a love letter to our dog

the one where what he’s really talking about is having a family

a love letter to our dog

When Claire met Bindi for the first time, our future pup stopped dead in her tracks, stared at her, made that weird noise that she does (“Aaaru-ru-ru-ru-ru!”), then ran away.

Claire was smitten.

We drove home with Bindi swaddled in blankets on the floor of our Prius. Claire cooing all the way. When we got to our apartment, Bindi promptly shit all over the floor.

The first of many.

Bindi was a Pixar character. A tiny, penguin-looking, stuffed animal thing with eyebrows that took up a third of her face. Those brows danced up and down and up and down.

I can’t quite remember what the catalyst was. Probably some act of laziness and moral torpor on my part. Whatever is was, Claire saw fit to confront me with the reality of our new situation:

Now that we had Bindi, we could either suffer through owning a dog or we could put in the time and effort to make her a part of our family.

We chose the latter.

Wherever we went, Bindi went. Work. Restaurants. Cafes. Bars. You name it. Ask forgiveness, not permission. That was the motto.

This was difficult for me. I can be a self-conscious creature and having a dog in places where people would otherwise rather you wouldn’t can be a pain. But fuck them. Bindi was my dog. And she came with me wherever I went.

However much we thought Bindi would change our lives, we still underestimated the extent of it.

Weekend getaways had to be pet-friendly. All spaces were transformed to fit her needs. Our schedules changed to accommodate doggie exercise, socialization, vet visits, frequent training, and entertainment.

Having Bindi meant that we automatically knew where the nearest dog park was. We knew which restaurants were pet-friendly.

When Bindi wasn’t with us we were constantly running a timer, “How long has she been without going out, without company, without fresh food?”

From the outside it sounds like a hefty commitment. Sure is. You’ve got to commit to disconnecting from the laptop or waking yourself from a drunken stupor to put trousers on, get out in the sunshine, and go exercise your dog. Quelle horreur.

In July of 2021, we set off on a cross-country tour in search of our dream boat.

I remember packing our tiny Prius so tightly I wasn’t sure we’d have enough room to breathe. Arranging every piece of our lives until we had not an inch to spare. Then leading Bindi up to her cot on the backseat.

Bindi hated that trip. She had a hard time getting settled in the moving car. Most times she’d be “Surfing USA”, trying to balance on four legs, while we kicked up dust along the Interstate 80.

But she was a trooper. And she made it all the way from California to Canada and back down to Miami again.

At some point along the way we found our dream boat in the Caribbean. Once again, we found ourselves trying to fit our dog into a process where the last thing anybody wanted was to hear about a dog.

Importing Bindi into Trinidad was criminally complicated and actually impossible on paper due to conflicting requirements from independent agencies, all of whom whose approval you needed, none of whom cared a whit about each other.

We succeeded only by the generosity of kind souls which, if you know me at all, you know that this would drive me crazy.

The day Bindi flew to Trinidad, I was already there to receive her. Claire was in Miami facilitating her departure.

So many things went wrong that day that I cannot begin to cover it without sounding like I’m rattling off a laundry list of unfortunate events. But Claire persevered. Through sleep deprivation. Through channeling her inner Karen in the face of an airline that had forgotten Bindi’s reservation. Through dealing with a power transformer exploding right outside of the AirBnB she was staying at, forcing her to evacuate. Through a dozen other minor and major roadblocks, Claire displayed strength, grace, and absolute single-mindedness in the pursuit of her dog’s wellbeing.

When you’re building an arch, a keystone is a central piece at the top that locks the whole construction together.

I think about that when I think about becoming a parent. And I know what kind of mother Claire will be. I know that, no matter what happens, our child will be loved and fiercely protected.

And, if all goes well, for the first few years of her life, that child will have the best dog in the world at her side.

I’m writing a lot these days. Subscribe for the daily updates and I’ll send occasional summaries of all of the essays you may have missed. That way you can catch up on just the essays that you find interesting. Or do it because it’s a good way to keep in touch. Mwah.