“I got it son! I’m coming back with it!” he shouted over the phone. “Don’t worry about your mother–as long as you’re on board she’ll be okay!”
Pops–or Man Yan–came home that Saturday morning with a new toy. It was a two-month-old Pekingese pup, with fur as white as a snowflake and a face that melted gold. I couldn’t believe how small she was. I named her Pocket because she was small enough to fit in the pocket of my overcoat. She weighed no more than 4 pounds at most, and she was so tiny that I literally watched my every step so that I wouldn’t step on her and end a life prematurely.
Right when she came home, we gave her a quick bath so the full brightness of her coat would shine. Pocket looked even smaller when drenched, revealing a body no bigger than my foot. (Then again, I have clown feet.) We used Johnson’s baby shampoo because we didn’t have any real dog products. And we’re also Chinese, which probably doesn’t help. But I didn’t think she’d mind.
I felt like a father of sorts, a mini-dad. My friend Hannah says owning a dog is like having half a baby. I imagined a baby spliced in half–I don’t think that’s what she meant. But when Pocket had just arrived, I had already found myself reshifting my day’s activities and priorities so that she’d be taken care of. I was worried about her not eating, where she was pooing, and if she was cold during the day. And then I’d wake up in the middle of the night to tend to her lonely whining.
Pops is even more ridiculous. My dad was like a kid at the candy store. I think he called me 5 times throughout the day. He also wanted to make sure she was doing okay. He never asked me how I was doing. It was good to see Pops all giddy like a fat kid at the sight of cake.
But if Dad was like the shining sun, Mom was the heavy rain with a 100 percent chance of thunderstorm. When Mom found out about Pocket, she was pissed–she looked like she had just enlisted for the army. She couldn’t fathom raising another thing after 25 or so years of me and my sister. I think we scarred her.
After two days with Pocket, we realized Mom had won the war. We knew in the morning that we couldn’t keep her. It wasn’t fair to the dog, which would be shut in her little makeshift cage at home for most of the day, or to us–to Mom who didn’t have neither the time nor the energy to raise another life from the beginning.
I think sometimes we like the concept of the dog more than the dog itself. When we think of dogs, we often imagine something cuddly on lonely nights, a companion on the road, or like for my dad, a toy to play with. We aren’t awakened to the reality until we’re down on the floor cleaning up the mess it made on the wrong part of the house because it still hasn’t been trained.
I’m sad and disappointed because I liked Pocket a lot. She was a cute, good, and sweet puppy. She was a good dog that seemed intent on adjusting to her new surroundings. I think she would’ve been worth the trouble, but I just wouldn’t have been around. So she had to go.
I was legitimately sad for about three days. Pops said he had a hard time eating lunch the day he had to return her to the original owner. I didn’t know whether to laugh or frown.
At this point, I’m not sure which is worse: my history with dogs or my current track record with women. It seems like they’d always either leave me for another or run away. Half kidding. But I was glad we took a risk and built a memory that I’ll always remember. It was only two days, but I won’t forget her.
I still show her picture on my camera phone to my friends, kinda like what proud parents do with pictures of their kids. Alas, I never dealt with heartbreak well.