Thirteen years old, disappointed that my dad had forgotten to pick me up to spend the weekend with him (my parents are divorced), I light up my sister’s joint. This is the first time I get high. Sure enough fifteen minutes later he comes knocking on the door. The room is filled with smoke and stinks.
Did I forget that he’s a custom’s officer?
I’m completely blasted and paranoid as he takes me to a dog show. He is breeding Bearded Collies with his “stud” entered.
Feeling as if everyone knows I’m stoned, especially the security guards, I sit over by the obedience trials. One by one the dogs sat, came and performed other feats of training.
This is one of my early memories of dogs. We also had one growing up that I loved as a child.
Each time I’d be at a dog show, I’d inevitably end up hanging out where the Chihuahuas were. The puppies were so adorable and I’d plead to have one. Mom always said “no”. This of course was probably one of the first gay signs - that and loving Donna Summer. It’s as if it’s programmed in our DNA.
In 2008, I finally got my wish. Hildy, my now three-and-a-half pound dog, arrived after my having fetched her from Montreal. It’s amazing what dogs can do for you. She is my company, my long term relationship and baby that has gone with me everywhere. Pop her in my side bag and she’s good to go.
Last year I spent three months in Tel Aviv with her where she was a star wherever we went. Traveling was transformed into the experience of talking to everyone around me. Strangers stopped me and at the end of our conversations sometimes shook my hand and wished me a great vacation.
I always love the question “Why so small?” I’d say, “Why is your hair brown?”
Being on disability amd spending a lot of time at home, having a companion pet has been a life saver. When I’m feeling shitty or tired, I never feel like I’m completely alone.
A couple of months ago, I looked at Hildy and noticed how old she was starting to look. Her teeth were bad from the beginning and now she only has two teeth left. I’ve gotten used to seeing the goofy look of her tongue hanging out.
I started to look online for Chihuahua breeders, for the day when I may want to get another one. I call this the six year itch. I’ve had dogs since the 90s, mostly larger ones. Each one I got six years apart. It’s as if it takes that long for the memories of what it’s like to have a puppy fade.
Of course I saw a puppy with which I fell in love. Damn you internet! Sure enough a few weeks later, the breeder dropped off Henry, a 12 week old puppy.
Now my totally gay transformation is complete! When I do comedy or storytelling I’ll use the euphemism “as a guy who owns two chihuahuas” for "gay". I might as well embrace it.
They are my job now, besides the work I do producing storytelling shows (we just had a great one for the Toronto Storytelling Festival). One was really sick for a week and a half - thank you pet insurance for covering the over $2,000 dollar bill! Henry, it turns out, has Giardia, a common parasitical infection (all you rimmers out there will know this one!) and passed it onto me. Try as you might, just try stopping an excited puppy from licking your face!
I’m looking forward to spring weather arriving so I can start heading out to the park. I’m also looking forward to ending this round of Flagyl, the drug I say makes time stand still because it feels like the longest 10 days of your life.
So here’s to a belated Happy National Puppy Day on March 23rd. I don’t know what I’d do without my critters. Even when it’s difficult I’d never give them up for the world.