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A Brief History of Chet, Part II

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Chet, in his tube sock sweater, February 2005

So there I was, stewing over a puppy who hadn't even been born yet. I had second pick of the litter. I wanted to surprise the kids with a picture of him on Christmas morning, although he wouldn't be ready to leave his mom's side until February. I waited out the last few weeks of Chili's pregnancy, probably driving Jane up a wall, sending emails asking how she was doing. Phoebe, who reads my email, found one from Jane that I hadn't manage to file away. "What's this about puppies?" she asked shyly. Oh, boy. The secret was out, in a big way. I toyed with the idea of having Jane send me an email saying both puppies were spoken for, and decided that would be too cruel. I realized that it would be a lot more fun if the kids were in on the process. And, boy was it fun! Finally, on December 12, Chili went into labor, and two puppies were born, both males. Jane sent me pictures of both, and told me we'd have to wait until her #1 couple had made their choice. The puppies looked like hamsters. I asked Phoebe and Liam which one they wanted, and both picked Chet. And lo and behold, the #1 couple picked the other puppy. Life was good.
We lived from email to email, seeing Chet grow from hamster to roly-poly puppy. The next two months seemed like an eternity to us. I was looking at the busiest travel year of my life, starting in March. Was I nuts to get a puppy now? I decided that I'd start kenneling him at an early age, and I'd try not to be a complete nut about leaving him. As it turned out, Chet's veterinarian runs an excellent kennel in the basement of her practice, and Chet whines and cries when we take him there for appointments or kenneling, wanting to get in! He showers the techs with kisses and eats his meals and is always ready to play. They love him, and it makes it a whole lot easier to leave him.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. On February 17, 2005, Phoebe, Liam and I made the drive over to the East Coast to pick Chet up. We visited my mom in Maryland, then cut north for Pennsylvania. As we pulled up Jane's driveway, an enormous flock of spring male red-winged blackbirds flew alongside our car, such a beautiful sight. I took it as an omen for a new life beginning.
It's been almost a year. Chet has changed our lives in so many ways. We laugh more, love more, and definitely walk the Loop a lot more. I can't imagine life without him. He's featured on Jane's web site as a puppy and as an adult; his story's been on National Public Radio; the UPS and Fed-ex guys all love him. He is, in Eudora Welty's words, the heartbeat at my feet.


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