I’m making lemonade. Literally crushing lemons and mixing the juice with water and sugar because I don’t know what to focus on for the next seven minutes. The apartment is shiny. Athena’s had a bath, and she’s still screaming a soundtrack of dismay while she dries herself under the dinner table. We’ve puppy-proofed our stuff as much as is reasonable. We’ve even cleared a spot where we’d put the crate if we’re approved. All that’s missing is a pup.
The Home Visitor arrives exactly two minutes early, produces her Homeward Trails Animal Rescue credentials so we know she’s not “just anyone,” and we welcome her in. I get gabby because I want to make a good impression. I’m nervous. A sideways-and-down glance from James silences me.
Before I can offer her some hand-squished lemonade made from anxiety, she’s looked in every room, under our bed and is on her way out the door.
“Thanks for your time. We’ll be in touch.”
The break-up pit of despair in the bottom of my stomach reopens, and I’m shuffling towards a trauma-nap when my cell rings. It’s our adoption coordinator, asking if we’d be around on Saturday. The Home Visitor thought we were great. We’re it.
Tuesday- the rest of the night. We’re going to be parents. Oh. My. Gahhhhhh. If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m a planner. Planners plan for every possible… everything. I begin to worry that four days isn’t enough time to get ourselves together. There are like 75 things on my list that have to be done before the furbaby arrives. I kid you not.
Within minutes, we’re off to Petsmart (or was it Petco) to spend a small fortune on a training crate, Kong™ toys, treats, food and bowls and, most importantly, a squeaky dragon toy instantly dubbed “Dragon.” It’s green and iridescent purple and James picks it out because he himself loves dragons and so naturally the pup will, too. Maybe we can bring it along when we pick him up. We rearrange our furniture and set up the crate. Neither of us can sleep from excitement.
Wednesday. Emails fly between us during work. We talk on the phone during lunch, a breach of our typical protocol. We happen to stroll over to the neighborhood dog park when we’re walking home from the grocery store with dinner, just to check things out. All conversation is dog-focused. We make changes to our schedule for Saturday, and eliminate all non-essential commitments for the next several weeks to allow for an adjustment period. We reach out to family and our closest friends with our big news. Again, no sleep.
Thursday. I contact our vet to schedule the first in a series of puppy check-ups. I fax over what little health-history paperwork we have for the boy. I inquire as to whether I should establish a quarantine for the cat so that she doesn’t pick up any bugs he may be carrying from the kennel. The vet tech is gracious and patient, “Is this your first dog?” Athena sniffs interestingly at the crate and dog toys we’ve set out around the apartment, so they pick up the smell of home. She pees on his crate bed. Awesome.
Friday. I schedule to be out of work the following Monday and Tuesday in order to facilitate crate training and to make sure both pets are transitioning appropriately. I might as well have taken today off, too, because I’m completely worthless from lack of sleep. I try to convince James we should change the spelling of the pup’s name to XOXO, so he can be the hugs-n-kisses puppy. The suggestion isn’t dignified with an answer. We line up friends and family to provide midday potty breaks to the pup when we have to go back to work.
Saturday- The Big Day. We drive out to the pick-up site and wait for the transport. 6 other expectant families fidget in the parking lot with their adoption coordinators. A “Silence of the Lambs” van curb-checks into the lot and the coordinators quickly pop the back doors and start releasing the dogs from their travel crates. We wait; leash, collar and Dragon in-hand, watching labs, retrievers and mutts get matched with their forever families. We’re starting to wonder if maybe another van is coming. Minutes pass and we’re (I’m) getting antsy. Then, one more dog sleepily lumbers out of the van. Black Collie tail, Newfie legs and feet, white star on his chest like a Carebear-stare. He’s bigger than we expect for 6 months old; shaggier. So handsome. James walks him over to a grassy knoll for a pit stop while I finish up our paperwork. We finally head back to the car to drive home.
Me. James. Dragon. And Zozo.