Last night, my wife and I spent 40 minutes walking around Target searching for the perfect dog bed, every once in a while looking up to curse the heavens.
My wife's old dog, a smelly Westie named Harry, finally gave up the ghost last winter, and I swore we'd never have another dog. I missed Harry but was now a free man. No more standing out in the yard in the freezing cold, repeating the phrase "Go potty!" No more showing up for business meetings with so much fur stuck to my suit I looked like a Wookie. No more having our couch smell like creeping skin fungus (if you don't know what that smells like, consider yourself lucky.) My wife, however, was inconsolable.
For a few months, I was able to stand my ground. But this summer, we were driving past a local dog shelter, and my wife said we should stop by and just "look." I told her OK, but I was only interested in getting a dog if they had another older, house-trained West Highland white terrier. I thought I was safe because shelters almost never have Westies.
Tucked in between the cages, though, was a bedraggled, underweight (you guessed it) Westie. I looked up at the sky and mouthed a curse word. I lucked out, though, when the shelter lady gave us some attitude. The second most common thing you'll find at a shelter, besides scraggly growling dogs, is shelter lady attitude. She refused to let us "interact" with this zombie dog until we'd filled out a proper application. I had a day or so to talk my wife out of it.
The very next morning, my wife was out running when she passed a woman out walking (you guessed it) a Westie. When she stopped to pet the dog, she learned that the dog's owners were looking for a new home for the dog, named Sophie. She told me the story the way people do when they're not just telling you a story but laying down an ultimatum.
The owners were happy to have us take Sophie, but agreed that, should there be any problems, they'd take her back in a second. This didn't have to be the end! We could take the dog for a week or so, and then agree she wouldn't work out and then part ways. I could look like a good guy while still being the bad guy.
My wife bought individual little plastic containers of wet food the perfect size for this dog. The label had a picture of a panting, cuddly Westie. I agreed to the dog food, but I refused to buy more than a couple cans at a time. I didn't want to invest too much in this (hopefully) doomed venture.
For a few weeks, everything went well. In a new, unfamiliar house, Sophie was having some serious trouble with the whole house-training concept. We'd take her outside every 20 minutes or so, and she'd stand there with clenched cheeks, unwilling to go, and then, once inside, run inside and unload on the carpet.
This was my out. I put my foot down (Carefully. You needed to watch where you step in our house.) I was not going to spend the next seven or eight years walking through a minefield. The dog had to go.
The next morning we were walking through the local supermarket. At the back of the store, we passed one of those carts piled up with stuff they need to get rid of, tagged with little red clearance tags. In one cart, my wife spied a dog crate for just 10 bucks. It was the perfect size for Sophie. The box even had a picture of (you guessed it) a Westie. I was having heart palpitations as we checked out.
When we got home, as we set up the crate in the living room, Sophie was so eager to get in the crate she squeezed past my shoulder as I was attaching the door so she could settle in to her new home. At this point, I almost ripped my shirt off and cursed the heavens.
So that's why I spent most of last night wandering around trying to find just the right fluffy, comfy bed so Sophie could sleep curled up in comfort with her stuffed animals. I'm not a big believer in fate, or kismet, or divine providence, for that matter. But I'm beginning to believe there is a force out there controlling our lives, guiding our every decision.
And whatever it is, it hates me.
Homemaking is a column about the people, projects and pride that make a house a home. Peter McKay, a Ben Avon resident, is a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators Syndicate. To see past columns, go to www.post-gazette.com. Contact him at www.peter-mckay.com.