It all started with Muttle…Muttle being a dog. One Friday afternoon, not quite 21 years ago, when Zach was about a year old, I got a call from my father. He had left the heat on in our house in Great Neck and was heading down to my parents home in Florida. Could I drive out to longisland and shut the heat off while he was away. And I did because that’s what sons do.
Linda and I decided that I should take Zach with me. I also decided I’d stop off and see Hy and Arlene, long time family friends who lived near my parents in Great Neck. After taking care of things on Ramsey Road, I headed over to the home of Muttle, Arlene and Hy. At one point during our visit, I put Zach down on the floor. At which point, Muttle propped himself up on Zach’s shoulders and proceeded to start licking him, eventually. Zach toppled over, giggling with glee, with Muttle sitting on his little body and that’s how it all started.
Flash forward to the winter 1998, Zach is now 6 years, Allie is almost 9 and we just bought our house on Deerfield Road at the end of January. 2 weeks later we are at Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter to look for a dog. We are put in a room with a dog named Becky, who proceeds to prop herself up on Zach’s shoulders and lick him for about 5 minutes. Tired out from all this licking, she curls up in Allie’s lap, goes to sleep and that was all she wrote. Becky becomes Ripley and Ripley becomes a huge part of our family.
Ripley left us 3 years ago and I miss her all the time (for more on that you can read http://irasez.com/2010/08/28/ripley-and-me/).
Now it’s August 2007. Allie has graduated from HS and in a few days will start life at SU. Zach had been lamenting that he will “miss my sister so much, I need another dog.” My reply to his frequent requests had always been “let’s wait until you get back from camp and we can discuss it.”
On the 2nd Friday in August, 2007, Zach returns from camp. We turn out of the hotel parking lot adjacent to the Garden State Parkway at exit 156, get about a mile down the Parkway (if that), when Zach asks “So, when are we getting another dog.” My answer is we can discuss it. To which Zach states “No more discussions. We are getting another dog.”
Well, you know what happened. A day after we got Allie off to SU for her freshman year we were back at the Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter in a room with a litter of boxer/shepherd (or so we think) mixes.
Zach narrows the candidates down to 2 and than to 1. I run home to get Ripley to see how she will react to this new dog. We put Ripley in a room with one of the puppies and Ripley proceeds to shit all over the place. Just awesome. A week later we bring Cosmo home.
In August of 2010, Ripley leaves us but not before getting her 2 kids off to SU. In life and in death, timing is everything. We go back to being a one dog family…until now.
Over this past winter, one of Zach’s fraternity brothers adopted a dog from a litter of puppies he had seen on Marshall Street. They named her Shay. Once Zach realized that neither his friend or the friend’s roommate in Castle Court Apartment Complex where they all live knew the first thing about raising a dog, he started to take control. And at some point, Shay became Zach’s dog and so, Shay became our dog.
You want to know the great thing about owning a dog when you are a 21 year-old party hearty college student? It gives you a sense of responsibility, it grounds you and centers you. I am proud of my son for many reasons but how he has handled Shay has completely blown me out of the water. He takes her to pet school, works with her on her training, gets up with her in the morning (no small task for any college student) and he has done an unbelievable job with her.
And if I do say so myself, Shay is an awesome addition to our family. If you don’t believe me, just ask Cosmo.
She looks pretty happy to have a new friend and a new member of the Berkowitz household. Not like she’s going to share her SU blanket with just anyone.
So there you have it. It’s a classic tale. Just a boy and his dogs.