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Wedding Bell Blues

A few weeks passed, weeks during which we brought Rex over to Desiree’s Doggie Daycare almost every day, partly because both Ted and I had started working full-time, but mostly because Rex was having so much fun. He’d strain on the leash to get there, then leap right into Hildy’s arms. I’d leave to the sounds of gates crashing, Rex a-woo-woo-wooing, and Desiree laughing one of her booming laughs. It was a nice way to start the day, and at the end, Rex would come home tired and satiated, his fur smelling of incense and perfume, and big telltale Slut kiss-marks all across his head. “Who’s been kissing you?” I would say happily, and Rex would thump his tail, and Desiree would call us in the evenings to leave detailed messages on our answering machine: “He and Hildy played for four hours straight and then they both took a nap with their heads on my lap, all of us curled up together on the couch.” And picturing this, picturing all the love he got from both Desiree and Hildy, made me think maybe Rex should get married.

Friends, in those days, who called me in the hopes that I might describe my Scaasi wedding dress for them got this instead: “Rex is in love! And he comes home so spent and satiated, you’d think he was having sex! If he was a human child, you’d better believe I’d be rifling through his drawer for condoms. But he’s fixed so—thank God—we won’t have to worry about having puppies any time soon.”

“Are you and Ted going to have children?” my friends would say.

“I love that he has this secret life,” I would answer. “It’s like he’s going off daily to an opium den!”

“Where are you going for your honeymoon?”
“Oh, we haven’t thought that far ahead. But I’m thinking of getting another dog, a live-in girlfriend for Rex.”

“Are you out of your mind?” Ted said.

“But Rex is so happy when he’s in love.”

“Look,” Ted said. “We are in no position financially to get a second dog, our apartment is too small, we’re getting married in three weeks and every other day you threaten to call off the wedding.”

“But look at him.”

Rex was standing, as he did every night now, with his paws on windowsill, gazing out to the street, facing the direction of Desiree’s apartment. His nose twitched in that nervous way.

“I think he just needs to take a dump,” Ted said.

“He’s in love!” I insisted. “Desiree says he won’t eat his food anymore unless Hildy is fed first.”

But love, as we know, has its downswings. First, Rex started to act out at daycare. One day in April, Desiree told me that he had climbed onto her kitchen counter, pulled a bag of kibble out of the cabinet and dragged it to the kitchen floor. “I came home to find all the dogs feasting from it,” Desiree said, “tearing at the bag like a feeding frenzy, like it was a gazelle they had felled.” The next week, she claimed that Rex had pulled her venetian blinds clear out of the window. “He didn’t just pull them down,” she said. “He pulled them out, screws and all.”

“How can you be certain it was him?” I said.

“Oh, there were paw prints,” she said. “On my ceiling, in fact.”

“We’ll pay for the blinds, of course,” I said.

“Oh, I’m not worried about that, darling. I just want to be able to leave my apartment as is and be able to come back and have it as is.”

When I told Ted the story, it was hard not to laugh. “He’s showing off for Hildy,” I said. “Don’t you think? Maybe it was too sunny and he didn’t want Hildy to strain her eyes. Maybe he wanted some privacy while he and Hildy made out.”

“This isn’t funny,” Ted said. Nothing, I mean nothing, is funny to a pre-wedding groom.

Ted, Mr. Responsible, gave Desiree an extra $50 that week when he wrote the check out. I, Ms. Romantic, decided to have a word with Rex.

“Don’t try so hard,” I whispered that night as I scratched his belly. “Girls don’t like it when you’re too intense.”

Rex had his legs splayed, his eyes rolled back into his head and his tongue lolling out, like a satiated man at a harem. I sniffed his fur. “Have you been smoking opium?” I said.

He was too tired to even thump his tail.

Lee Harrington is the author of the best-selling memoir, Rex and the City: A Woman, a Man, and a Dysfunctional Dog (Random House, 2006), and of the forthcoming novel, Nothing Keeps a Frenchman from His Lunch. emharrington.com

Illustration by Susan Synarski

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