Some Narrative Journalism…obviously about Luka

February 18, 2010 at 5:35 am (Uncategorized)

“We’re just going to look…” I said as we walked to the car.

It was one of those freezing fall days, where you could of sworn it was winter. The red and orange leaves drowned my car and littered the grass – Halloween decorations flew in the wind.

It was the first day I had to use the seat warmers since last March, and it was the first day I’d worn gloves. The night before, a Friday night, had been so cold that we’d forgone going out. Instead, we made some popcorn, and rented Marley & Me.

That’s where this fiasco all began.

Marley & Me was a book before it was a movie, and I had read it a year prior. I remembered thinking how the menacing yellow lab, Marley, could have been a clone of my yellow lab. I also remembered how terrible of a puppy Shana was, and how now at 7 years-old she had only just calmed down. If anything, this movie made me glad I was 196 miles away from home, and away from the zoo that is my house.

This movie did the opposite, however, for my boyfriend Carl.

The entire time after the movie all I heard about was how Carl needed a “pal.” Not a dog, but a “pal.” A couple of month’s prior I had talked him into adopting a kitten by observing, or rather making up, how lonely his first cat was. I convinced him Layla needed a friend, and so a few days later we brought home Tessie. The fact that I had won in the kitten battle seemed to push Carl further into the idea of adopting his “pal.”

I was happy with the two cats, but I entertained the idea.  I even threw in “a puppy would be fun,” to back up my falsities.

That’s how we ended up driving to Menands, N.Y. on that fall day. We traveled the 30 minutes from Clifton Park, N.Y. to Menands, N.Y. and arrived at the Mohawk Humane Society, the same place both Tessie and Layla had been adopted. We walked through the cat section, and while I held back every urge to adopt them all, Carl pushed open the door with the giant paw prints on it.

The overwhelming smell of wet dog hit me, and the yelping pierced my ears. Immediately I felt terrible for these canine leftovers.

We began walking from cage to cage, examining the stats on each dog like we were purchasing a car. Some dogs weren’t good with cats, some dogs weren’t meant for apartments, and some dogs just weren’t friendly. Seeing all the cages and the anxious look on the dogs’ faces, I felt they needed a “pal” too.

We walked through the dog room for what felt like hours. We had a few dogs that seemed friendly enough, but no one seemed to click with us. Feeling defeated, We walked to the last cage.

We looked inside at the tiny black puppy, seeing his big curly ears before we noticed anything else. He was a lab mix, and he had just gotten to the shelter a few days before we had. He had literally only been on the adoption floor for two minutes.

He cowered in the corner with every strange bark he heard. He didn’t look like he belonged there. He looked like he had been transplanted from his home by accident, and he wasn’t sure how to get back.

He was perfect.

We took him out to play in the exercise pen to see if he would open up to us – he did. He ran circles around us, chased balls, licked our faces, and got dirt everywhere.  Carl and I discussed how we’d take care of him, if he’d fit in our schedules, in his apartment, in our lives. We decided that we couldn’t make the decision in front of him. We knew we couldn’t be honest in front of a face like that.

We took a left out of the shelters parking lot, and found a Dunkin’ Donuts. I suggested that we get some coffee and discuss our options. Carl agreed, and we pulled into the coffee shop.

I ordered a cinnamon coffee, and Carl ordered a hot chocolate. We discussed our options with the man who took our order. He reaffirmed our beliefs. “Adopt the pup. Just do it. Ya’ll gonna love him,” he said, and handed over our order.

Carl and I sat down at the sticky, wobbling table, sipping our drinks.

“Lets just adopt him. We’ll make it work. We can’t leave him there,” I said.

Carl nodded, and with that we both threw out our full cups and raced to the car.

Flying into the parking lot of the shelter, I prayed that no one had scooped him up. They hadn’t. Within 20 minutes we had filled out the paperwork, paid the $250, and scheduled when we’d pick him up.

Three days later, with a green leash and collar in hand, I walked in to pick up our puppy. Luka, a name Carl picked out, happily hopped into my car, rested his head on the center console, and looked up at me as I drove him up the Northway back home.

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