In 2001, as a scrawny 11-year-old with big glasses, crooked teeth and more doll-friends than human-friends, I knew one thing for certain: I wanted a dog.
And not just any dog. I wanted a Maltese. I had spent countless hours researching the breed online and became a little breed-expert. I knew their average lifespan was 12-14 years. I knew they would rarely grow to more than 10 pounds. And I knew that they were adorable and complete lap-dogs.
My demand for a pup was met with much resistance. Especially since I was asking for one that usually cost around $1,000.
Still, I was unrelenting in my quest. I created a sign that said something along the lines of, “I want a dog!” and marched around my kitchen chanting, “I want a dog!”
It was a very creative protest, FYI.
Soon, the adults who would be the primary dog-caregivers started to accept the idea.
Soon, a newspaper ad was found that said a litter was available in nearby Franklinville, NJ. [Aside: This was three years before we moved to Franklinville from Washington Township.]
Soon, I was picking out the second smallest pup from the bunch. And we were on our way home.
She was one pound. I named her Chloe after the Mary Kate & Ashley show So Little Time.
It didn’t take long for her to become my furry best bud. Since she was so small and fragile, she was crate trained (like a cat). She had the sweetest, craziest demeanor and she was just what the doctor ordered for this geeky girl.
As a pup, she’d run around in fast circles in pursuit of her toys. She became attached to her furry-dog toy (named “Taylor” for whatever reason).
She hated clothes. One time we tried to dress her up as a little Santa Claus, but the entire time the outfit was on her, she would not stop circling in an attempt to shed it.
She became a constant through my teenage angst. Through really hard times in my personal life. And through the good times. I was always proud to show her off to my friends. Aside from people in my extended family who never warmed up to her because she wasn’t a big dog, everyone loved her. I don’t know how you could have NOT loved her.
And she put up with me, her big, annoying sister, quite well.
Like that time when I tested my new tripod by including in her my very-cool steps photoshoot.
Or the many, many times when I insisted on not letting her go.
Or when I thought it would be cute to make an oddly intense montage of black and white photos.
Or when I literally held her hostage in my room as a 19-year-old so that I could talk on her behalf. She is a dog, by the way.
She even dealt with me casually gazing at her like a weirdo.
And taking pictures of her while she slept.
Sometimes she’d look really pissed off when I bugged her too much.
But I always knew she’d be right by my side as soon as I grabbed some turkey or cheese. Her favorites.
We spent a lot of time together. I even taught her how to type.
When I’d go away for long periods of time — North Carolina, Switzerland, Rowan U’s housing for a year — I’d write that I missed her so much.
And when I’d return, there she was. Elated and so very sweet.
She probably loved her toys more than me, actually.
Several months ago, she was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. Over time, she became more frail and slept more often.
I knew she made it to 14. The higher end of her expected lifespan. She had a full life that brimmed with pure love and squeaky toys. I thought I’d be okay when she passed. But it’s been more the opposite.
She was the one I could count on for a smile. She was the one I held after breakups and as I listened to fights out of my control. She was my fluffy rock.
And she was, and is, so very special to me.
Goodnight, sweet girl. Thank you for being mine.