Do you think there is such a place, Toto?

My heart normally walks on four little legs. Legs that spring to action. Legs that rest during rainy day naps. Little legs that patter across the floor in joy. Legs that raise up when someone needs a hand to hold.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve tripped on a water bowl. It’s been two weeks since I’ve had to spring out of bed upon waking to get my shoes on. A fortnight since a little tongue has kissed me goodnight. Two weeks since I’ve said goodbye to my “Toto”, My Teddy.

I was born an animal lover. Anything fuzzy, or furry, or warm nosed or bushy tailed has always captivated my heart. But, dogs, especially, have had a way of enchanting me. It may seem silly, but I look into their bright, beady little eyes and I feel like I know their story. I can see a dog walking down the street, blocks away, and know that that dog is going to want to say “hello” to me. They want to see right through me. And that’s how we found our Ted.

My husband and I were having a particularly terrible, New York City, type of day four years ago. One of those days where it seems like the entire island has conspired against to, to assure that everything goes wrong.

“Hey, I’m going to make sure the A train is running local, ok?”, says the MTA.

Midtown responds, “Sounds great. I’m going to put a heckler right outside the Equity Building!”

“Roger that”, says Equity. “I’m gonna make sure she doesn’t here her name called when it’s time to turn in headshots.”

Days like that happen. But Steve had had a doozy of one himself, so we decided to meet for a dinner we couldn’t afford before going home from work. It was delicious, and we ate it guiltily. It was an Italian spot in our old neighborhood, which was perfect for a couple in their mid twenties who are feeling sad, nostalgic and poverty line.

Now, it’s important to have little indulgences in New York that are free. Just simple things that make you feel better, even when you’re strapped for cash. Mine include getting dressed for a night out and walking Fifth Avenue, taking a book into Central Park between errands, and raiding the fridges of families I am babysitting for after the kids go to bed and putting on Netflix. To name a few. The best of all is walking into City Pups (in all of the wealthy neighborhoods) and pretending that I’m shopping for a puppy. THAT was the cure on this particular night.

Steve and I walked into the nearest pet shop expecting to hold a $5000 dollar Frenchie pup for a moment and then call it a day. What we saw, instead, was a wall of travel kennels, three wide and three high, carrying dogs of various breeds and ages, who upon each opening of the door would back and yelp and screech as though they had a message that they urgently needed to get to Jersey.

All except one.

They were hosting a rescue. This skinny thing was lying in a donut shaped bed. He picked up his droopy head, gave a sigh, and immediately cozied back down. I said to the woman in charge, “Who is that?”.

She said he was was a yorkie mutt that she had found running around like a wild man in the Bronx, fending for himself. He was a dog that couldn’t be left unaccompanied with water because he would chug it in fear of not being able to find more for a while. He was a pooch that didn’t know how to play with toys. He was all these things. But who he was going to be was OUR DOG.

Teddy loved the car. He loved playing hands. He loved tearing toys apart and neatly piling the cotton stuffing to the side. He loved carrots and cucumber, apples and bananas. He loved water. He loved hiking and adventures. He loved coming to work with his mom and dad and meeting their cast-mates . He loved sleeping on bath mats. He loved cats, even though they did not reciprocate. He loved the nooks of legs. He loved morning kisses. He loved children. He loved running down hotel hallways. But most of all, He loved Us. And we loved him.

So the legs have been taken out from under my heart. It lies in my chest, heavy against my ribs. We picked his ashes up from the vet this morning. As I held him in my hands, my heart quivered, peeking out from between the bones. But then, much like that little dog in the donut bed, heaved a sigh and sank back down to rest. It will not stay like this forever. In the years to come there will be a time when four new legs take on the burden, and push my heart back up to where it belongs. But for now, it rests and it mourns.

Teddy; my love, my bubba, my bubbaloo, my good boy, my Toto. Enjoy your run across that rainbow bridge. I’ll love you forever. Thank you for choosing me.

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