I did not ask Kelly for permission to write this publicly, and, here we go already: I don’t give a fuck. She can deal with it. This ain’t nothin’ to Kelly. I mean, she’s watched me eat fried crickets. And they were delicious!
It was 5:30 AM. I was getting Dressed to Impress for my new puppy, as one does — you can’t meet your new puppy in dirty, mustard-stained pajamas, and pay attention to inappropriate clothing since the Internet has its pearls clutched so hard that they will leave comments like this on an outfit that you choose to wear because you love your own body and are comfortable inside it:
“If you’re in your forties and an inch of lace-covered skin is all that prevents your vagina from hanging out at the grocery store, the smell of desperation really becomes a stench.”
Wasn’t thought so thoughtful. Anonymity is fun! And, hell, yes. I chose it because it was totally inappropriate. Stench is my trademarked brand of crazy. Fucken duh.
I have several suggestions for bodysuits that will expose all of your side boob and nipples, hit me up for details — and that morning as I was applying part of my eye makeup I realized, oh my god. I keep saying I don’t believe in this shit, but goddamn. Coco nudged me toward this puppy. She shoved me straight at her. I told you Coco was waiting for the right time and the right dog. And WHOA. Coco must have been studying my writing because it was more dramatic than anything I’ve ever written. And I haven’t even written about the pictures I have on my phone! Calm down, Coco, or you’re going to get several subreddits dedicated to you. ABOUT YOU BEING A WHORE.
(Oh, my. My, what the Internet doesn’t know. Lauren? You there. I’m waving at you so we can laugh about this together. Evangelical Christian Crispin Glover Cupcakes, so good. So good.)
Coco has forgiven me. I know this. I did not ever realize how much I desperately loved her when she was alive and it did not faze her love for me. And she she knew that this particular dog is the one with whom I can do better.
Coco possessed Kelly’s soul. She loved me despite me. Coco was the constant Kelly at my side. I made the connection that morning. She loved and gave and continues to give. In the exact way that Kelly does and always will.
I was adamant that we were not ever going to get a puppy. NOPE. NEVER AGAIN. Let me repeat that: NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER AGAIN. Puppies are worse than babies (babies suck). Puppies are more horrible than BYU (you can’t report getting raped at BYU because they will put you on academic probation, YEP, HERE I AM! HEATHER SHOWED UP! THE MORMONS ARE COMING FOR ME!). And I was not ever going to live through a puppy again. We’ve talked and talked as a family about what a new dog would be like, what we wanted most. And those conversations veered all over the place. THESE KIDS ARE ON DRUGS. I need to stop giving them my edibles! But the blueberry gummies are delicious. What to do.
Maybe we should just get a tortoise? Maybe an owl? I won’t mention who suggested we bring home a jellyfish — you can guess but you’d be wrong, it’s been that wild. What if we farmed hedgehogs? Nocturnal shitfest hedgehogs? Y’all. These kids are snorting blueberry gummies. NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THEIR EMPTY SOULS agreed to adopt a hippopotamus. Whatever, losers.
But then… Pete and I kept seeing Golden Retrievers and Yellow Labs everywhere. Online, on the sidewalk, no less than 10 of them on the way we drive the girls to school. And all the videos and memes of Golden Retrievers and Yellow Labs, holy god. We were passing them back and forth, so many every day. Was Coco pointing us in that direction? Why not a hippopotamus, Coco? WHY? Whatever, Coco. I wanted a hippo. You heartless, lovely, best dog who ever lived.
And then one morning after I had taken the girls to school to let Pete sleep in, he and I were getting ready for the day, meaning BRACING FOR POSSIBLE ARMAGEDDON ALWAYS AND ALWAYS and, hoo! We did not know that joking about such a thing would actually bring it about. Sorry, everyone!
I mean. Several people have accused us of infecting the entire state of Utah with COVID-19, so we don’t mind taking the blame. We are also responsible for rabies, your urinary tract infection, that whole diabolical LMFAO party rocking all night ear worm that entered your brain and ate your cortex, and sorry. We are so, so sorry. You see, we are the reason your dad doesn’t love you and treats you as the ugly one. You kinda are.
Pete was finishing a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats — this detail is important because I say so, he and Leta go through bulk boxes as if they are tiny packages of pretzels you get on a Delta flight that costs you $3000 and oh, THANKS FOR THE SEVEN PRETZELS, don’t they owe you a full-body massage and a thorough hand job for that price? SORRY, MOM, but I know you are nodding! — while I took my established standing position at the island in the kitchen: my foot perched on a stool as I glanced at email on my laptop. And someone had sent me a video of a Yellow Lab sleeping on someone’s back as he did pushups. I said, “Welp! There’s another one! Hi, Coco! We hear you!” And Pete rolled his eyes and jokingly said, “Well, woman (yes, he calls me WOMAN and I do not ever want him to stop), go to that website that finds rescue dogs and look for one if that’s what you feel!”
The mistakes men make. Is that the story of the history of the world?
Oh, how he regrets ever encouraging my gut instinct. Because it is never wrong. And it is fierce. It smizes.
I pulled up the website that scours for rescue dogs in your area. And I searched for “Golden Retrievers” and “Yellow Labs”.
Dirk Digler on a dick skin.
The ones we found near Salt Lake City were right fucking insane. Wild-ass mob bosses. You could see it in their eyes. They were “may maul your children and turn all their toys into Voodoo dolls” or “bite elderly people who have opinions” or “will kill you in your sleep and eat your dead flesh while dancing with flower petals draped around their necks.”
We won’t discuss their pubic hair rituals. Children are near.
I casually pronounced, “It is not time!” Because I did not want to end up gored to death and have my skeleton draped inside a bear carcass.
And then… well, shit. I leisurely went back to the homepage of that website… and… AND… are you… what? WHAT.
The first picture on the site was a picture of a puppy. The first picture. She was listed with a name of “Birget”. A stray Australian Shepherd mix who was very, very pregnant had been dropped off at a rescue shelter. She had six puppies. Birget was one of four girls. Birget’s bio included the line, “Our father is a man of mystery but we think he’s a Husky because we inherited some of his flare.”
Now, “our father is a man of mystery” is a phrase I would totally write. I laughed out loud. Pete asked me why I was laughing and I said, “There is an adorable rescue puppy listed here and they don’t know what kind of dog the father is and whoever wrote the bio needs to be my friend and come over and share some wine except QUARANTINE. SORRY WE CAUSED IT.”
Oh, hey, you. You over there. Did you develop symptoms? No? Hmm. Hmm. Guess who did?! PRINCE CHARLES. Pete gave it to him.
Sure did. They had tea on a train platform in Hackney surrounded by international football fans. Thing is? Prince Charles calls often to make sure Pete is okay. My god, Diana really did have an impact on Charles’ mood.
NOW HEAR ME: I am not joking about people who have seriously developed symptoms. I am genuinely concerned for those people. I care about you and you and you. I CARE ABOUT YOU. I know you are scared. You’re terrified. I am so sorry you are feeling this way. I wish I could make it vanish. This is such a frightening time.
I am just so done with the endless bullshit and straight out lies being spread about our “reckless” travel to London (SO SCANDALOUS!) that does nothing but create hysteria and scatter misinformation. I know you hate me, there is no need to cause panic in others because you hate me. Just hate me and go with that. You’re in very healthy company who have a lot of time on their hands. Oh, to be so carefree! Can you imagine having free time?
“What’s its name,” Pete asked as he got up to fill a glass of water.
“HER name is… I think I should pronounce it BER-GET,” I answered.
As he finished filling his glass he turned around, leaned against the countertop next to the kitchen sink and asked how it was spelled. When I told him he paused… paused again… and then he corrected me with an interesting look on his face and a barely noticeable sway of his body.
“It’s pronounced BEER-GIT.”
The pauses are what made the hair stand straight out from my skin. That and the look on his face. It was like a memory had washed over him and he had to steady himself with the significance of it. He will probably deny this, and I don’t care. I know what I saw.
“Okay, you paused,” I said. He paused twice. And swayed ever so slightly. “And you would know this how?” I asked.
“My mother’s best friend from Denmark,” he said. “Her name was Birgit.” And then he stood there thinking about it without providing any further information.
Okay. Hello. Hi. Hej!
Billy Bob Thornton bonker balls.
To explain why a lighting bolt shot up through my feet and straight into my skull and lit me on fire — why Coco chose that direction in my body, I don’t know, maybe she’s upside-down or maybe she’s drunk, she can do whatever she wants while she waits for the right dog JUST DON’T VAPE ANY THC YOU BOUGHT ON THE CORNER NEXT TO 7-11 OKAY, COCO? And self-distance. And no porn. (kidding about the porn, indulge)
Pete’s mother immigrated to America from Denmark when she was 20 years old. Her best friend’s name from Denmark was Birgit.
This dog is part Australian Shepherd mix. And they named her Birget.
Chief Technology Officer Margrethe Josephine Birget Kierkegaard Rask
Also known as:
“Bergdorf Good Dog”
“Berg a lerg a ding dong”
For reasons I will not explain, whenever she needs to be disciplined quickly with a word, she will be called, “RANGER!” That’s my brother’s name and he deserves it. And he will relish it. He will read this and cackle so hard knowing I am crate training a PUPPY and as wonderful as she is — can I just tell you how wonderful? She is thoughtful and pensive, but oh so playful. She gnaws only a teeny bit, so gently, just enough to say, “I know I am supposed to get over this soon, but it was nice to gnaw when I could.”
She is using a grass pee pad with a moderate success rate already. We taught her “sit” and “down” the first few hours she was in our home (we are teaching her in both English and Danish). She chooses someone’s feet on which to rest her head and fall asleep. SHE HAS CHOSEN MINE THE MOST. MINE. SHE CHOOSES ME. She learned to walk on a leash within five minutes. She has natural eyeliner and white designer strokes tracing the very tip of her ears. She is divinely beautiful.
She is gentle and loving and not afraid. She is brave and social and mastered all of the stairs in this house within an hour, and goddammit. GODDAMMIT, COCO. I am trying to get over my guilt. So much guilt. That night after her death when I curled into a ball where she had died in my arms… I did not know how much I had loved her. I loved her from the sacred source of my soul. I did not know that she was taking care of me more than she was taking care of anyone else. And I felt so ashamed.
She knows that shame is not a useful emotion in which to linger, and I felt it when she told me she had nothing to forgive. I don’t believe in this shit and here I am believing in this shit. She nudged me — no, SHE THREW ME OVER A CLIFF INTO THE RAGING FLAMES OF THIS DOG. Here, she has said. Here, this dog, here you can overcome that night. Birget is the work you have to do.
And, dear lord. Coco is in cahoots with my therapist. And Kelly. She and Kelly are texting! STOP IT KELLY. PUT DOWN THE PHONE.
Get ready for the ride of a lifetime.
I have saddled Birgie with a lot of my baggage. I will admit that and be upfront that she really is the metaphor for the work I have to do, in the world and in myself. But I think Coco knew she was the one who could carry it and then help me release it.
And, oh. RANGER! He will be gleeful that his name will be yelled at a puppy chewing on cords because he’s not the one up at 3AM trying to get A PUPPY used to her crate. He doesn’t communicate much but I expect a text within hours that says, “Bite ‘em in the ass, Frankenberger.”