[Note to readers: This is the second of a two-part story introduced in the Nov. 1 edition at shawurl.com/3aed.]
I was so torn. Noah wanted to keep the 8-week-old puppy we’d just adopted minutes earlier, but Holly, grieving for the Big Red Dog while cradling the pup on our ride home, said she wasn’t ready after all.
Uh oh. What to do? Turn around? Stop the car? Paralyzed with ambivalence, I shifted into autopilot, mulling my options. But guess what happens when you do that? When you leave your foot on the gas? Eventually, you end up in your driveway faced with the stark reality that sooner or later things will get real and the precious newborn pup who also is counting on you to do the right thing [So many right things. Which one’s rightest?] will have to pee.
Yeah, weird moment. Not the homecoming I had imagined as the kids and I happily brainstormed doggie names on our way to the shelter that morning.
“We gotta do something,” I said quietly, and finally opened my car door.
I told Noah to walk the puppy for a bit. Holly had to leave for her part-time job, so I mumbled something lame about how we’d “figure this out” as I hugged her goodbye. I still had a decision to make, but, in the meantime, the pup had to eat. I had dog food to buy, a crate to borrow and a baby gate to rig, so Posey, our aging cat, could escape if he needed to.
I drove to the pet store and called my mom from the parking lot. “What do I do?” I asked. And then I called my friend Sally, who volunteered the use of her crate. They reassured me that it may take some getting used to, but they knew Holly. She’d come around, both said.
But would she? My sweet Holly, tenderhearted and true, she hasn’t got a dramatic bone in her body. But she was hurting. Would keeping the puppy help or would it hurt more? I know her heart went out to her brother, who really wanted another dog, which had something to do with how we ended up in this impossible dilemma, but I knew, too, that she was hurting, and that grief sometimes conjures other griefs, too.
This was impossible. I hated to force the puppy on her, but I also worried that she, my veterinarian-to-be, might suffer a hit to her confidence were we to take her back. Ahh. I had to decide. [Parenting is so hard sometimes. Waffling for too long helps no one.]
The next afternoon [during which, ironically, poor Holly gave a speech in school about the merits of adopting from animal shelters], I told her I knew her heart wasn’t in it, but that we’d take our time and it’d be OK, somehow. I hoped I was right.
I headed to the kitchen to busy myself with the dishes [At least I wouldn’t screw up that, right?], and barely a few moments later spotted Holly. She’d sat back down to finish her homework, this time with a puppy napping in her lap. All I could see from the kitchen were tiny puppy paws, but sure enough, there she was. I held my breath …
“Here’s some motivation,” I said the next day as I reached into my pocket.
“You got money?” Noah asked.
“Right. Not anymore I don’t,” I said. “But we have a Daisy.”
A dollop of Daisy, aka Dizzy Daisy, Lazy Daisy. This girl’s a total couch potato; it only took her a day to figure out how to hoist herself up onto the sofa. My personal favorite is Oopsy Daisy, that thing I spontaneously said after she wriggled outta my arms later that night, landing squarely in Holly’s lap.
The ice began to crack. We all laughed, and it was decided we’d call her Daisy. She’d stay. The next morning, “Bye, dog,” Holly said, before kissing Daisy on her head and driving off to school.
“We need bells like Joe and Sarah have, so I can train her [to alert us that she needs to go outside],” she said later that afternoon. Huh. So “I” can train her, she’d said. OK. I exhaled.
And when I got home from work came her words: “We took a nap together.”
“Aww, sweet Daisy,” I said and kissed them both. It would be OK.
“Her name is Daisy Grace," Holly corrected.
“Ah, Daisy Grace it is,” I replied. So there’s grief and there’s grace. Side by side. Well, amen to that.