Convincing my partner to adopt a dog took years.
From a very young age, I had known I wanted to join the Peace Corps, and thankfully, my partner was supportive. Three years into our relationship, I was accepted and left for Mongolia. I joked that when I came back, as soon as I got off the plane, we’d take a taxi directly to the animal shelter. Halfway through my two years in Mongolia, he proposed, and I began planning our wedding. As it turns out, wedding planning is difficult, which put my plans for a dog on hold.
Once the seed for a dog has been planted, it grows until the desire is unbearable. I found myself wandering through Central Park pointing out every single—and I mean every single—person with a dog, asking, “Why does she get a dog and I don’t?” This started as a joke, but after our wedding, it turned into a serious question. The question became harder and harder for him to answer.
At the time, I was teaching, and when New York City schools declared a rare snow day that year, it felt like a gift. A snowy NYC is like no other place in the world. Walking through the city during a huge snowstorm is magical; the whole city goes on hold. Central Park muffles the noise of traffic and people, and everything is quiet. During snowstorms, my husband and I had a tradition of taking advantage of the city in this state. Lucky for him, no dogs were out. Lucky for me, I had Instagram. My Instagram was dedicated to dogs, hiking and tattoos, but primarily, dogs.
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As we sat in a café watching the snow fall, he read and, even though I’m an avid reader, I scrolled through Instagram, fawning over the mutts. I worked myself into such an inconsolable state that I began to cry out of frustration, and at the sheer adorableness of dogs. I wish I could say I’m joking, but no. The memory is seared into my brain.
The next day, I returned to work. During my walk home, I called my husband. Often, I’d get off the subway a stop early so I could walk by the school in East Harlem that had chickens in a fenced-in yard. If I couldn’t have a dog, I could at least look at chickens. The logic isn’t sound, but I was desperate. I was in the process of making my daily pitch for a dog when he said, “Okay, we can get a dog.” I practically ran home. We made the appointment to adopt and three days later, we had Bertie—or Bertram, when he’s naughty.
Bertie is 16 pounds of fury and love. A mess of a Chihuahua mix, he’s a cocktail of neuroticism and fearlessness. Although my husband fought the responsibility of a dog for a long time, the day we picked up Bertie, he was all in. When Bertie was too tired to walk up the stairs to our fifth-floor walkup, my husband would carry him.
Bertie is by no means an easy dog, but he is our dog. He chose us and we chose him. We are a neurotic-fearless family.