Finding Comfort In Dogs When The Country Isn’t Going The Way You’d Like It To

07.17.17 9 months ago 3 Comments

zandy hartig

I adopted the puppy on Donald Trump’s Inauguration Day. I put in the application at 3 p.m. and brought her home the next Friday. I had been thinking about adopting or buying a dog for a while — my kids had been begging for at least two years — but I’d put it off.

“I already have two babies,” I told myself. “The kids are too young to share responsibility. It’s not fair to bring a little life home when I’m not sure I can take of myself. I have enough poop in my life.”

On that dark day, however, I found myself doing errands, driving around in a fugue state, which I’d been in since the election results started to turn away from sanity. Telling my kids — in particular my nine year-old, who had come crying to me two months earlier, scared Trump would become President (I assured him he absolutely wouldn’t) — that Trump had won was worse than when their dad and I told them we were getting divorced.

I could hold it together around them but it was harder to do when I was alone. I couldn’t work myself out of my funk. I’d wake up in the middle of the night thinking, and sometimes saying out loud, “Oh my god. Trump is going to be President of the United States.”

* * *

You have to understand, I grew up in New York City in the 1980’s. It was a parent’s job to instill in their kids a profound disgust of Donald J. Trump. And my parents did their job well. We all could see he was a buffoon, a barbarian at the gate; arrogant, mendacious, tasteless, mean, petty, self-obsessed. A vengeful, fraudulent joke. The New York elites wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. They might be racist and acquisitive themselves, but they did it quietly. Being showy was déclassé. He was a pariah and he knew it. He wanted their approval, but also hated these discreet assholes for thinking they were better than him. This is a long way of saying that, like most sane people, New Yorkers couldn’t believe his national popularity. And we certainly couldn’t believe he bamboozled the Electoral College and won. It was baffling to the point of vertigo.

These thoughts, coupled with burgeoning depression, raced through my mind as I drove north on La Cienega in Los Angeles. That’s when I happened to see Spot Animal Rescue. I made the most dangerous U-turn of my driving life, parked illegally, and rushed inside.

“Do you have any puppies for adoption right now?” I asked, with maybe too much desperation.

They had just received a new litter: five sisters, half chihuahua, half poodle. They looked like neither. They were adorable. In fact, they looked perfect, as most puppies do. I fell in love with all of them.

It took an hour of playing with them — not a painful job — to figure out which puppy would be mine: a sleek, black and white girl with white socks and a patch of white on her nose. She was funny, bright, and playful, but calmed down immediately when I held her in my arms.

I filled out an application. When I got in my car to go home, I felt a lightness and a sense of hope I didn’t have before I walked into that shelter. I had potentially good news and a video of the puppy to show to my kids. I was optimistic for the first time in months. Something to look forward to. One hour had vanquished a good measure of my depression.

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