The Ezra Chronicles, prologue

I’ve decided to blog about being a first-time dog parent. It’s harder than I thought it would be. Much harder. I plan to be painfully and brutally honest, but please keep in mind: It all works out happily in the end.

The Hauptman family does not have a great pet history. To wit:

  • My first pet, a turtle, who died on the way home from the pet store.
  • Numerous mutant goldfish, several of whom committed suicide (one who was curiously resuscitated — a whole ’nother story).
  • The hamsters, Laverne and Shirley. Shirley ate through the Habitrail and terrorized us until her capture in the Fisher-Price parking garage; Laverne died during one of my birthday parties.
  • Sammy, the beloved parakeet, who got cancer and had to be put to sleep.
  • And, of course, Chester, the puppy adopted on the advice of the school psychologist who said I needed something of my own to love. Long story short: He had to go back to the shelter, and I was scarred for life.

History disappeared with the arrival of Kona. My beloved niece is a chocolate Labrador retriever adopted by my brother when she was three weeks old. She changed my life from the moment we set eyes on each other. I learned the meaning of puppy love, something so wonderful and unconditional and fulfilling that I realized the school psychologist had been right all along. We bonded fully in a poopy bath, and I set upon being the greatest aunt ever to walk the earth.

My love for Kona — and every dog I subsequently passed on the street — led me to volunteer at Pets Unlimited, a local animal shelter. Every Wednesday for the past few years, I have walked rescue dogs. It is the best thing I have ever done in my whole life. The love and licks I get during a few hours one day can fulfill me for a whole week. Jeff started calling it Woofy Wednesday and even made me a website as a Valentine’s Day gift (this is what happens when you marry a dork), where I post photos of the dogs I walk each week.

I love all of them, but I have gotten a bit extra-attached to a few. There was Brazil, a 115-pound yellow lab who made me climb into a tree(!) to get a tennis ball she spotted lodged in a branch. Would such a big, galumphy dog be happy in our apartment? No. She has a home with a puppy-sister, Ivy, human kids and tons of trips to the beach. Her name is now Zoe, and she still finds me sometimes in the park where I walk the shelter dogs. She is very happy.

There was Little GaGa, a crazy-looking tiny spotted mutt with a handicap. I fell hard for her and her little piglet ears. Jeff and I even took her on a field trip to Crissy Field, where I’d hoped he’d fall in love with her, too, and she’d become ours. Alas, he didn’t. Plus, we met her parents-to-be when we brought her back to the shelter that day. I cried and cried, sure that she was meant for me and I’d lost my one shot at puppy happiness. Jeff kept saying, “But, honey, she has lesbians!” Oddly, that didn’t make me feel better.

Then Ariana, head dog person at the shelter, shared a video sent by Little GaGa’s new moms. Her name is now Maisy, and she has a dog-brother named Seymour, who was clearly waiting for her his whole life. I dare you not to cry when watching this video. Little GaGa is right where she was meant to be.

But what about me? Jeff really didn’t want a dog. But I did. A lot. So I thought. And so I convinced him we had to find our dog: an older girl dog who was already trained and wouldn’t need grooming.

Then one Woofy Wednesday not long after that, I met a one-year-old, part-poodle, boy dog named Fry.

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