It was serendipity. Buying a dog couldn’t have been further from my mind until I saw The Pointy-Eared Beast, which was a diminutive French Bulldog about 3 months old. He was tiny, probably the runt of the family, but he ripped into the toy and chased it around like he was a black and brown Tasmanian Devil. There was a peach-white colored Frenchie in there too, desperately trying to get some time with the play thing. We later learned that this was The PEB’s sister, and he reared up to shove her across the pen whenever she got too close.
He was clearly a little monster, and I just had to have him.
I’ve always had a penchant for flat-faced dogs, and loved our former Boston Terrier companion — whom we’ll call Googly Eyes — so dearly that almost decade after his death I still couldn’t bring myself to find another pet for our family, as if that were some sort of betrayal to Googly Eyes’ memory. There was also the fear that Googly Eyes had set the bar so high that no other dog could reach it.
Googly Eyes was unassuming, quiet and so intelligent you’d sometimes forget he was a dog. He could open doors, understand dozens of words in three different languages, played soccer, and warbled along with the street vendors whenever he heard the echo of their horns from outside.
There couldn’t possibly be another canine that could match his genius.
But not being able to think about anything else for the rest of the day other than the furry madness I saw in the pet shop window, I knew I just had to take home The PEB before someone else did.
I went back the next day. When he was brought out to meet me, he was not quite as beast-like as before. While most puppies squirm when they’re picked up, The PEB was stock-still as I turned him toward me, his eyes quietly regarding my face as if to say, “What the hell do you want?”
My mom, who was accompanying me on this momentous occasion, said, “He has no idea how much his life is going to change.”
The monetary transaction required in the business of acquiring a pet was settled faster than I thought it would take. Any attempts at haggling with the shopkeeper to lower the price were immediately shot down — she knew a sucker for a Frenchie when she saw one.
Within a few minutes I was carrying the The PEB to the car, and once inside he buried his head in my lap as if overwhelmed by the world. Suddenly he was asleep, or pretending to be. I could feel him radiating contempt for me for taking him away from his pet store home, and also for not bringing along his sister. The two of them together would’ve made a fine pair; black and white like goofy-looking chess pieces. Sadly we were only financially and spatially capable of accommodating one.
I didn’t get a good look at The PEB in his entirety until I set him down on the floor of our home to roam around. He looked like a small alien against all that big furniture. He tentatively explored his surroundings in a shuffling gait like he hadn’t quite mastered how to bend his knees. His head was also looked enormous on top of his skinny body that was all joints, limbs and very little flesh. His ears stood out from the top like big fuzzy radar dishes, twisting independently of each other as he tilted his head upwards and turned it left and right, like he was using it to tune into a radio station.
Against the rules of every dog-training book ever written, I dropped The PEB onto my bed, where after pawing the sheets, he looked up at me in utter surprise. Suddenly he pounced. Then pounced again, hard. Then again, even more forcefully. He had just discovered the joy of attacking the down comforter -- a game he unfortunately never outgrew as he got bigger and acquired stronger claws.
Then almost as if he was hit by fit of narcolepsy, The PEB gleefully bellyflopped onto one particularly large satin hill, lay down his head, and went soundly to sleep.