A year ago today, I walked into Citipups in the West Village with my friend M after an afternoon of walking around my favorite spots in the city. It was my birthday and since I didn’t want to spend the time alone, M sweetly met up with me and we entertained ourselves through stores and shops, bars and cars that don’t slow down when you cross the street.
I wanted to go into that petstore, the one that’s near my friend K’s apartment that always has puppies in the window, cuddling up against the glass, looking entirely irresistible. Since its close to my job, on stressful days when I needed a little affection, I’d come in and just smile at the pups, imagining what it’s be like to own a little nugget.
But I couldn’t, seriously I couldn’t.
My schedule is too crazy, my time too precious. I’m dating and going out with friends, spending too much time away from my apartment and probably not saving enough. Dogs are so expensive and they need training and toys and wee wee pads and more love than I can give. It not the right span in my life to commit to a fury something, no matter how badly I wanted one.
Until I saw that clearance puppy in the corner.
She was sleeping with her white face looking out into the store, her front paws crossed underneath her body. There was a sale sticker next to her name: “white/brown female Maltese/Pomeranian.” I asked the clerk why such a cute girl would be discounted and he told me because she was six months, she was too old to make much money off of and would soon go into heat. I looked at her delicate face and long tongue, and though I knew I shouldn’t, I asked to see her.
As soon as she hit the floor of the play pin she went running — in circles, across my lap, M’s lap, around and around. I would later learn she didn’t even know hep go walk on a leash, a fun fact that pet stores keep hidden, since it would reveal their neglect. She didn’t stop moving until she hopped up on my lap, planted a smelly, puppy breath kiss on my cheek, curled up on my bent legs and fell asleep.
I was done for.
I asked M about a hundred times if I could really go through with it, adopt this dog that had no name and already felt so perfectly meant for me. She licked my hand and rolled over to expose her pink belly, looking up at me like she just knew, just like I just somehow knew, too. M reassured me while adding a side of reality — my life would change, my choices would now involve a white fluff ball who needed attention.
I’m still not sure what came over me or how I reached the decision I did, but I handed over my credit card and a chunk of my savings to purchase my clearance puppy. Sure, she might be from a puppy mill and I would have preferred to adopt a rescue, but moments happen. And when it feels like the right match, your best bet is to take a leap and hope for the very best.
Now, Lucy Liberty (after the city she lives in and I love), is the first thing I see and the last thing I cuddle every day. She is there to greet me with happiness and energy, after long days at work and awful dates that seem to never end. She has taught me the important and difficult lesson of patience and how to put my needs second to care for something who needs me. My room — amazingly — has stayed mostly clean for an entire year, a huge accomplishment if you ask my past roommates and boyfriends.
I’ve spent so much more time exploring the city and walking outside because I had a tiny companion to come along on the journey. She’s the perfect excuse to why I can’t go out when I don’t feel up to, or a way to end a drink meet-up because I’m just not feeling it. She has costs me money and shoes, laptop chargers and furniture, peed on things I didn’t know you could pee on, and shown me an unconditional kind of love and senseless laughter that I didn’t know a pup could evoke.
It hasn’t always been easy, and at times I’ve doubted my decision and if it was the best move for me, right now. Maybe it’s not, maybe she holds me back from another round or puts a damper on day-long weekend plans, but she’s worth it.
All I wanted for my 24th birthday was a pet of my own, even if I didn’t know it or admit it. Lucy came into my life just when I needed her, just when she needed me.
And today, on my quarter life birthday, I not only celebrate 25 years of this crazy life, but one full year with my girl. My only wish this go around is to find the kind of happiness that she brings to me in other places of my life. And to enjoy anything as much as Lucy enjoys off leash hours in Central Park. It’s true, sometimes the things you want the most is the freedom to go as you please, but always come back to a place and a person who loves you.
When I think of the years to come and all of the change that will come with age – job and location changes, boyfriends and eventually a husband, pregnancies and babies, homes and gray hairs, new adventures and friendships that transform, too — I’m excited that I not only get to have those amazing experiences, but that I have a little pup that’s on board for the journey, too.
Happy one year since we met, little bit! I promise I’ll take you to the park after my birthday dinner tonight!