My friend leah calls me one rainy afternoon in 2006 in los angeles.
“are you home?” she says. I can hear the thunder through the phone.
“I am!” I say, and wait to hear what adventure she has up her sleeve.
“I just found the sweetest puppy that was abandoned in the park I was jogging through with my brother. She was scared of the rain and thunder and ran right up to me and jumped into my arms…at first glance I thought she was a tiny fox.”
A photo comes to my phone through text.
Ohhhh geeez. This little angel is cuter than any photo of any puppy I have ever seen. Deep soulful dark eyes and golden caramel brown fur that looks silken.
“I went across the street to a pet store to see if they had seen her or knew any information about her” leah says. “they said that someone had come into the store twenty minutes earlier to see if they could just drop her off at the store. When the store said they couldn’t take her, they said they were just going to let her out at the park and hope someone found her.”
My heart sank hearing this.
I look over at boogs. My one and only. My boy. My heart. And I wonder what he would think of this adorable fox-like visitor who was moments away from our front door.
I didn’t have to wonder for long…. I likened their immediate dynamic on my front lawn to two salmon fish chasing after each other—upstream, downstream….with leelee (whose name didn’t come up with until after I went through all the steps that one is to take to legally adopt a puppy and officially become their guardian and “owner”. I was told she is 8 months old) rolling over 6 times in a row, not stopping their joint momentum forward as both of them run at the fastest clip I have seen animals run at with my own eyes.
The sheer glee they are evidencing is surprising and relieving…probably because leelee had me at having seen her photo. And I prayed to the compatibility gods that boogs would like her. And that she would like him. For ultimately, their decision to sibling-i-fy was as if not more important than my wanting to be her mom.
Lee (as I call her) is a precious sweet-sweet. Her tenderness. Her capacity for snuggling. Her feistiness as she pads her paws onto my hands, couch or face when I am wrestling with her. The vulnerability in her eyes. The feisty protectiveness and power in her bark that belies her size. Her licks when she is receiving tons of love. How she rubs her nose when she wakes. How she hangs out with me at night when the boy pups are fast asleep…ready to process the day with me, girl-style, in the kitchen. She looks up at me as if to say: “so…how did it go today?”
I pick her up. Smooch the side of her cheek. And give her 25 seconds to lick my entire face. She loves carrots and green peppers and yams and cucumbers. And she loves to tuck her head into my armpit when I drive or when the environment is too much for her. Her eyes follow me when I walk across the room, just before she gets up to follow me.
She knew boogs was the alpha when they met. She seemed relieved at his having declared it in the silent sweetness between them.
As they napped on top of each other a couple of hours later, I looked at leah. We both had Cheshire cat grins on our faces.
“ummmm.. yea.” I say to her.
“sooo cute.” She says back.
“I think leaving her here would be great idea” I say.
“really?” She says.
“yes. And THANK YOU leah. The greatest gift you could have ever brought me.”
Leelee (named after leah) has never left. Yes boogs was a little bummed when he knew she was officially staying and not just dropping by for tea. But he quickly grew to adore her. I see him licking her eyes when they are about to sleep. I see him wondering where she is when she has the odd vet visit or teeth cleaning…
She is the guardian watch-pup..and he follows through to see if there is, in fact, anything to worry about. They tag team this way.
I think back to when I was living in Germany as a child.
I have a photo of myself holding two stuffed dolls: a white tiny animal. And a small brown animal. Both fluffy. I don’t think of this photo until I am sitting staring at them both, with leelee having become my girl and boogs her brave, sensitive and telepathic big brother. Wow. Prophecy. My eyes well up.
This long-held dream. A vision I never even knew I had from the time I was 3 years old. Here you are boogs. Here you are leelee. I have waited so long to love you both, in person.