When I was in college, the people who lived across the street from us had a cocker spaniel puppy. About once a day, one of my roommates would call out, “Hey, Sharkey, the puppy is out!” We’d run to the window and our teeth would ache from the sweetness of that little dog we didn’t even know. Four dogless years in dorms and apartments were causing me to go through withdrawal.

After graduation I was looking for a place to live in Minneapolis. I heard about a woman who was looking for a roommate, so I went to her townhouse to meet her. Within moments of sitting down, her cocker spaniel, Chloe, was on my lap. I was so excited. I called my mom to tell her about the place, which was nice. I said, “And it has a built-in dog!”

Ten months later, I couldn’t take living with Chloe’s owner anymore. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say that she’d earned the nickname Psycho-Bitch from Hell. I moved out. About a year later, PBH called me out of the blue. “I need to find a new home for Chloe. We’re getting new carpet, and we can’t keep her anymore.” I thought, Are you kidding me? This is the best dog in the world, and you’re going to give her up because of carpet?!? (Thanks Susie, for the italics tip.) Without hesitation, I offered to take her.

On the day that I went to pick Chloe up, I found her confined to PBH’s lower level. It wasn’t a terrible place, but there wasn’t any furniture so it was obvious that she wasn’t getting much attention. I took her and all of her food, gear, and toys. She jumped into my car and we never looked back.

As good a dog as she was, she did have her moments. More than once, I pulled back the covers to crawl into bed (late at night, of course) and found that she had peed right in the middle of the bed. She could be a vindictive little thing if I’d done something to upset her.

One day, she managed to escape from my fenced back yard. I don’t know how long she’d been gone before I discovered she was missing, but I was worried because I only lived about 1/2 block from a busy street. I started off in search of her around the neighborhood, calling her name frantically. After a few minutes, I walked past a woman who asked if I was looking for my dog. She pointed up the street, and there was Chloe lying under a tree, just watching the world go by.

The photo above was taken at the pet store. I got Chloe up onto the table, and the photographer asked if there were any special words that she responded to. Biscuits were her favorite thing, so in an attempt to get Chloe to cock her head in the cute way that dogs do, the photographer said, “Do you want a biscuit?” At the sound of that word, she leapt off the table. It happened so quickly that I’m not even sure there was time for a picture. So back up onto the table she went. This same scenario repeated itself several times. I really wish I could’ve seen all the proofs from the session because I’m sure they were hilarious. Finally, after the photographer, Chloe, and I were all exhausted, we managed to get this shot.

We lost our Chlo-dog three years ago this week. She developed some sort of growth or tumor in her head or inner ear, and she was suffering. The vet came to our house to spare her one last stressful trip to the office. As hard as it was, we let her know how much we loved her and then we let her go. We still miss her, and I still carry this photo in my wallet.


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