The book contains 101 stories about our canine friends. Some hilarious. Some heartwarming.
I think mine, "Tundra's Clone," carries a bit of both. But you be the judge.
“Sheesh Dad, she’s bawlin’ again.”
Patty’s voice echoed down the hall into our master bedroom. My Super Mom Radar detected a patented eye-roll accompanying our sixth-grader’s words.
I rested my forehead against the cold window glass and stared at the weathered wooden cross in our backyard. A memorial for my dog Tundra, my constant companion.
I closed my eyes and pictured the companion who’d spent so many years by my side.
Wise brown eyes shining with love.
My husband Jake walked into the room and pulled me into his arms. “Honey, I’m sorry you’re hurting, but Tundra died last year. Maybe we should get a new dog.”
I jerked back and wailed like a two year old throwing a grocery store tantrum. “No dog could ever replace Tundra.”
Patty tip-toed into the room holding out a tissue box like a shield. “Mom, I miss Tundra too, but maybe looking at puppies will make us feel better.”
Despite my protests, we drove to our local Humane Society. Inside the florescent-lit room a barking chorus blasted our ears, a veritable Mastiff Tabernacle Choir.
A jeans-clad volunteer waved hello as she scrubbed the chain link kennels lining the long room. The scent of damp fur and fresh doggie poo competed with her pungent disinfectant.
Patty dashed from one canine resident to the next. A monstrously large Akita, roughly the size of Jupiter, sucked my tall, weight-lifter husband into its gravitational pull. “Hey honey, the tag says he came from Japan.” Jake reached into the cage and petted the mutant beast.
I forced a smile, but my heart ached for my precious Tundra. To hide my rising tears I walked to the end of the row.
There she stood.
My Tundra’s clone. In miniature.
Same golden fur.
Same alert ears.
Same smiling muzzle.
Same wise brown eyes shining with love.
“Lord, am I losing my mind?” I whispered.
Tundra’s tiny double pawed the kennel door as I knelt down. The force of her wagging tail shook her entire body. I knew this wasn’t my dog. Still, I couldn’t help whispering, “Tundra?”
The pup transformed into a bundle of canine craziness. Jumping, spinning, barking--the epitome of puppy joy.
Jake hurried over to see the commotion. His eyes widened. “Holy smoke, it’s Tundra. Pint sized.”
Patty ran over and screeched to a stop. “It’s a tiny Tundra!” She squatted next to me and gawked at Tundra’s replica.
She grabbed a leash and opened the kennel door. I crouched down and the Tundra clone raced into my outstretched arms. A second later I sat on the chilly concrete floor with the exuberant puppy commandeering my lap.
Jake watched the pup lick tears from my grinning face. My husband cast a longing glance at the planet-sized Akita, sighed, and pointed to the pooch in my lap. “Francis, we want to adopt this puppy.”
Francis bent and tickled the pup under her chin. “We found this little girl crouched in a drainpipe, shaking and sopping wet. Her owners have three more days to claim her. If not, she goes up for adoption on Monday.”
I cuddled the pup closer. “OK, we’ll pick her up Monday.”
Francis shook her head. “We adopt out on a first-come, first-served basis.”
Realization dawned with sickening clarity. I asked, “You mean, someone else might get her?”
She nodded. “I’m sorry, but that’s a possibility. The new owner must meet our adoption criteria, of course.”
Patty jumped to her feet. “My mom needs this puppy so she can quit cryin’ over her dead dog. This puppy is his clone!”
Francis patted Patty’s shoulder. “I can tell your mom really likes this dog, but it’s out of my hands. This puppy is exceptionally popular. If her owner doesn’t claim her, the first qualified person here Monday gets her.”
Francis lifted the pup from my lap and winked. “Fill out our paperwork, and check back Monday morning.”
I’d already lost my Tundra. The thought of not getting this puppy transitioned my eyes to “Embarrassing Public Tears” mode.
Patty groaned. “Sheesh, Dad, there she goes again.”
The next day, Saturday, I risked a ticket speeding to the animal shelter. Tiny Tundra leapt up, pawing the chain link door when she saw me.
Francis noticed, and brought the pup out. I spent the morning playing doggie-snuggle while rivers of people flowed past. When potential rivals ogled Tundra’s double, I tried projecting a, “This Dog is Taken” ray into their brains.
Sunday after church I hurried back to visit my duplicate Tundra.
A middle-aged woman cooed to her through the cage mesh. I sent up a panicked semi-prayer, "Lord, smite that woman with dog fur allergy. Or turn her into a cat lover.” Jerking out my wallet, I raced into the kennel’s office and found Francis. “I’ll pay extra to take her home today.”
She lifted her hands. “I’m sorry, we have to follow protocol. The owner has until tonight to claim her. Call us tomorrow.” At my stricken look Francis said, “If this doesn’t work out there are plenty of other dogs available.”
“Not for me.”
Francis tapped her finger against her chin. “Get here tomorrow before we open. If you’re the first approved applicant, she’ll be yours.” Francis held up a cautioning hand. “Even so, you can’t take her directly home. We’d transport her to your veterinarian to be spayed. You’d get her from there.”
Giddy with happiness, I rushed home to share the news, then called my boss to request Monday morning off.
He answered after multiple rings, his voice squeaking like a smashed party horn. I explained my dilemma. He said, “Half of the office is sick. I’m sorry, but we need you at work.”
Panic set in. Someone else would get my dog.
Jake stroked my back. “Calm down. I’ll go there tomorrow morning after work.”
“You work nights. By the time you get there it’ll be too late.” I pictured tiny Tundra with the middle-aged cooing woman. My overactive tear-ducts sprang into action.
Patty strolled into the room. “Sheesh, Dad, not again!”
At her father’s, “Not now,” signal, Patty sighed and wandered out.
Jake lifted my chin. “Everything will work out. You’ll see.”
Monday morning found me performing agonized mental gymnastics. Would Jake reach the shelter before someone else claimed my puppy? I drove to work trembling. Jake called soon after, sounding cheerful. “Swing by the vet tonight to pick up your dog.”
I choked out, “Jake, you’re the best,” before my eyes locked into “Uncontrollable Joyous Tears” mode.
That evening we sat on the living room floor while Tiny Tundra romped across our legs. I snuggled against Jake. “Sorry for acting so crazy after Tundra died.”
“You acted pretty crazy about Tiny Tundra too, Mom,” Patty chimed in.
Encircled by the precious family who’d supported me through the challenging past year, tears welled. Patty scooped up Tiny Tundra and settled her in my lap. “Mom, enough blubbering!”
Laughing, I kissed Patty’s cheek and cuddled our vivacious pup. “Happy tears, Honey. Only happy tears from now on.”