Because I recently told this story to an email friend, and it still makes me laugh, I’m telling it. Here, now, live, up close, personal.
When my mom and I made the mysterious trek up to Michigan from Florida when I was 5 or 6, we came with animals. We always come with animals. If memory serves me (and I’m sure it doesn’t), we’d lived in a variety of smallish apartments/duplexes while in Florida, none of which lent much hospitality for pets other than the smallest of the smalls – your rodents, your birds, your not really a pet because they just happened to be in the neighborhood and sometimes climbed down your arm while you were turning on a lamp lizards, your freakishly large uninvited houseguest spiders. And the occasional possum that your mom had to kill because “it might have tried to eat you.” We also at one point had a roommate whose pregnant cat had kittens, most of which were stillborn, some of which may have been eaten by the mama cat, which (with good reason) probably turned me off cats for good.
So. We had Birdie, and we had Rodie. Birdie was your average bluey-greeny parakeet. He was a bird. Rodie was your average fluffball of hamster. He was a rodent. I named them both. I was, and remain, a pantheon of imaginative naming (see also: both Mister AND Missus Kitty, Mouse the grey cat, Gingerbread the ginger cat, and Patch the patchworked cat. BEHOLD! I would like to add for the record that I later had a cat named Eidolon, so suck on that [and as an aside, Mr. Kitty's given names were Darkwing Duck and Velveeta. Kitty was just his surname. Double suck on that!])
Birdie and Rodie were awesome. I guess. I mean, I was young. And hamsters are pretty… hamster-y? Birdie was kind of an asshole, but I did throw a funeral for him which shows you that I am a very forgiving person, if you are a bird who has pecked me once a day for 1825 straight days.
But what I really wanted was a dog. A big, dumb, dopey dog.
I happened to be in a little bit of luck. The family that lived next door to us bred and raised Basset Hounds. Bassets are patently adorable, if you didn’t know – as well as big, and dumb, and dopey – and luck would have it, they distinctly fall on the dog spectrum of the animal kingdom. Their girl dog had a litter of pups, which they named Larry, Darryl and Darryl, and I fell in love with one of the Darryls. I spent many a day over there, loving on the puppies, convincing Darryl to fall in love with me, which isn’t hard to do with a puppy. They come with a pre-installed “fall in love with kids who pet you” gene. I was convinced he would be mine.
The roadblock was my grandma, or more specifically, my grandma’s dog. Ruby. A schipperke. My least favorite kind of dog ever. Ruby was an aging fluffy blackish gremliny creature, with a biting voice that never ceased to announce an enemy, family member, friend, mailman, leaf blowing by, cloud passing over, or anything ever that happened within the tri-state area. Babci insisted that Ruby was an “only” dog, that I couldn’t add another to the mix, and that a young whippersnapper of a puppy would be the worst possible candidate anyway. I insisted that Ruby was probably such a bitch because she didn’t have any friends and needed one, especially a puppy who would function as a canine Fountain of Youth (Note: I probably did not use that exact phrasing). That didn’t work. Darryl was out of the equation.
[I googled "scary schipperkes" and "schipperkes are not cute" for illustrative purposes, but I came up with nothing. Logic tells me that schipperkes killed all people publicly and vocally opposed to them - except me. Luckily, I am an artist, so I created the following image for you, so you really get an idea of how horrible they are.]
But. There’s always a but.
My grandma finally conceded that I could get a dog – if the dog came from the President. Directly from the White House.
It was just my luck that Millie, the First Dog of the United States, or FDOTUS, had puppies around that time. I saw no foreseeable reason that the President would not give me one of the puppies. I was a girl, a citizen of the United States, and I wanted – nay, needed a dog. Mr. George Herbert Walker Bush was the President of those same United States, happened to have some extra dogs lying around the place, and as President, it was his duty, nay, honor, to fulfill all the wants, needs, and desires of his constituents, especially eight-year-old girls.
So I transcribed a letter to an adult person, or I wrote it in my own childish and likely rainbow-hued script, imploring the POTUS to give me one of those damn puppies (note: probably paraphrased). We mailed it off, probably to the snickering of my family, who saw the hopeful gleam in my eyes and knew it was baseless. I waited. And waited. And waited. Every day I woke up with barely diminished hope that the mailman would proudly deliver a puppy and all its accoutrements, as well as some seed money to keep that puppy in a lifestyle befitting its presidential heritage.
Finally, a letter (and not a puppy-shaped letter, at that) came from the White House. “Dear Rebecca,” it read, “Thank you for your letter. Blah blah blah. Blah blah more blah. Unfortunately all the puppies are already in new homes. Thank you again, sincerely, Barbara Bush.”
What a load of crap. Fuming, I thought “well maybe you’d still have a puppy to give to me if you hadn’t waited roughly eight hundred thousand years to respond to my perfectly reasonable plea for one.” On top of that, I had to settle for a form letter from the FLOTUS instead of the – ahem – venerable President? Was the President too good to talk to me about puppies? Nothing was adding up here. Millie had six puppies – did six other precocious little assholes out of the whole US of A write to that dude before I did? Did I drop the ball? What the what? What good was this “President” guy, anyway, if he can’t give a girl a puppy?
I got over it – sort of, if “holding onto a grudge for the past 22 years” is equal to or greater than “getting over it.” Within two years, we’d moved out of my grandma’s house and got our own dog, Miss Raisin Anne (finally, some creativity in my naming!) and a few years later added Miss Molly Jane.
Years later, through the magic and wonder of the Internet, I found out who got my Presidential puppy: George W. Bush. Seriously? SERIOUSLY? He was the President’s son, had basically a whole nation of dogs at his disposal and he had to take a dog that was obviously cosmically intended for a poor little girl in Detroit? Real big of you.
Thanks a lot. That’s why I didn’t vote for you in 2000, or 2004. Also, I didn’t vote for you because I’m diametrically opposed to most of your political platform. But, a little bit of it is the puppy fiasco.
Moral of the story: don’t think GWB won’t steal your dog. He will. Also, get your kids dogs. Dogs are great. Also, don’t expect the President to get you a dog.