Chapter 32. A dog affair

In 2008 my Westie got terrible sick. It did not happen while she was with me but it did happen literally overnight. The night she got sick she was with my friend Carol Fireston, a Jewish woman from one of those well known Philadelphian families.

Carol and I had met walking our dogs. I member that day perfectly. As I happened to have the cutest little female Westie in the world, it shocked me to see another equally good looking specimen in the neighborhood. Mr. Motto was his name and behind him, was Carol, one of the most elegant 70 year old women I had ever met. She was simply classy but casual at the same time. Her body language and verbal expression were the evidence that Carol had received an exquisite education. She was not casual at all, she seemed to have manners that most American women lack these days, but she wasn’t uptight either.

Our dogs inmediately fell in love, and so did we. When Carol and I started to talk I knew it was love at first sight. We immediately became friends and started to have doggie play dates surrounded by tea and great conversation.

Being her friend taught me a lot of things about life, art and business. Not so much about love given the fact that Carol was extremely practical when it came to love. Mr. Harris, her third husband, was pretty much always at work and she did not seem to be bothered by it. She did not pay too much attention to him either when he got home, but she was not rude to him by any means. She simply loved her life with or without him.

She used to say: “Art is the best possible present to ask for. It lasts forever and since each time you acquire a piece is a special moment, over the years, it helps you remember your life better. Do you see all those paintings my dear? (Her walls were all covered) Those paintings were offered to me by my three husbands. Each on a special occasion, Christmas, family trips, birthdays, anniversaries…Whenever I look at a piece I think of that moment of my life, what I was up to back then, what I was feeling, and I remember it vividly. So don’t ask for jewels, they can come to you anyways, see? when a man wants to offer them he does so without you asking. Instead, ask for art, an everlasting treasure that makes a house a home”.

Caral was special, and so was her mother, who lived upstairs and was 94 years old. She had worked as a fashion designer and was now looked after by a full time nurse and Carol herself. Due to her particular temperament, nurses would come and go every so often. One day, I was wearing a Banana Republic t-shirt that, like many t-shirts these days,  had the name of the brand on it. She said to me “Don’t wear that, you look like a billboard” and she was right. Certainly these were two insightful women ahead of their time.

Ever since Caral explained her present theory to me I have been collecting pieces of art myself.  I must say that she knew what she was saying. There is something about paintings and art pieces in general that bring you back in time to the moment of acquisition. As if it had been yesterday. I can remember the details of those days, if it was raining, where I had parked the car, if I had had tea or coffee…do not ask me why that is but it is.

Our dogs continued to play and we continued to talk and became better friends. I was amazed by Caral’s use of technology. At 70 years old, she was a retired publicist from NYC and from what I know, she was a true killer in the industry. She had that fast paced energy from someone who had lived in the the big apple many years. Yet, given her advanced age, I was supraised by how easily she would take in new technology, how she would set up and use the biggest Mac available in the market back then, with which she would restlessly draft a business plan and a website for her third husband,  triplicating the benefits of his dental office in less than a year. She loved making and spending money that is for sure.

Mr. Motto was also twice national Champion by the American Kennel Club. I am not sure if that contest pays well, but my Westie was dating a champion which is what most women wish for. That brought her toys, outfits, treats, training and even doggie massages. They had the fanciest treats and the best trainers in the tristate region coming to Carol´s house to educate them.

By the time she got sick she was about two and her insurance papers were already signed and sitting on my desk to be sent the following Monday. That weekend she vomited while Prince Charming and I were away and Carol had taken her to the animal hospital (just to be on the safe side). There, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was then refused health or treatment coverage from the insurance company, based on a pre-existing condition.

Upon learning the news, Carol extended a check to me and said “Let me handle this. I will keep her and pay for her treatment”. We said no, thank you, and went through financial trouble to pay for her medication until she recovered. Having a sick dog is like having a sick relative. It is exhausting, consuming and expensive. But our dog was young and won the battle.

Then our first son was born and another battle began. If anyone is wondering about breeds I must say something: don’t get terriers if you have small children, terriers like to be the center of attention, they will want to rule because they posess large amounts of self steem so when babies come along and demand too much attention they will hold it against you and make your life more difficult by acting stubborn.

Terriers don’t take second place, at least willingly. They are happy in a home where they get to be king or queen.

If you want a good family dog Golden Retriever sor a Labradors are great options.


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