Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pickles, a love story

Six years ago in November, the now ex-husband, Sparky came home from an afternoon with friends begging to adopt a dog named Pickles. Pickles was a year and four month old black cocker spaniel (with a white chest and little white goatee - see the My Guys post for a pic) whose owner had just turned him in at the Morris Animal Refuge in Philadelphia. I think the story was that Pickles original owner was mentally ill and was afraid that she wouldn't be able to continue caring for him for long. Sparky really wanted this dog.

We were living in a trinity house in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia at the time. A trinity (or father/son/holy ghost as some people call it) is a three story house, one room to a floor, all connected by a spiral staircase. We had a kitchen and a little utility room on the basement level, a living room on the first floor, a bedroom and full bath on the second floor and a little room (the lounge) with a full bath on the third floor (which was not always a good place to hang out with it's distance from the kitchen). All four floors were connected by an open metal spiral staircase. The cat was a big fan of the staircase because she could lie in wait on a step and then swat at people's heads as they came up the stairs.

So, it was a fine house for a cat, but not really a house for a dog. We had no yard, but a shared concrete courtyard. I went to school four nights a week, straight from work, so I was out of the house Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m, until 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. Doggies should have room to play, they should have a run and play, they should have plenty of living room and kids to play with and people to spend time loving and petting them. We had none of this. I thought it would be better for the dog for someone else to adopt him. Sparky disagreed.

He went every day to play with Pickles. He wanted to come home, whenever he felt like coming home and have a dog that would be so grateful to Sparky for saving his life. He wanted the unconditional love and devotion that you get from a dog. He wanted to tell people how he saved that dog's life. He wasn't thinking at all about the dog. I got the old, "I will take care of him. I will feed him and walk him and keep him clean and healthy. I will do everything." I got flowers with a card signed, "Pickles". I said "No." It just wasn't fair to get a dog strictly to feed into Sparky's narcissism. But, he knew how to get me. The Morris Animal Refuge is not a "no kill" shelter. They had no set schedule, but if the place started to fill up, they started to put the animals down. I could not be responsible for the death of an animal. I gave in and by the next Saturday, Sparky raced to the pound to pick up the dog.

A funny thing happened when Pickles first entered our little house. Although Sparky expected eternal gratitude and devotion for having rescued Pickles from the clutches of the grim reaper, that wasn't what he got. Pickles spotted me, ran for me and has been figuratively and literally (whenever possible) attached to me ever since. He is a total mama's boy.

Luckily we didn't stay in the city long after that because although Pickles loved to climb the stairs, he was afraid to come down them. We would carry him downstairs to the kitchen for dinner and he'd gobble his food and make his way to the third floor, where he would then whine and howl until we went to get him. In the mornings I would get ready for work and Pickles had the routine down. As soon as he saw me put my shoes on, he would jump up on the bed and get ready for me. Then, I would pick him up (like a baby, with his back legs wrapped around my waist and his front paws and head resting on my shoulder) and carry him down to the first floor for his walk before I put him in his crate, with a blankie and a toy, while I went to work.

Next Post: Pickles moves to New Jersey and Piksea and Sparky split up.