Waylaid

Talk about where you were going the day you got lost. Were you alone? Did you ever get to where you meant to go?

It was 2010, and my divorce was almost final.  And I missed having a dog.

So I went to the Bideawee shelter in Murray Hill to look for an older dog; I had always been an advocate of adopting older animals.  While I’d never loved my ex-husband’s dogs — I still missed the company of canines.  And there had been a Lilly-shaped hole in my heart since my beloved silky terrier-mix had died in 2006.

But Bideawee had no older dogs available for adoption that day.  And I’d been searching for weeks; checking all the shelters in the city for dogs that would be compatible with my size-requirements and lifestyle.  The ones that fit at least one parameter weren’t a personality fit.  The dogs that were a personality fit where too big or too active.

I was having no luck.

But on the way out, the staff at the shelter said: Well, we have puppies.  Everyone likes playing with puppies.  Why don’t you just check them out?  Write down the name of one of them so we can sign you in to meet the dogs.

I looked through their book, and wrote down: Penelope.  And we were taken upstairs to greet Penelope and her brothers and sisters.

The staff led me, and Cheating Bill (who either wasn’t cheating at that point, or who I didn’t know was/had cheated), and someone else, but I cannot remember whom, through the shelter and up to the dogs.

There they were.

Penelope and I didn’t hit it off, but her brother and I did.  His name was Faraday, and he looked like he was made of leftover parts.

I had come for an older dog; gotten waylaid.  Fallen in love.  And that’s always how it happens, isn’t it — it happens when you least expect.  So 20 minutes later, I put in an application to take Faraday home.

24 hours after that, he was mine.

I had no puppy stuff anymore; no dog stuff.  My ex-husband had kept the dogs and all of their accoutrements.

So I was lost.  And the proud owner of an eight week-old pup.

IMG00573-20100810-1928The dog went for a week without a name before I caved and named him “Riley.”  Which some people will call him now, but he’s known around here as “Roo”  (his license says “Riley Roo” in case he is ever lost).  His tags are adorned with only my surname and phone number because they were made the day I brought him home, and he didn’t have a name.

About a year later, Cheating Bill was caught cheating, and again, I was lost.  I was left alone to care for a dog — and I’d just been hit by a car.  I had one working arm.  I had no idea how to manage our routine, or how I would even hold his leash.

I had no idea if we would be Okay.

But we were Okay.

My life with my dog has been a story of being lost, and being found — mostly of him finding me.  Taking me by the hand and giving me purpose; forcing me to put one foot in front of the other.  Rousing me out of bed when doing so would’ve otherwise been impossible.  Making it so I had to take care of myself because otherwise, I would not have been capable of taking care of him.

I suppose this goes to the bigger point that we all think we know what we want and what’s best for us, and sometimes, that’s not the case at all.  I had no idea, nearly three years ago, that a puppy of all things — a fuzzy, eight week old pup! — would be the thing that might save my life.

Every day, this thing that once waylaid me gets me to exactly where I need to go.

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