I vividly remember the day I went to the animal shelter in the SFV to look at a poodle that a friend of mine said I had to see. I went there absolutely sure that I would not take the dog home--it was during the Aseret Y'mei Tshuvah, the days in between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. I was pretty sure that I did not want to deal with a new pet during the most stressful time of the year for cantors. I often joke that it is our tax time for accountants. Now, as I think about it, we are reviewing the last year and taking an accounting. Hmmm. Anyway, I went into the shelter, and this little white poodle immediately jumped up onto my legs and put his paws in my hand. That was it! Against all rational thinking, Kelley and I brought this little puppy home. It was one of the best decisions of our life--well, maybe besides having Jacob, Justin, and Jared.
We had trouble naming this little guy. We wanted to name him Napoleon because he scared our 50-pound standard poodle into submission as soon as he entered our home. But we did not want to have him called Nappy for short. Then we thought about the character Shorty from de Bronx and, with a little change in the spelling, named him Shortie. Still not very politically correct, but that name seemed to stick.
Why am I writing about him? Because he is sitting in my lap with his snout on my laptop keyboard. He is my "therapy dog" because he senses when I need comfort and is right there for me all of the time. What a blessing. It feels like a gene in these animals is like a missing link that connects them to human beings. It reminds me of when we lived in Temple Hills, MD. In the parking lot behind our little synagogue, Shaare Tikvah, an entire litter of cats were living on the platform on top of the playground sliding board. One little kitten got on the sliding board and slid down, landing with a plop on the ground. Once again, Kelley and I said, "no more cats!' But we went back to the shul a few days later. The same kitten got on the sliding board and slid down in the exact same way. Elliot found his way to enter our hearts and the rest was history.
When I was a child I wanted a dog more than anything in the world. I will never forget the black lab that we got from the ASPCA who I named Colonel. Unfortunately, training him was too much for my parents and they could not tolerate his barking and needs. Why they brought him home in the first place puzzles me to this very day. They were well intentioned but also short-sighted. They took him back and it completely broke my heart. If you ever wonder why I had up to three dogs living in my house, now you know. As soon as I lived on my own, I got a dog from the ASPCA and named her Mushmouse--more on that another time!
As I write this, I am hearing that Lady Gaga had her dogs stolen. That is cosmic and I am going to keep real good tabs on Shortie and Uncle Jasper!