Dear Debbie

Dear Debbie,

Today after I went for a run, injected myself with a daily dose of java, and endured the long, strange stride home in shimmering spandex, I found you.

It’s not what you might think, or what I had expected. As I passed a shivering little hound on the street, sprawled out on the sidewalk outside the bagel shop, I was reminded to start looking for you — and Debbie, when I returned home, that’s just what I did.

I went to my roommate, Mignon — you’d like her, since you’re looking for a “snuggle companion” — and told her to look for you, too. Together we perused the great, snuggly Internet machine that is Petfinder.com, where thousands of little Debbie’s and Cleopatra’s, Prancer’s and Bo Diddly’s are looking for homes, just like you. Then thoughtfully selecting my options from the drop down lists: Location? Brooklyn. Type? Dog. Breed? Boxer. Age? Any. Gender? Any. You entered my head.

(Debbie, before going on explaining how this went, I want to let you know that I’m your cheerleader. I’m one-fourth an inhabitant of my cozy, third floor apartment that is on your team. Space is not on my side, and neither is my work schedule 100 percent of the time, and neither is one of my roommates (but we’ve kept her out of the loop, just for you, Deb, just for you). But for you, to be here, anything. It goes without saying that three-quarters of the women I live with melted at the sight of your face, and I’m pretty sure I could get an “Awwwwwww…” out of the fourth one, too).

I hit “search” and the list appeared. First was Joon, then Manny, then you, Debbie.

As I began reading your profile, entering into an OkCupid world of pet dating I didn’t know existed, I decided I liked you from your nose to your tail, inside and out. You were a wonderful best friend. You were a clean girl. You were active, yet chill. Most importantly, you liked to snuggle. You were in Brooklyn, I was in Brooklyn, it was Sunday, I didn’t have plans and Debbie, it just seemed right.

I told Mignon that I was going to walk the 2.2 miles to see you. She wouldn’t come because she knew the fires of your cuteness would make her die of cute overload, so I went alone. During that walk to you I prematurely dreamt of putting you in sweaters and fighting over whose bed you slept in, where your food dish would sit and what brand of breeder-endorsed kibble would fill it. I thought about how adorable you’d be pressing your big nose against my jeans as I washed the dishes, and I thought of how you could help wash dishes, if you wanted. I thought about how precious you’d be, and how many people would want to pet you all the time, and how when they’d ask for your story I could say “This is Debbie, she’s a RESCUE,” like all the Brooklynites say so proudly.

I was getting awfully deep into Brooklyn when I came to your house, which had no markings of being your house, i.e. a sign with the word “SHELTER.” But the big dogs running around in your backyard were a dead giveaway, and the numbers on the building matched the ones I’d gotten from your profile on the Petfinder, so I gave a buzz.

A big friendly man answered and I said, “Hi, I’m here to see Debbie!”

Debbie, do you know what he told me? Standing outside your door on the southernmost edge of Prospect Park, with a windchill of negative-something-degrees, my legs chapped from 2.2 miles of practically skipping to see you in addition to not wearing the appropriate thickness of socks, I learned:
You weren’t home.

Not only were you not home, Debbie, but this was no longer your home. Someone had seen your sweet moon-sized eyes just as I had, and someone had gotten to you first. They were probably already snuggling with you, just as they would be for the next 12-14 years. I grew a little sad knowing that it wouldn’t be me, and a little happy that I wouldn’t have to explain to Roommate #4 where the dog in our living room came from.

As it turned out, your sister Emmy was home. She was still looking for a new family and was also a gentle country girl from the backwoods of West Virginia that needed a happy home free of people that were heavy-handed and didn’t make her sleep in her poop. So would I like to see Emmy? I figured I could respect both of these rules, plus I was already here, so I said, “Show me The Emmy.”

Then I met your sister, Debbie. She came blasting out of the door, big Emmy with the softest heart and sweet eyes like yours, but the caramel-colored spot on her head was in a different place. She really needed a bath, and as I took her for a spin around the block — “no strings attached,” Charles, the shelter coordinator assured me — I had recurring thoughts of giving Emmy the greatest bath of her life, to wash out all of the grime she’d picked up while living under the trailer in West Virginia. My solicitude multiplied as I thought of all the Emmy’s that needed baths, or walks, or homes, and a snuggle buddy like you’d already found, Debbie.

When I brought Emmy back to Charles, I knew there was no way I could keep her. She was too big for my teeny apartment and I was one-fourth of the stamp of approval. I stared at Emmy for a while. She sat against me with her hind on my feet and I could hear her thinking, So we in this together or what? You taking me home? Are you? Are you? Are you? Huh? 

I cried a little inside. I walked a few other rescue dogs that weren’t great like you, Debbie, or like your sister Emmy. My hopes of buying dog shampoo and sweaters and a little jiggly collar fell to my cold toes, and I walked 2.2 miles back home without you, Debbie. Dreams wouldn’t happen today.

As you read this, I hope you are on a warm lap, your coat gleaming with cleanliness, and your belly full of Omaha Steaks and chew toy stuffing. I hope you are happy with your new family, that your days are filled with more walks and kisses than you could ever imagine and your dreams with always catching the cat and the frisbee. Debbie, it’s been a pleasure knowing you online for four minutes, and for having the image of your lovable eyes in my head for a lifetime.

Be well, friend —

Walks and treats,
Jenny

• • •
And for good measure, this short film starring Zachary Quinto (who made an appearance at the office I work at a few weeks ago, where I was introduced to him. At the time I didn’t know who he was, but this short video has made a fan out of me.)

• • •

2 thoughts on “Dear Debbie

  1. So you made me cry. Also, I think you probably understan better than ever why I chose my profession, even if it hasn't actually turned into a profession yet. Debbie is what it's all about. Sadly, I'm in a state where the Debbie come FROM, not where they go TO. I can't wait until every state needs to transport dogs for adoption because there are too many homes and not enough dogs. 😦

    Your Debbie is out there. Take heart!

  2. Add a “d” to the word understand, and an “s” to the second Debbie. I'm going to go practice my proofreading.

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