"Don't be mad," he said.
Not exactly the words I wanted to hear coming from my cell phone. On my son's birthday. Two days before Christmas. While family was in town.
I was even more surprised by what came next: "Do you have $15 cash?"
About thirty minutes earlier, my husband had gone on a Dunkin Donuts run for the family. He took a route we frequently used; I traveled it at least once a week.
And I'd seen the sign: FREE PUPPIES. The kids always made sure I saw the sign. Every couple of weeks, the breed (or mix of breeds would change), but the sign was perpetually there. I'd just chosen to ignore it. Especially since we'd decided this wouldn't be a good thing for our family with a possible move in our future.
And yet, here we were, at the crossroads. Would I bend or would I be the fun sucker?
Yeah. I bent.
My husband swung by the house, picked up the cash and our oldest son (Christopher was now his unknowing accomplice), and headed out to seal the deal. Before they left, I asked only that they make one additional stop on their way home that evening to get a crate, kibble, and whatever else this alien creature might need. The last thing I wanted to do on Christmas Eve was be anywhere near any shopping centers.
And that was that. For the first time in fifteen years we were dog owners again.
She wasn't my dog (I made that clear), but I boiled chicken and rice for her over the next several days until she got over her worminess. My daughter would ask, "Do you love her? When will you love her?" I'd answer, "Maybe when she stops throwing up on my floor."
She wasn't my dog (I reminded the family), but I helped to clean up her occasional accidents (usually caused by the excitement of meeting a new friend). "Do you love her yet?" AnnaKate continued to ask. "Not yet, maybe when she stops wetting on the carpet," I answered, "But I do sort of like her" (bending down and patting the puppy on the head as I walked by).
She wasn't my dog (I reiterated when they returned from the vet), but when her leg was splinted due to a pulled tendon, I wrapped it in plastic so she could potty in the rain without getting the bandage wet.
That's when she got me. I wrapped it the first time, then removed the plastic wrap when she came back inside. The next time she had to go out, she stood at the front door and held the paw up for me, just looking at me with big brown eyes.
I think AnnaKate must have seen me as I wrapped the paw again. "Mama, do you love her? You do love her now, don't you!"
Doggone it. I did. And somehow, a silly little puppy named Bella has captivated us all.