I Believe in Having a Dog

May 19th, 2010 by Melina

Happy 5th Birthday Creature!

Note: Thanks to  the beauty of scheduled blog posts, this is going up on Creature’s actual birthday (5/19). Which feels odd, because I’m off dealing with Shavuot (and have probably had too much cheesecake) am not online. I’ll be back tomorrow night.

(Okay, so I messed up the scheduled blog post thing, so this is going up a day late. . .)

In January of 2007, when Creature was about 1 and a half, and before I’d even dreamed I’d ever actually write a novel, I woke up one morning suddenly wanting to write an essay for the NPR show This I Believe. So I did. Unfortunately, by the time I had the guts to send it in, the show had run its course.

But, in honor of Creature’s 5th birthday, I’m posting it here. Considering the way I usually talk about him, he deserves something nice from me today.


I believe in having a dog. I believe in falling asleep with a dog snuggled in the space behind my knees, and waking up to doggie kisses. I believe in having a dog to drag me out of bed on cold January mornings, because I know that without a dog, there’s no way I’d find myself in Central Park at 7:30 a.m. on a Monday morning, admiring the light dusting of snow on the bare trees.

My dog also has a belief system. He believes in his right to kibble. He believes in going on walks through the park, and running into his neighbors, like Lucas, the cocker spaniel who lives down the block. He believes in saying hello to all the toddlers who squeal with delight when they see us walking down the street. He believes in taxi rides and trips to the Laundromat.

But most of all, be believes in coming home. He runs up the stairs of our walk-up and waits for me on the doormat. He wags his tail a million miles a minute as I unlock the door. He dashes into the apartment and rolls around on the couch (and snorts) to reclaim his territory, and then he finds a toy to play with.

A few weeks ago, I went to California to visit my mother. It’s the first time since I was 11 years old that there hasn’t been a dog in her house. It felt wrong. When I opened the front door, nobody danced around me as if I was the answer to their prayers. Still, I closed the door quickly and tightly, to keep the dog from running out. I was raised that way.

When I made my coffee in the morning, my hand would reach out instinctively to open the laundry room door to let the dog in or out. If I dropped a piece of food, I’d leave it on the floor for a minute, until I realized there was no dog around to appreciate my clumsiness. Worst of all, I felt the lack of comforting doggie sounds, like the lapping of water, the click-clack of furry paws on the hardwood floor, the jingle of dog tags, and the squeak of chew toys.

Having a dog isn’t always easy. When I come home from work and find the garbage all over my freshly washed kitchen floor, or a week’s worth of previously clean socks all over the living room (some with fresh holes in the toe), I glare into Hamudi’s eyes and threaten to post him on Craigslist. “One naughty, sneaky, gluttonous and slightly neurotic cocker spaniel needs home,” I imagine the ad would read. I see the guilt and shame in his eyes, and he sulks and walks away while I begin cleaning up.

But a few minutes later, I hear the squeak of a terrycloth bee. I look up, and see Hamudi playing contently. He catches my eye. We stare at each other. He tilts his head. The bee dangles from his mouth.

He knows he’s being cute.

I know I’m being manipulated.

But I forgive him, because I believe in having a dog.

I love you Hamudi! You belong to the most precious species on the planet. You make life so much sweeter. Thank you for the laughs, for the entertainment, for being such a great snuggler and for doubling as a hot water bottle.

And thanks for guarding me from the evil squirrel.

By the way, age 5 means Kindergarten! But you’re a prodigy. You graduated from Puppy Kindergarten when you were just a few months old. I’ll never forget how you flew across the floor (with the help of your ears, of course) when we yelled, “Hamudi! Come!” Such a good boy.

The residents of Park Slope thank you for patrolling and making sure nobody’s up to no good.

Just for today, I’ll refer to you by your real name. Happy birthday Hamudi!

And I have to give a shout-out to Tuck, the dog I grew up with. His loyalty and beauty put him in a class with Old Yeller, Old Dan and Little Ann, and Lassie.

Dear Readers: I’m curious. What would you write about for This I Believe?

P.S. I apologize if this post was so sickeningly sweet if gave you cavities. Obviously, I am not myself. Feel free to send me your dentist bill.

Posted in Creature Feature

6 Responses

  1. Karne

    I believe in owning a cat.

    I’m more a cat person than a dog person, but really, I like animals. All of them. I can’t imagine growing up as a kid without a pet of some kind (severe allergies aside). I’ve had parakeets, mice, hamsters, gerbils, a chameleon, newts, tadpoles, fish, cats, and one dog. Mom drew the line at rats and larger rodents. My husband has nixed the reptiles. We’re down to a cat and a dog right now, but at peak, my boys had a cat, a dog, two hamsters and 4 tanks of fish. That mouse Darwin caught last week? I serious considered retrieving the rodent cage from the cellar. Jeff wants to get rid of them, but I KNOW there are more pets in my boys future. Soon. (Shh, don’t tell him yet but I think a gerbil on the writing desk is just the thing. And I’m certain my cat would approve.)

  2. admin

    I would love to have a cat, and Hamudi would love the company, but I’m severely allergic I’d probably end up on the hospital.

    I always wanted a gerbil, but they aren’t legal in CA (something about digging, I don’t know). I had hamsters though. And I had guinea pigs in my first grade classroom. Great therapy for kids who really needed love.

    I almost got a turtle when I was in third grade. My mom thought it was the perfect pet for a kid with allergies. But they were illegal too. What’s up with CA?

    Someday, I’d love another dog. And a rabbit. I’m still wishing there was a way I could adopt a kitten. . .

  3. Pamela Cayne

    What a sweet and wonderful post! Give Hamudi a birthday skitch behind his ears for me. And what I’d write about? Heck, I don’t know–I believe in many things from creatures great and small to fabulous friends (ahem) to having adventures to amazing stories.

  4. Cynthia

    Happy birthday Hamudi! It’s good to see a happy post about him for a change. ;)

    I don’t know what I’d write about. My brain is still trying to recover from the tech-fry I got last night.

  5. admin

    Pam, good friends (ahem) are definitely something to believe in!

    Cynthia, I figured it was time to shine a light on Creature’s, oops I mean Hamudi’s, good qualities. It’s just that the drama is so much more fun to share.

    Good luck with the tech troubles!


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