From the day Luna came into our lives, we said we would find her a companion. We’ve always believed in having at least two of any pet so they would have a friend of their own species. It seemed it should be simple enough. Sort of. Luna is a bossy little thing — the Queen, we call her — and I worried that a bigger dog might not take so kindly to her yappiness. It didn’t seem fair to bring home a senior, something we always planned to do, since we feared her bossiness might stress an older dog. We signed up for rescue alerts, but somehow it was never quite right. Meanwhile, I worried if Luna would really be happy with a second pet, or would she, like Mugsy, resent having to share us? Still, I worried even more about the time she spent alone when we have to be away and can’t take her along.
In the past, it seemed we just sort of happened upon the dogs that were right for us. I found Babe, our blue-eyed Beagle, in a pet store I’d popped into while waiting for my friend to arrive for our grocery shopping date — something we’d never done before or since. I was instantly smitten and she became the first dog in a house of three cats. We found Doozi, a Bearded Collie, at the shelter where she had been dropped just the previous night, and Linus, a Retriever mix, in a newspaper photo featuring the rescue of his mother and her litter. When I pulled into the local shelter to help manage a fundraiser, Mugsy greeted me with such ferocious barking, I immediately thought, No one’s going to adopt that one. Turned out Mugsy, likely a Terrier/Boxer mix, was just a big-mouthed pup, and he became number three in our household pack. Over the years, we lost Linus, then Doozi, and Mugsy, not necessarily friendly to other dogs, remained our sole pup. After we lost him in October 2016, we knew we’d adopt another — after my heart healed. A month later, I read a Facebook post about Luna, a Papillon, from a woman I’d never met, but who happened to be a FB friend of an acquaintance. After a quick chat and learning that Luna needed more care than the single mother who’d adopted her could give, I agreed to take her in. When more than a year passed and Luna remained our only pup, I began to think that was the way it would have to be. Then one day, on a whim, I signed on to a local Facebook Buy and Sell page and found a post about Monkey. The woman who wrote it said she loved her little guy, but couldn’t give him the care he needed. We chatted a bit. Monkey, she said, was four, a Shih Tzu with a flea problem, but otherwise healthy; docile and sweet-natured. It seemed the perfect match. We agreed we’d pick him up that weekend, but then the conversation stopped. I was back to thinking Luna might remain a pack of one. But then, a few days ago, I found a message: Was I still interested in Monkey? We brought him home that night. He is as adorable as they come, but he was miserable. His skin was red, raw in places. He had gashes on his legs and belly, and he absolutely could not stop itching. Too, I noted his hind end seemed somehow weak.
We were at Grove Veterinary Clinic at 9 the next morning. Monkey, we think, is likely part Shih Tzu, mixed with something, perhaps Havanese. He is allergic to fleas, which triggered his terrible skin condition, and both back knees need surgery. Despite his sorry condition, the little guy was still in good spirits and charmed the entire staff. They even shot a video.
And the good news is the flea meds, the anti-itch shot, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics went right to work and he was remarkably better in hours. And yes, the surgery is going to cost me a fortune, but I’ll figure it out. At least the problem is fixable.
As I write, Monkey is snoring peacefully a few feet away while Luna rests by my feet, one eye open, watching, making sure he knows who’s queen.
But I sense she already knows, life is just better shared with a friend.
Lori Tobias is the author of the novel “Wander” and a journalist of many years. Follow her at loritobias.com.