16 Pounds of Fury and Love

Convincing my partner to adopt a dog took years.
By Melissa DuQuette, October 2020
Lounging Dog

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.

 

 

 

 

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Melissa DuQuette is a former Peace Corps volunteer and English teacher. She uses her varied personal, professional and spiritual experiences to inform her writing. She is the author of BetterBertie.com, which focuses on mental health and building positive relationships.

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