I’m on one end of the couch, the usual side (the one facing the window where I can stretch my legs out and watch TV if I turn my head to the right) and my Jack Russell, Julius, is on the other. As always, he is sleeping. Paws crossed.
Before leaving, I cover the couch with a waterproof blanket that has 344 (mostly positive) reviews on Amazon from other (mostly sane) pet owners. Although Julius now wears a diaper, he will sometimes Houdini/wriggle himself out of it, so the blanket is more of a safeguard. Incontinence is just one of his Cushing’s Disease symptoms. This weekend, a Lap of Love veterinarian will visit our home, and our fifteen years together will end.
We’ve owned two couches. The first was from Astoria, Queens, where we lived from 1998–2006. It was one of the first pieces of grown-up furniture my husband Abe and I purchased after college. A sectional, like our current one, but with a bed tucked inside for houseguests. As newlyweds, Abe would pick up Greek food (spanikopita and lemon potatoes) on the walk back from the N/W Train, and we’d spread out on our couch. Eating carefully, while envisioning our future. “We need a dog,” Abe announced. I told him it would be too much work, that we were never around enough. “You’ll like having a dog around,” he insisted, “for when you’re feeling depressed.”
He was right. Back then I was always depressed. I didn’t know how to manage my emotions, so I soothed them with food. But I wasn’t a dog person. I liked dogs, I just didn’t love them. And I wasn’t about to trust the opinion of a person who had grown up with two basset hounds. Abe obviously had a tolerance for slobbering/snoring/dog stuff.
“I’ll get a dog,” I told him, “if it’s small. That way we’re not trapped in Queens and can bring it into the city with us. And it has to be cute, like really cute. It has to want to cuddle all the time. But not like an annoying lap dog with no personality.” I realized I was the one who sounded annoying. Maybe this dog would be impossible to find, and that would deter him. “And I want it to always look like a puppy. Not like, just a small dog that looks like a puppy from far away, but one that grows into an adult with perpetual puppy face.”
Abe agreed, but warned me about the latter: “Dogs grow old. They don’t stay babies.”
Somehow (maybe through the power of manifestation, which nobody believed in back then), I got exactly what I ordered. At 8-weeks-old, Julius resembled a miniature panda. Today the black fur around his eyes is white, but strangers still assume he’s a puppy. He never exceeded 12.5 lbs and we’re able to bring him everywhere, in a bag or tucked underneath Abe’s hoodie.
At the end of 2006, we all moved to LA. The couch with the bed, too. Abe and I assumed we’d have family visitors sleeping on it because we assumed we’d have children for them to visit. But that didn’t happen.
The more we accepted infertility, the more important Julius became. Despite everything we learned from training school, obedience/agility class, and Cesar Millan, we began to spoil him. He became needy of our constant love and attention. But I didn’t mind the commitment. He buoyed me through depression, the loss of my father, and my eating disorder recovery.
Five years ago, it was time to buy a new couch. I picked a grey fabric, so Julius’ white fur would blend into it, eliminating a daily vacuum chore. No mattress inside. Turns out we never needed that extra bed. Today I’m researching new ones (another sectional of course) but something I would have never considered before, for fear of dog drool/nails/pee. Leather, perhaps. But I don’t know. I’m not sure what a future will look like without my baby.