Fair warning, people: we’re about to get sappy.
About two years ago today, Brian and I officially adopted a surly little pug named Siddhartha.
It was a surprisingly difficult feat to accomplish, although looking back at the events of the time and how they unfolded, it seems as though some magical force had determined long ago that Sid belonged by our side. And I’m pretty sure that force was Bea Arthur.
No, not that Bea Arthur.
This Bea Arthur:
See, I was never a dog person. They just always seemed so…needy. And the slobber…oh, God, the slobber! For me, cats were where it was at. I adored cats – so dainty and independent and not slobbery. I couldn’t get enough of them. I was obsessed, and I begged my parents constantly for a cat of my own. I remember, when I was eight, waking up on Christmas morning and walking into the living room to find, perched on top of the huge pile of presents underneath the tree and keeping perfectly still, a black and white cat. I couldn’t believe my eyes – and I shouldn’t have, because that perfectly still cat was actually a very realistic cat PUPPET. That Christmas went down as the year I discovered the dangerous combination of high-hopes and uncorrected myopia.
When I was sixteen, though, my parents surprised me with two kittens – twin boys from the same litter who snuggled and hugged each other for about 18 hours a day for their entire lives together. I named them Sherman and Chez, and they more than lived up to my expectations of how awesome cats could be. Chez, in particular, was my cat; there was something about our personalities that just clicked, whereas Sherman took more to my mom and my brother. The cats stayed with my mom as I went to college, studied in London, and moved to Los Angeles, but whenever I came home, no matter how long I was gone, Chez, my feline soulmate, would greet me by rolling onto his back so I could give him a good belly-scratchin’ and then would spend the rest of my visit by my side or on my lap.
In November of 2007, at the age of 12, Chez passed away in his sleep. Brian and I had just gotten married that June, and we were still living in Los Angeles at the time. The last time I had seen Chez was the day before our wedding, a day so hectic that I’m not even sure I said good-bye. As any pet owner can understand, my heart was broken. I was devastated. No animal is replaceable, but for me, Sherman and Chez were both the beginning and the end. I knew that by marrying Brian, my first cats would also be my only cats. See, Brian is severely allergic to cat dander. His throat closes up, he wheezes, his eyes swell – it’s definitely not one of those “grin-and-bear-it” mild reactions that some cat owners are able to live with. There’s no getting around it. Chez’s passing carried with it an extreme sense of finality. I just couldn’t ever imagine loving a dog the way I loved that cat, or any cat, so it seemed as though Chez would be the only animal with whom I’d share such a bond.
Then, almost a year later, we visited Brian’s friends Angelica and Marco in San Francisco.
That is when I met Bea Arthur.
I had never met a pug before, and Bea is a pug-supreme. Aloof, full of attitude, stubborn, ever the lady (even with a tooth infection that made her breath smell like sun-baked tuna), and unintentionally comedic, Bea was like a cat in (hilarious) dog’s clothing, and she spent our entire visit curled on my lap and sleeping with me on the couch, her rank tuna breath wafting about. By the time the weekend was over, I was converted. I needed a pug, and I needed one now.
Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, there was a friend of a friend of a friend who needed to find a new home for a pug named Siddhartha…
(To be continued… )