Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Chapter 1: The Mistake

Mrs Stoat, having last year consented to her husband's request that any dog they were to purchase should be a big, manly dog, finally got her wish: a small, easy to carry puppy that would fit in her handbag or snooze gently on her lap while she watched House, Glee, Bones, Grey's Anatomy, or NCIS, rather the way her husband wouldn't. The first dog, a strapping young horse-sized fellow, could neither fit into her purse nor onto her lap and cared not one whit for the drama of Meredith Grey's life nor the New Directions' reimagined renditions of formerly mediocre songs (though he did, like almost any other heterosexual man between the ages of eighteen to thirty four, find Olivia Wilde to be beyond hot).

Mr Stoat took his wife into the city and it was there they found the perfect little puppy. As soon as the puppy was is Mrs Stoat's arms, it immediately climbed her bosom and licked her chin excitedly. This, Mrs Stoat told her husband, is exactly what I was looking for. Mr Stoat, being a model husband, smiled at his wife and counted out the payment in crisp, new twenties.

The Stoats brought the puppy home in her little puppy box to meet the other dog, Toby. Despite their obvious size differences, the two immediately became fast friends. Mrs Stoat named her Stella (mostly for the benefit of Mr Stoat, who longed to stand at the front door and shout Stella! into the morning fog), and fastened around her neck a tiny pink collar with three plastic rhinestones. She set out some blankets in the crate to act as a bed and so that Stella's little toes wouldn't get cold on the plastic crate bottom. Mr Stoat taught Stella her name and fed her treats that smelled like old meat and ick. Toby followed Stella all over the house, licking her face and sniffing her ass.

One evening, when Mr Stoat was away on the business of drinking chemical-tasting macro-brewed beer under a bridge with the guys from the plant, Mrs Stoat's friend Ms House-Finch came by. Ms House-Finch and her boyfriend, Mr Lynx, were meeting Mr Stoat and his friends at the bridge to drink some variety of homemade paint-peeling clear alcohol known to occasionally make unwary sailors blind. Ms House-Finch had hoped that Mrs Stoat could watch Lily, Ms House-Finch's elderly dog. Lily was sick and on a special diet to help with her slow descent into renal failure, so Ms House-Finch was hesitant to leave her alone for the night. Being the total push-over she is, Mrs Stoat agreed, even though she was concerned about trying to look after a new puppy, a sick dog, and a monster Toby all at the same time.

Toby, hardly being out of puppyhood himself, wanted to play with Lily. Lily did not want to play with Toby. Lily wanted to sit at the water dish and drink all night and bark and snarl at anyone who tried to ask if maybe she had enough to drink already. Stella wanted to eat Toby's food and swing from his tail. The cats wanted to pack their bags and move to Tennessee.

By half past eleven that night, Mrs Stoat had grown tired of the barking and the growling and the whining. She had grown tired of the fights and the tussles. She wasn't particularly fond of taking the dogs outside in shifts so that they couldn't run off into the cold, dark forest. And she certainly didn't like trying to orchestrate meals so Toby and Stella didn't eat Lily's special renal diet, Stella didn't choke on Toby's Big Dog dog food, and the cats didn't steal Stella's puppy chow. She wanted Lily to go home and she wanted to find Stella's receipt. She wanted Toby to lay down and stop barking his face off at everything that moved.

The next day, when Mr Stoat returned home, Mrs Stoat told him about everything that happened. She cried. She told him she didn't want Stella anymore and that she never wanted to puppy-sit for anyone ever again. Mr Stoat held his wife and kissed her forehead. He asked if maybe the problem was that she didn't really want a puppy that needed to be trained, that maybe what she wanted was an adult dog who didn't pee with excitement. Tearfully, Mrs Stoat nodded her head.

"I have made a terrible mistake," Mrs Stoat said to her husband, dabbing her eye with a crumpled tissue. "I do not want a small dog. I can't take her for walks in the forest because the leaves are bigger than she is. I can't take her for rides in the car because she can become lodged under the pedals. I can't see her when I'm in the kitchen because she fits in nooks and crannies. She has eaten all of the plastic ends off all of my shoe laces."

Mrs Stoat cried for three days and hid in her house. She hardly checked Facebook at all. Mrs Stoat felt like she had failed Stella and that she couldn't provide a good home for a small dog. Mr Stoat, who was the most supportive and caring husband Mrs Stoat knew, helped his wife to write out an ad to put in the classifieds.

"You are not a failure," Mr Stoat told Mrs Stoat. "You recognized that we cannot properly care for a dog so small. Even if she is a good dog that sleeps at your feet and comes when called, we are not the right house for her. We will find her a new home, with a family to love her and cuddle her and cater to her every need. We will do the right thing for Stella and we will all be happy."

Mrs Stoat smiled at her husband and hugged him so tightly that he thought his eyes might pop out of his skull.

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