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She’s looking at me with her old-man eyebrows right now. Her pink-and-black dotted foot lies against her gray-and-black mini-jowl. She’s almost asleep. Her humongous ears twitch every so often, when Joss Stone hits especially soulful notes on the stereo and any time Zooker moves.
Zooker, my 11-year-old Chow Chow mix, has a new, horrifying 15-pound companion. It’s not a tumor. It’s so much worse: a puppy.
He doesn’t mind her so much like this, curled up serenely, croissant-like, real-normal-lazy-dog-like, just a breathy little hill in the carpet. But the carpet smells like pee and that calm, gentle crescent roll has sunk deep tooth marks in Zooker’s tail – and our arms, my glasses, my husband’s cell phone, our chair legs, our box spring, our bookmarks and all the weeds in our backyard.
It’s as though she is both Hansel and Gretel and our house, us and everything we touch, is made of sopapillas and beautiful, crunchy peanut M&Ms.
Let me introduce Piqué, our 9-week-old (today!) Great Dane. About three weeks ago, Michael and I drove to Bixby, Okla., to pick her up. She had tiny ears then and she shivered the first time she was hoisted into my arms.
Actually, it was all kind of weird.
I had spoken with the breeder, Debbie, several times over the phone and through e-mail.
I knew that her grandkids frequently came by to play with the puppies. I had seen pictures of Piqué’s mother with the entire brood crawling all over each other to get to her belly.
Piqué, née Daisy, was the one on top, clawing her brothers’ and sisters’ heads to get in there.
I had seen lots of pictures. The breeder had sent me one weekly and I had made these photos my desktop wallpaper. I’d posted them on Facebook. I’d sent them to my mom and made all my friends tell me yes, she was more adorable than their children.
Seeing her for the first time, then, was not a surprise. She had become something of a celebrity in my mind, so it was a little bit like finding out Angelina Jolie is a real person, with three scented dimensions, but otherwise, Piqué was exactly as I expected.
The breeder, too, fit the image I’d built up of her.
Debbie was grandmotherly, spirited, knowledgeable and obviously very attached to our puppy.
I guess the weird part was the gas station.
This was my first time buying a pure-bred puppy.
My parents’ dogs came from friends, neighbors or the shelter. I got Zooker back in Silver City, where I served tables at a German deli. He was a tip.
Maybe all purebred puppies are handed over at gas stations.
The whole time I was there, wandering around the parking lot looking for an orange something – I couldn’t remember the make of her car, only the color – I kept thinking, does anybody working here know that lives are drastically changing next to pump 14?
Does she always sell her puppies at the Quik Trip? Your one stop for gas, maps and Great Danes?
While Michael bought a corn dog, Debbie hoisted Piqué through the open window of her orange vehicle. She handed me the papers, rubbed Piqué’s tiny ears with great emotion and told me to wipe her paws with wet naps if they touched the actual ground.
Our puppy had never been outside before. The pads of her feet were like silk, like pointe shoes right out of the box.
Anyhow, when Michael went into the store, we were three: me, him and Zooker. When he came out, we were four.
Then we all piled into our truck, drove home and here we are – two unprepared newlyweds, one dog and one insane puppy. But as I finish this column, she’s sleeping, a warm, wrinkly Oreo of a pet that fits right into our candy house.
And it is a kind of fairy tale, one without children in ovens, but nonetheless one where each of us takes a turn being the hungry children, the perfect treat and the evil witch – just like any other family.