Sunday, November 18, 2007

Wiggly Puppy Fuzz

I thought I had managed to escape it. I thought I had buried my feelings down into the depths of my soul, far away from the reaches of happy puppies prancing on the sidewalk and the pets-of-the-week at work. I thought I had overcome the need, the aching within my heart whenever I thought of enthusiastic tiny tongues and the sound of tiny feet tap-dancing against my head.

Ha. Right.

This Saturday, as we prepared to go to lunch with our friends Bryan and Candace, Ben spoke the words dearest to my heart: "Do you want to go to the puppy store?"

Did I? Did I!!! I was leaping in enthusiasm and bobbing my head faster than a broken bobble head. You bet I did!

All through lunch, my foot twitched impatiently. While our friends cooed over babies, I cooed over a small dog barking in a car. While Candace waxed poetic about her friend's babies, I smiled as I thought of the empty space under my chin that would be filled with a warm squirming mass of puppy.

Soon, I thought, soon.

Finally, we arrived at those heavenly doors. I was ecstatic to see the store was nearly twit-free in the puppy section, and bolted for the cages. I passed yipping yorkies, squirming dachshunds and a St. Bernard who looked more like a fuzzy cannonball than a puppy. But where were my Chihuahuas? My heart sank. Not even Ben's offer of a session holding a golden cocker spaniel with the most delicate ears I'd ever seen cheered me. Distressed, I felt my heart sink into the depths of my toes. There would be no hot puppy breath against my cheek today.

"Excuse me?" Ben asked one of the puppy guardians. "Do you have a Chihuahua?"

"Oh yes," the puppy guardian nodded vigorously.

"Where?" I cried, rushing towards the cages and plastering myself to the plastic windows. "I don't see one!"

"It's a long haired Chihuahua," the puppy guardian said, pointing to a curled mass of white fuzz. "This little boy right here. I'll get him for you." For what seemed like the rest of my life, she walked five feet behind a door and opened up the cage. She extracted the white fuzzball and came back out. As I clutched the squirming mass of fur, two black eyes peered up at me with a familiar smile.

Oh My God. It was a Chihuahua in a fuzzy coat. This dog had all the personality and charisma of my beloved breed and was wrapped in a furry shell that would make a poodle puppy envious. This dog was the most perfect of dogs. It was THE dog. There was no way a Chihuahua could get better.

And just like our beloved Ace, this dog had personality. He nibbled my wrist, delicately chewed my necklace and kissed me decidedly several times. His hot breath blew across my cheek as he tried to attack the swinging golden vines hanging from my head. I entwined my fingers into the curling masses of fuzz that surrounded him. The void under my chin had been filled, a perfect size of warmth against my collarbone. I was home again.

With the first Chihuahua, he had promptly fallen asleep in my cupped hands. I felt the need to keep him warm as he shivered delicately and my fingers wrapped around him as a flesh cocoon. Not only was this puppy spirited and determined to chew my necklace, no matter how many times I threw it around my neck, he had gorgeous white curls. It was like scrunching your fingers through a baby's ringlets. No amount of shampoo imaginable could create fuzz as soft as what covered the wiggly puppy in my arms. He was a superior puppy.

Just as my chest had began to warm, the time had come. The puppy was efficiently plucked from my arms and returned to his plastic prison, where he promptly began to torment his roommate. My chin has grown cold, my cheek unattended. For the rest of the day, I continued to touch the void the wiggly ball of sweet puppy fuzz had left. When I woke up this morning, the wisps of a dream left the memory of his warmth on my collarbone.

As we drove home, I told Ben, "It's decided then."

"What is?" he asked.

"We'll get two white Chihuahuas," I said. "A short-haired one for you, and a long-haired one for me."

Ben thought for a moment, nodding to himself. "He was a cute puppy, wasn't he?"

"He was," I said. "Why didn't you hold him?"

"I didn't trust myself," he said seriously. "I can't wait until we get puppies."

"I can't either," I said. As we drove home, the echo of puppy lingered under my chin and in my heart. Until then, puppies. Until then.