When I was a baby, my family had a cat named Bosie who I would poke and jab until he swatted me away or nipped at me until I cried.
When I grew older, I had a fish named Frederick who I didn’t feed because I thought his food looked gross. Once Frederick died, there was Boohbah, a Japanese fighting fish,who died because he sat in the corner of my room where I forgot he existed. Then there came 10 more clear tetra fish that I fed food coloring so they would turn different colors. They all died too.
For these reasons, among a multitude of others, I was never allowed to own a dog while I was growing up. Despite all the begging that persisted my entire childhood, my parents were adamant about never getting me a dog. Their common response was somewhere along the lines of, “If you can’t even remember to feed yourself, how can we trust you to remember to feed a dog?” Those points were always hard to refute.
Luckily, my friend Jasmine didn’t know any of this when I asked if I could borrow her dog for a day last weekend.
I decided I needed to spend a day with a dog after I heard my roommate Stefanie FaceTime with hers the other day. After hearing her gush over how pretty her dog looked and how much she missed her and how she just wanted to smush her little cheeks, among a whole cacophony of goo-ing and ga-ing, I decided that I just didn’t get it.
Yes, maybe Stefanie was being a little extreme, but I couldn’t fathom how a person could possibly love a hairy, drooling, sometimes smelly, pooping machine – that isn’t even human – so unconditionally that it would warrant the effort of a FaceTime.
Maybe I was just heartless, I thought. Maybe I wasn’t capable of such emotion. What was wrong with me? Did something go terribly wrong in my childhood? After this weekend, I found the answer to all of these questions: I just hadn’t met Frankie yet.
Spending a day with Frankie the pug was nothing short of a joy. He’s just this silly-looking, rambunctious and helpless little pup whose only objective in life is to trot along Commonwealth Avenue and be cute. I brought him to Amory Park in Brookline where we played with sticks and leaves and chased each other around until I – I mean Frankie – got too tired to play anymore. I protected the 10-pound pup when a 200-pound Newfoundland rolled up for a challenge, fed him treats when he was good and carried him home when his little legs were too tired to continue. I got a day to just pretend like I was another dog owner in Boston, taking her pup out to play on a beautiful fall day. And all of a sudden, this whole unconditional love for a dog thing started making sense.
There’s something about a pup in public that just breaks down all social barriers. As I was parading Frankie down Commonwealth Avenue and Newbury Street with my friend on Sunday, I watched people guffaw at him from afar and run up to him squealing over how cute he was. Apparently, when there’s a puppy as cute as Frankie involved, there’s no need for an invitation or sign of approval for a complete stranger to squeeze and nuzzle it like it’s their own.
Frankie, whose smashed face and beady eyes are equally as weird as they are endearing, also had this sense of entitlement where he thought everything he did was okay. And for whatever reason, he was right. It was okay when he stopped our walk every few minutes just to sniff out places to pee – and then not pee. It was okay when he ran on top of my face to grab a stick he could have easily walked around me to get. And it was also okay when he accidentally bit my arm when he meant to nibble on my $60 sweater.
It amazes me how a dog can become so joyfully embedded in someone’s life. Had my brother and I had a dog when we were younger, maybe we would have spent less time fighting with each other and a lot more time distracted with rubbing our doggy’s belly. (Hope you’re reading this, Mom and Dad).
I’m jealous that some people get to experience the joy I did with Frankie for a day, every day of their lives. Maybe I should still be mad that my parents deprived me of a dog while I was growing up. Or maybe, I should just be mad that I’m not a dog myself.
When I asked Frankie the pug what it was like to be a dog, he responded with a flippant “hugahgudahguh,” and carried on with his little legs to go and do happy little dog things.