This little fuzzball turned seventeen today. Seventeen. It feels weird to write it, or say it or even think it. My dog is seventeen years old.
I bought Emma on a whim when I was 22 years old. I was living in Cocoa, Florida in a tiny little apartment no more than 530 square feet. I was going to school and working in Orlando, so my daily commute was an hour each way. I wasn’t home often. I had NO money and my parents were subsidizing a portion of my rent each month. I was a young, single girl trying to make it in the big, wide world with only a papasan chair in the living room and no spending money to speak of.
I had no business buying a puppy.
So of course, being of limited means and even limited-er brains, I frequented the mall. Surrounding myself with new-clothes temptation and Orange Julius was my way of testing my strength. It was my way of making my iron will stronger while honing my window shopping skills.
I usually parked at Sears because the closest parking spots were always available. Entering the mall through Sears meant I passed by Petland, the infamous animal retail chain found in suburban shopping centers nationwide. Petland was known as being an over-priced puppy mill, cranking out puppies from over-worked bitches like a printing press spits out papers. Get your puppy! Hot off the press!
On this particular day my boyfriend and I decided to stop in Petland for a quick gander. It was of no consequence that one month prior I sold my 10-month old Bichon Frise puppy to a family who had more time and patience to raise her and I was in puppy withdrawal. I was certain that seeing twelve bouncing, yipping puppies in glass-front cages would have no effect on my heart strings. Definitely not. I had an iron will, remember?
One hour later I walked out with Emma. And a brand new Petland credit card with the introductory rate of only 28 percent. My boyfriend lugged her shiny new crate that I also charged to my account. It was filled with puppy food and shot records and toys for my new girl. I also had a bona fide certificate proving that Emma is a mutt, er, mixed breed. Half Bichon, half poodle. Or a poochon as I like to refer to her.
She was perfect. Weighing only three pounds, she fit in the palm of my hand. I was instantly in love. I don’t remember the car ride back to my tiny apartment. I don’t remember leaving my apartment and heading to my parent’s condo to show them my new puppy. I was in puppy love and I couldn’t take my eyes off my little girl. I barely remember my mom being mad at me for being so irresponsible. You’re never home! When are you going to walk her? How are you going to afford her vet bills? How did you even afford to buy her?
I only said, “Isn’t she the most precious thing you’ve ever seen?”
Seventeen years later even my mom agrees that my impulse buy was the best purchase I’ve ever made. Emma is an indelible part of our family, my heart and my life. She’s been my most constant and faithful companion my entire adult life. She’s seen me through job changes, moves, husbands and kids, breakups and divorce. And she’s greeted me every day with a wag of her tail.
Seventeen years. Wow. Emma is such a blessing.
Happy birthday, old girl.