It’s almost six months since Tuffy joined our household, and I can’t count how many times people have said to me, “You got a dog? But I thought you were a cat person!”
Well, yes, I am a cat person – a pretty good cat person, actually. Our now-retired awesome house-call cat-only vet once said to me that I “have amazing natural instincts with cats.” I get cats, and they get me, and I was more than happy with our three amazing cat sibling housemates. But – and this is a big but – I have always wanted a dog.
When I was in fifth grade, I vividly recall wanting a collie more than anything in the world. We had our Tabby cat, who was awesome, but I really, really, REALLY wanted a collie who looked just like Lassie. I was actually completely devasted when my fifth grade class gift, which was voted on by all my classmates when I was not in the room, was to give me some aluminum foil because I was so creative at making figures out of the aluminum foil in which my mother used to wrap my daily (endless) tuna fish sandwiches. Meanwhile, one of my classmates received as her gift a tiny porcelain figure of – a collie. I went home and sobbed into my pillow because I was the one who wanted a collie, not my classmate. (Now, with adult perspective, I think it’s kind of cool that my classmates thought I was that creative…but yup, I still would like that collie figurine.)
By the time I was in my twenties, I had decided that I wanted a German shepherd. I was watching the Uncle Matty television show on PBS, and I was completely sold on well-trained German shepherds as the ultimate dog companion. I was so focused on getting one that I bought a book by Matthew Margolis on how to train a German shepherd puppy so that it would be loyal and well-mannered and non-aggressive. I didn’t have the ability and opportunity to get a German shepherd puppy, so ultimately I ending up mailing that book to my sister who lived in a rural area and had a stray adult German shepherd who ended up on her property. Which is to say, I can’t produce the book as proof of my obsession, but it was real – and to this day I melt a little whenever I see a German shepherd.
And then when I was in my thirties and forties, I had fixated on golden retrievers as the ultimate dogs for our lifestyle. Jim doesn’t know this, but I used to troll the adoption sites of rescues that adopted out older goldens, since I figured that an older golden would be the perfect addition to our household. It seemed like it was extremely difficult to adopt an older golden, so I never put in an adoption application, but the dream lingered.
Fast forward to this decade of my life, and after the sadness that came of adopting Clara (part hound and part black lab), for whom we had to find a new home after seven months of terrified cats and my needing to use my inhaler four times a day, I had kind of accepted that a large dog wouldn’t fit in with our cats and most likely would be a huge source of allergy and asthma misery for me. For a couple of years after Clara moved on to her awesome new family I didn’t look at dog rescue sites too frequently…and then in the last year or so I started looking again. I found the Vintage Pet Rescue site when they were referenced by another rescue that I followed, and I started following them on Facebook. Facebook being what it is, before long the first post that would pop up in my feed each time I logged on was a Vintage Pet Rescue post, and I realized that these older small dogs were pretty awesome and would probably be a great fit with us.
And then came Tuffy. It was almost like the stars aligned and I saw his listing on VPR right after it was posted, and with Jim’s blessing applied right after I saw the post, and then three days later we were driving home from Rhode Island with this amazing, sweet, smart, cute, funny, and incredibly loyal dog in our backseat.
So, from collie to German shepherd to golden retriever to a twenty-two pound Shih Tzu/Pekingese/Pomeranian mix who now is my best canine buddy. We’re on vacation this week, a staycation as usual, and today Jim was outside burning brush and doing other yard work while I stayed indoors (all that smoke ain’t good for these lungs!). Tuffy was very worried about this man who he kept spotting through the sliding glass door (Tuffy has cataracts and can’t see as well as he’d like). At one point while I was making lunch in the kitchen, Tuffy kept barking at me, intent on getting my attention, and finally resorted to urgently nudging my leg with his nose. We’d just been outdoors for a pee break, so I knew that wasn’t the issue – and then I realized that Tuffy was incredibly worried about my safety with this man hanging out in the yard. How cool is that, I thought. This sweet little dog loves me that much – and I love him that much right back.
And then I started thinking about my career. From the time I was five years old, I wanted to be a writer. Clearly, that hasn’t happened, and isn’t likely to. But then I thought maybe I’d like to be a professor, or a high school English teacher, or an elementary school teacher. And I had many successful and happy years working as the manager of a small independent specialty toy store, which was lovely and fun and suited me well, though I always wished to have a job that had Meaning and Significance, and thus moved on from retail to get my Master’s in Children’s Literature with the thought that I could do something with that degree (honestly, I had no specific plans on what to do with my MA in Children’s Lit while I was pursuing the degree).
Somehow, though, after all those other varied career aspirations, I managed to land in the perfect profession for me: children’s librarian. I never in my wildest dreams thought of being a children’s librarian, or indeed any kind of librarian, when I was younger, or even when I was in my twenties or early thirties. But now here I am, seventeen years and counting in my job, with a newly minted MLIS, and I couldn’t be happier with my career situation.
A children’s librarian of long standing who has a wonderful sweet elderly small dog. Who knew that these were the things that would make me happy.