An unorthodox Man’s Unorthodox Search for a Dog

As you look over this open letter to the universe, please understand I am not a bright man nor an insightful one. I don’t understand how the universe and existence work. To be honest, I don’t understand how a radio or a can opener works. Still, I’ve used open letters to the universe to find a job and a house, so I’d be a fool not to try again.

Lucy–A Princess of a Dog

Dear Universe,

Three-and-a-half years ago, I wrote you a letter about the next step in my improbable life. At the time, I lived in a Tiny White Box five miles from the Canadian border. (“Tiny,” by the way, is no exaggeration—I had 27 square feet of floor space, a smidge larger than a handicapped bathroom stall.) I’d finished wintering over and was beginning to plot a job. Your response to that letter was the job I currently hold and love, running Hope for New Hampshire Recovery. Thank you for that.

About two years ago, I wrote you another letter. I was still living in the Tiny White Box, now located in Manchester rather than Pittsburg, and had a hankering for the ability to shower and use a flush toilet. You responded almost immediately, finding me the log cabin I live in today. I moved in here a month before the pandemic hit. The cabin is on a quiet country road, has a large front yard and acres of conservation land behind it. As a lagniappe, you’ve also brought me a life partner, Maria Elena, who is much smarter, more insightful and attractive than I. I am funnier, a small comfort. Thank you for that, Universe. You’ve been far better to me than I’ve ever been to you.

As you know, my previous life companion, Lucy, died a little over a year ago and is buried in the cabin’s backyard. Lucy, who happened to have manifested in dog form, was also smarter, more insightful and attractive than I. She was funnier, too. You brought her into my life for eight-and-a-half wonderful years, and I bear you no ill will for taking her away. Still . . . I miss her intensely and painfully every day. Which leads to this third letter in three years.

Please, Universe, lead a dog into my life. Maria Elena is wonderful beyond words, but, alas, she has a human, not a canine heart. That’s no criticism, but she can’t fill that dog-shaped hole in my life, a life that is beautiful beyond measure and for which I am grateful every minute of every day. As with my previous letters, I will likely sound like an eight-year-old boy composing a list for Santa Claus. Please know I am a well-reared boy, who will thank you for any response, even silence.

If there’s a family out there who needs to give up their dog, because of moving or time constraints or the birth of a child, I’d love to ease their pain. If there’s a shelter out there with the dog you’ve chosen, I’ll be happy. I’d prefer not to have a dog thief read over what follows and use it as a checklist for burglary.

The dog I hope for is medium sized, not the equivalent of a clubbing girl’s clutch but also not an animated replacement for a sofa. I imagine a dog ranging from a Springer Spaniel at the low end to a Golden Retriever at the upper. Let’s say between 45 and 75 pounds, although I promise not to actually weigh anyone until I’ve gotten to know them.

Coloring, hair length, tail strength, ears and other such things are completely extraneous. As with humans, I try to judge dogs on their character rather than their physical attributes, although I realize leading with weight above shows an uncomfortable hypocrisy. 

Age is not just a number, as my 62-year-old body reminds me every morning, but dog ages aren’t really important. I think I’d like a young or young adult dog, but could be convinced to join lives with a puppy if I fell in love—and who doesn’t fall in love with puppies? An old dog, one who’s in dotage, would be too heartbreaking for me. I’ve just accepted Lucy’s death, and don’t want to face another in a year.

I’d like to meet a dog who’s learned to relieve her or himself outside. Likewise, having a few basic commands would be nice, although not necessary. I mean, I’d love it if I could utter the statement, “Demonstrate existential angst!” and have a dog recite a brief passage from Camus. Likewise, it’d be cool to mutter, “Bring me a cup of coffee, the book from my nightstand and a pack of smokes!” and get more than a quizzical look from a dog.

As for breed, I ‘m almost completely neutral. Being adopted myself, and knowing little about my own lineage, I’m pretty accepting of any combination of breeds. Oh, I do have nightmare combinations that would take a while to cotton to. If one drunken night had led to a lovemaking session between a Jack Russell Terrier and a Newfoundland, I wouldn’t judge, but also wouldn’t necessarily want the offspring in my life. 

Gender doesn’t matter, although I will definitely spay or neuter whatever dog wanders into my life. I understand forced sterilization limits a creature’s options, but I’ve spent too much time visiting shelters and pounds to contribute to overpopulation. 

I don’t like yappy dogs. At all. Not even a little bit. Luckily, the yappiest breeds seem to exist below my desired weight. Still, fattening up a Beagle or planting lead pellets in a Chihuahua’s gut is not going to make them part of my life.  I’d like a dog who barks for a reason, not just to show s/he’s alive.

Overall, Universe, I want a dog who’s happy to be alive, up for adventure, affectionate and filled with a desire to see what’s around the next corner. I trust you to bring such a dog into my life or not as you see fit. After all, you brough me a job I love, a home I love and a woman I love. If I’ve used up my three wishes, so be it.

But I’d sure like a dog!

Best,

Keith

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