One of Those Women
I never thought I would become one of those women. You know the kind. The women who carry little dogs in their purses everywhere, dress them up in clothes, and wheel them around in strollers. Don’t they look silly? It’s so easy to judge, isn’t it?
Then I experienced a traumatic loss in my life. The kind that makes you re-evaluate why you even exist. Why you’re even still breathing.
One of my best friends kept recommending that I get a dog, but I kept pushing back. I was fine with my cat. Why would I want the stress of having a dog? The last dog I had was a nightmare. So much so, that after five years, I couldn’t take it anymore and had to find him a new home. He got a wonderful home, by the way.
I finally relented and started looking for a dog. I knew that it would have to be small, because I would want one as a companion. I’d never liked Chihuahuas before, but one day, I saw a puppy that took my breath away. She was the cutest puppy I’d ever seen.
The day I got her, I put her in her new carrier. She sat there and stared at me for the longest time, like she was accessing me. She was so tiny! I grabbed my camera & quickly took a picture because I knew no one would believe me when I told them about this moment later.
I named her Kiwi. And that tiny puppy who weighed about a pound completely changed my life.
She helped pull me out of the deep sadness that ran like a current just below the public veneer of being a bubbly, happy person. Every day, I woke up and looked forward to seeing her. Instead of wishing I was no more, she gave me someone to care for, as she in turn cared for me. She made me laugh every single day. Kiwi had such attitude. She was so self-confident.
One day, I went to a dog expo. As I walked around the booths brimming with dog products and service offerings, I spied a cute three tiered tropical themed dress. It was so adorable, but I figured Kiwi was a dog and wouldn’t like wearing clothes. Plus, it would be ridiculous. I’d look like one of those women. Yet, I bought that dress anyway, fully expecting Kiwi to try to take it off. To my surprise, Kiwi didn’t mind me putting the dress on her. In fact, after it was on, she flounced around the room. It was stinking cute and absolutely adorable. After that, I slowly added more cute little dresses to her “wardrobe”. Kiwi didn’t mind wearing them. I only put them on her when we were out in public.
Kiwi, naturally, got attention wherever we went. She preened under the compliments and admiration of people. If I walked with her wearing one of her dresses, people would point and exclaim with delight. She stopped traffic a time or two.
I took pictures of her all of the time. I wanted to preserve every memory of her. One day I mentioned to a friend that Kiwi seemed to pose for pictures. My friend thought that was ridiculous until she later looked at some pictures of her. She finally admitted that I was right.
I took Kiwi to a pet supply company’s retail store one day. The employees were so taken with her that someone at the corporate office came in and asked if I would let them use Kiwi to model a tee shirt for their catalogue. That photo ran in their catalogue for 2 years. We ended up doing doggie fashion shows together, with me holding Kiwi’s leash as she strutted down runways with her nose high in the air.
Kiwi traveled with me everywhere, from one end of the country to the other. She never made a nuisance of herself and many times, people didn’t even know she was in my bag. She’d sit quietly in her purse at airports and watch people walk by. Once a woman asked if I’d drugged Kiwi to behave that well! We were sitting in the Oakland airport one day waiting for our flight, when the boarding flight crew saw us. One of the flight attendants asked if they could visit with Kiwi after we landed. After we landed and the flight deplaned, the crew crowded around Kiwi. One flight attended presented Kiwi a pair of wings pin. The captain of the plane even wanted Kiwi to sit in the cockpit.
When Kiwi and I went to a local yacht show, we were invited onto a yacht because of Kiwi. Being with her was like being with a celebrity. Going through security at airports was easier because of Kiwi. I’d have to take Kiwi out of her purse to go through. When the stern TSA workers saw her, they would melt and start smiling. She just had that affect on people.
Kiwi met a couple of celebrities (Susan Lucci & Bobbi Zeman from General Hospital) and many, many authors. I took her with me to three book conventions. Needless to say, Kiwi was a hit. She even helped me judge a male cover model contest.
After a while, carrying Kiwi in her purse with all her paraphernalia got heavy, so I finally relented and bought a stroller. I’d resisted getting one for years because I was concerned about looking ridiculous. After I got it and saw how much Kiwi loved it, I felt so guilty for being more concerned about how I’d look. So, yes, I ended up being one of those women with the dog in the stroller.
We had so many amazing adventures, Kiwi and I. We got to do things that I probably would not have done without her. She enriched my life and brought me so much joy. I was so proud that this incredible dog was mine, that out of all of the people in the world I got to be her “mommy”.
Years went by. Last December, a woman mocked me as I carefully wrapped Kiwi in her little brown coat and lowered her into her stroller. Kiwi, by now, was getting old and got cold very easily. I stood silently as I looked at the woman, who had a smirk on her face. I thought how ridiculous I did look to her, to others, but she truly didn’t know what I’d gone through; how far I had traveled in my grief in large part because of the little dog now nestled in her stroller. I decided not to say anything. Instead, I prayed that she never found herself one day in my shoes. Never experienced that kind of life pain.
A couple of weeks later, it was time to say goodbye to Kiwi. I held her in my arms and thanked her for all the love and adventures. I thanked for changing my life. I thanked her for what she meant to me.
I had her buried in my backyard because I couldn’t bear not even having her body nearby. Several times a day, I’d find myself standing by the window looking at her grave. I missed her dearly, but more than missing her, I was grateful for the years I had her and that made me smile. People assumed that I would be devastated, but surprisingly I wasn’t. It was her time. We all get a limited amount of time. She was old and her health was failing her. She was not suffering any longer. I loved her enough to let her go.
Three months later, I got another Chihuahua puppy. While she looks similar to Kiwi, her personality is different. As my friend who recommended that I get a dog in the first place said, “Every dog brings different things to the table.” And she does. She, too, fills my life with joy. And, yes, she now wears Kiwi’s old dresses. I carry her around in a purse and push her around in a stroller. The difference is that now I don’t care if people laugh at me or what they think. I’m happy and so is my dog. So, yes, I AM one of those women and unapologetically so.