulz’s quirky little beagle, even though he was a poodle. He won over my parent’s hearts within a week and was unbelievably smart. Wherever I went (except for work), he went. In those days he could sit on my lap as I drove to friends’ homes, to parties or family gatherings. On the way to and from our outings he always listened to me chatter on about who we were going to visit, or sometimes I chatted and he slept. I think the steady hum of my voice put him to sleep. I would really not like to think that I bored him into snoring, but either way, it was always great to have him with me.
As time went by, and our relationship got closer, Snoop always watched for me to come home from work, running to greet me when I walked in the door. I loved holding him, taking him for walks and showing him off. On Sundays, after church, Snoop and I would drive over to the Oakbrook Shopping Center in our Sunday best and walk around the outdoor mall (me looking like Audrey Hepburn, Snoop looking like a little prancing poodle prince with his faux diamond dog collar). Those were the days. A girl and her dog. Unconditional love and friendship. Anyone who has had or has a dog, knows just what I mean.
Dogs love unconditionally (sometimes). They don’t talk back but give you dog looks. Sometimes they have “attitudes” of indignation, boredom, or laziness. Sometimes they don’t listen. They need to be totally cared for.
We had Snoop in our lives and our home for fourteen years. He won over my future husband, is in our wedding pictures with me, and became Uncle Snoopy to our sons. Then one day he fell asleep and never woke up again. Do I miss him? Every day.