The Friday before last, Brooke’s former dance teacher, ‘A’ sent me a message. She asked if we were still looking for a Cavalier King Charles. She told me that a young woman had come to her mom with a one year old little Cavie. She was going to grad school, she said and she couldn’t bring him with her. She had asked A’s mom, Miss K to find a home for him.
I was confused. Why would someone randomly ask A’s mom to find a home for a dog? And why would it just happen to be the kind of dog we were looking for? A then told me that her family owns a pet center. They have a vet, a kennel and a pet supply store. At least the first question had a logical answer.
Miss K was tempted to keep him, but A convinced her to meet us. We spent a magical day at her house.
Winston is sweet and loving and gentle.
Brooke got closer to him than she has with any other dog. Katie fell in love. Luau fell in love. Even I was infatuated.
As we got into the car, Brooke said she wanted him to come live with us.
It was obvious, even to Miss K.
“There are FIVE people in our family now,” Brooke declares as we walk home from school with Winston.
Luau and I picked him up two hours ago. This is the first time the girls are seeing him since we met for the first time four days before.
We are following the steps of a carefully orchestrated dance. I picked up the girls at school while Luau waited around the corner with Winston. Brooke’s beloved behaviorist will walk us home – be there to help guide us.
We met up down the street, away from the schoolyard where the excitement of the crowd would have been too much to handle. The six of us now move toward home in a somewhat awkward clump.
Katie takes the leash. She walks him like a proud peacock. Neighbors and teachers stop to chat as they pass. She beams.
Brooke collects dandelions as we walk. Not a single one escapes her notice. She fills her backpack. There must be forty of them in there.
Katie says, “Mama, does she know those are just weeds?”
I smile. “It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it Katie?”
Her nails dig into the soft flesh of my neck as she scrambles her way up my torso. Adrenaline has taken over, effectively eviscerating any hope of reason or logic getting through.
She’s terrified. It’s plain, simple and visceral.
She wraps her legs around my waist – anything to keep her feet off the floor. Every atom of her being is tense – ready for fight or flight.
“NOOOO WIIIINNNNNNSSSSSSTTTTTTONNNNNN NOOOOOOOOO!” she yells. “WINSTON! WINSTON! WINSTON! NOOOOOOOOO!” She has no idea that by yelling his name she’s actually calling him to her. Thank God he’s confused enough by this odd little person that he does nothing but stand stock still. But he’s on high alert. It’s an odd, awkward show-down.
Her feet have not touched the floor on the first floor of our house since he arrived. She has walked on furniture, jumped from chair to sofa and back and scrambled up the side of any human being big enough to hold her.
As we lie together in bed I ask her, “Brooke, what do you think about having Winston here?”
I know it’s abstract, but I don’t want to put words in her mouth. I need to find a way to hear it from her. Have we pushed her too far? Does she still want this? Can it work? For three days now it’s been hard.
She answers quietly, “He loves us.”
“Yes, baby, I think he does. But what about you? Do you like having him here in our house – living with us?”
“Yup,” she answers softly.
“Brooke, do you want Winston to stay with us?”
“I do,” she says.
We lie together in the dark. I can hear her breathe and feel her little heart beat.
She adds one more thought.
“We love him too.”
Katie and Winston