Posts Tagged 'Teddy'

Joint Custody Dog

I didn’t want a dog.

In 1998 I was a single mother of three young children (ages 4, 7 and 9), trying to find my emotional and financial footing following an explosive divorce. I had just started a new job as a real estate agent, and was trying to juggle being on call 24/7 to my clients with the demands of motherhood. Space and privacy were at a premium in our 1,000 s.f. condo, and we shared a postage-stamp-sized back yard with our upstairs neighbors. It was early summer, and the kids were out of school and in day camps; I worked until about three o’clock and spent afternoons ferrying them around to play dates and playgrounds and running errands while compulsively checking my office voice mail.

I didn’t have time for a puppy.

But seven-year-old Cecily never missed an opportunity to remind us she wanted-deserved-couldn’t-live-without a puppy, and that summer she finally wore her father down. George informed me that he had decided to get a puppy, and proposed that we share it. I reluctantly went along with the plan, so long as this “joint custody dog” was small and non-shedding. We settled on a cockpaoo (or “cockerpoo” — there’s no consensus on what to call a cocker spaniel-poodle mix). George picked out the puppy from a breeder and left it in a friend’s care until the following weekend, when he planned to surprise Cecily with “her” new puppy.

I remember the puppy’s entrance into our fractured family as vividly as I do the days when my children were born. The kids and I were waiting on the front porch for George to pick them up for the weekend. He climbed the steps cradling something small and yellow, which Cecily initially mistook for a stuffed animal. All three kids squealed when they realized that it was a real dog, one not much larger than the Beanie Babies they collected. Soft, cuddly and button-eyed, “Teddy” all but named himself.


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