This afternoon I will have a dog again.
It might sound strange to some of you who aren't pet owners, but as someone who's had, for the last decade at least, a menagerie surrounding her, the lack of pet life in the house for the last six months has been a strange, sometimes lonely existence. I've had loaner pets like Lily the tabby cat, Docker the whippet and Murphy the black lab, but occasional pats and walks are not the same as the strange affection you get for an animal that will trample on you in the middle of the night.
But after six months of waiting, Otis arrives. Today.
As I write this, he's on the plane, waiting for takeoff. It won't be fun for him but 12 hours from now it will all be over, fingers crossed, including the vet and customs clearance. And, once again, I will have a dog.
In a weird way, Otis has become a figment of my imagination. So to have him arrive again is as if Prince Charming has popped out of Sleeping Beauty and landed at my feet. Strange and surreal, but hey, it's Prince Charming. Well, maybe Tramp from Lady and the Tramp is a better Disney analogy, but still in many ways it's as if the dog that I received under the Christmas tree when I was four is suddenly coming alive and once again Otis is a real being, like Pinocchio becoming a real boy.
Augh. Enough Disney already.
It's been a long road to get him here, and a financial outlay equal to the worst vet bill, but thanks to some hard working and loving sisters and generous, helpful parents, Otis is on his way.
But those who were around in the last 2.5 years know how much I've fought for this particular dog. As he was attacked in the park by a pitt bull I (insanely) stepped into the fray and helped to beat off his mangy attacker. When he went missing after the gardener didn't lock the gate right and Otis decided to go on walkabout, I didn't give up on him - 3 weeks on I was still putting up posters in Sherman Oaks and posting notices on Craigslist. Sleepless nights and buckets of tears - and after all that I was lucky for the chance to ransom him back. I've paid for two tumors to be removed, attempts to cure stubborn ear infections, haircuts, vitamins...he didn't sleep on satin sheets but I think that's the only thing I didn't pay for.
People can say, "But he's a dog. Rehome him." Which, actually, my mother actually did say when we first heard the original price of shipping him - which, luckily for me, that estimate was $1,000 over the actual $1,500 to ship him. To be fair, I had sticker shock as much as my parents did. But there's something about the magic of Otis that everyone who meets him, who lives with him, who spends time with him seems to understand why he's a special little dog and worth all the expense.
And if they don't understand, they're smart enough to keep their trap(s) shut. At least around me.
Otis arrives tomorrow. Well, today. This afternoon. 12 hours from this moment I'll have my dog again. Not A dog. MY dog.
And what a lovely, lovely thing that is.