Meatball is 3

July 21, 2010 at 9:00 am 2 comments

Dear Charlie Bagel,

Today, you are 36 months old (I know, right? When will this trend end?) At least, that’s how long you’ve been on this planet. In dog time, you’re 252 months old. Which means… 21! Woo hoo! Time to party!

In your case, a party would mean a cool spot on the floor where you’re surrounded by bacon and absolute silence. Which means, naturally, that you now take after me in all respects.

Reasons why you’re the best dog ever

– You don’t chew my stuff

– You don’t bark ever

– You growl when you think I’m in trouble

– But you’re nice to delivery men

– Your favorite time of day is our couch cuddle/TV time which I have indulged even though it means my white couch is now gray and covered in your hair.

On our very first day together, the nice lady from the animal shelter left and we just stared at each other. If I had to describe my feelings for that day, the words “abject terror” immediately spring to mind. I had never had a dog before. I knew nothing about anything. And I certainly knew next to nothing about you, 1 year Old Male Dog With a Past. You laid on the floor in the living room, behind the couch, and looked like you’d just been waiting to get to that spot for the longest time, so tired, so glad I finally got here, must rest now, we talk later, lady. I gulped down a glass of water and fought down waves of panic.

Our first months together were punctuated mostly by screams. I would scream, you would cower. Examples of these moments include, “My bra!” and “EMO PEEP!” So maybe I should amend it to say “You don’t chew my stuff… anymore.” Two incidents and you were off Judi-scented stuff forever. Thank God. (Bras are expensive, yo.)

On the sidewalk, you pulled against me, straining to get to the nearest trees, grass, anything. But Cesar (sweet, beautiful Cesar) had told me to keep you at my side so that’s what I did. I pulled and tugged and dug in my heels against all 50 pounds of you. It took almost eight months (three long walks a day, for eight full months- I was out of work, remember?) for you to get the picture, for you to chill the hell out and walk calmly at my side like you have all the time in the world. I have the ghosts of calluses on my hands to prove it. I consider the fact that you’re leash-trained to be my only significant accomplishment in the world of dog training. The rest of it was easy.

Sometimes you befuddle me. You’re not crazy about eating for example (unheard of in my family). You regard your food bowl grudgingly, a necessary evil. I’ve heard it’s common with dogs who lived in hoarding situations and then shelters. You are not an aggressive guy- if another dog challenged you for your food in that first miserable year, I can just see you shuffling off to sit in a crowded, dusty corner, hungry and letting out muffled sighs.

I don’t like thinking about that year, that Kentucky Year. Sometimes I have to though, like when you felt cornered at the groomer’s and lashed out. Or when we walk under the El and a train whooshes overhead and you become a dead weight of fear, trying to burrow into the sidewalk. You hate loud noises. You are not a fan of 4th of July or thunderstorms or backfiring cars or joggers who creep up on you on the sidewalk. For our first year together, you winced whenever I raised my hand above my head.

Things we call you

– Charlie

– Shmooshy

– Monkey

– Bagel

– The Bagel

– Charles/Marshmallow (that’s all Justin)

– Buddy

– Cinni Paws (that’s all Debi)

– Seriously, it’s a miracle you actually respond to Charlie.

Kids love you. (“Your dog is funny! Let’s call him Meatball! Bye, Meatball, we love you!”) Baby boys especially, I don’t know what it is. They reach out for you when we walk by. Sometimes, they ask for a pet and you sit obligingly while they reach their chubby arms around your neck for a squeeze. My nephew Aidan is, possibly, your biggest fan. He’s been in love with you since the moment he laid eyes on you. Might have something to do with how close you are in age.

You respond to the people who love you accordingly. When you see me at the end of the day, you wag your tail, yawn and lay down immediately (THAT WAS EXHAUSTING). When you see Liz, with all of her energy and high-pitched “Hiiiii”s, you are a spastic mess in response. To the point where her voice on the phone sends you right to the window, searching for her (WHERE’S LIZ? MUST FIND LIZ). You immediately try to rest your head on Adam’s lap, even if he’s standing and said lap has disappeared. With my mother, you are absolute mush, almost cat-like, like you want to just melt into her legs. But I think you’re closest to my dad in spirit. Honestly, the two of you can run off together to nap and watch golf and poop and I think you’d both be thrilled (BALD MAN WILL WALK ME NOW YES?).

Things You Love

– Car rides

– Car rides

– Hot dogs

– Car rides

– Liz

– Parents’ houses (mine, Adam’s)

The best day of your life? That’s easy. When you found that hot dog on the street. I reached to take it out of your mouth and you gobbled it down like “THIS IS WHY I WAS BORN. TO EAT THIS HOT DOG. I WILL DO WHATEVER I HAVE TO IT’S GONE IT’S DONE I ATE IT.” We’ll have hot dogs for dinner tonight, buddy, I promise. And maybe I’ll buy you a Cubs hat.

Oh, you’re a Cubs dog for sure. I have no interest in them but Charlie Bagel and the Chicago Cubs are intricately linked in my mind. I know this because two years ago, the day before Abject Terror Day, I was walking down the street by my apartment, thinking about the decision I’d just made. I’d walked into a shelter, picked you out and they had just told me they were going to bring you home the next day. I walked down the street and couldn’t breath. What did I do? What if you were a monster? What if you chewed all my stuff? What if you barked all night long? What if you tried to eat my niece and nephew at Christmas? What was I doing?

I took a deep breath, crossed my fingers, shut my eyes, right there on the street, and asked for a sign. Am I doing the right thing? Should I get this dog?

I opened my eyes and saw two Cubs fans walking ahead of me. They were wearing matching Cubs shirts. And both of them said, “You gotta believe.”

I’m so glad I was paying attention.

Happy birthday, buddy. Hope you’re having good dreams right now, curled up in your bed right under the air conditioner. I’ll see you when I get home.



Want to wish Charlie a happy birthday? Donate to Chicago Canine Rescue.


Entry filed under: Love Ya.

Which month will I look the prettiest? One step closer…

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Habby  |  July 21, 2010 at 10:28 am

    Bagel, A Haiku

    Furball fuzzy-face
    From an inauspicious start
    Now, belov’d of Judi.

  • 2. Sue Voigts  |  July 22, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    You made me cry reading this. I agree that Charlie is the best and you did good getting him.
    Love Sue

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About This Lady

I am a writer who has lived in DC, Los Angeles and Chicago. In the morning, I write novels. During the day, I write ads, brochures, websites and blogs. At night, I don't do any writing because that's too much writing.

Trying to be Auntie Mame but right now I feel more like Liz Lemon in execution. It's a process, people.

I have a food/fiction blog called Some Kitchen Stories.


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