On a cool February morning back in 2005, Mike told me that he had a surprise for me, and we had to go “pick it out” that afternoon. I had no idea what it could be, but I was beside myself trying to figure it out. The time dragged by, but finally 1pm came around and we were in the car. As we went up the 405 and then changed to the 118 freeway, I could not figure out what we were going or what we were doing. We pulled up in front of a ranch house in Simi Valley, and he said, “We’re here!” I was like, wuh? Then he said, “We have to go in and pick out your present!” I could not have been more puzzled.
The house had a tall wooden fence around the entire property and no discernible way to get inside it. It was more secure than Fort Knox. Mike announced into the air, “Mike Spohr is here!” and a woman’s disembodied voice said, “come on in!” and the fence slid open just enough to let us in. After I walked through the fence it closed quickly. I started to think that maybe he was buying me pot.
Yard was good sized if not a bit run-down, and there were two small white dogs in homemade pens off to the side. One of the dogs was going NUTS, which totally spooked me. An older woman greeted us that the door and said, “MIKE! HELLO! So good to see you!” I looked quizzically at Mike, but he greeted her back and went right into the house. Now I was starting to think maybe Mike was taking me to join a cult.
We walked into the house, and I immediately started looking at my surroundings, trying to figure out what the hell was going on. The woman said, “Here they are!” and pointed to my left. I turned, and I saw two teeny tiny white puppies in a play pen. I looked at the woman, then I looked at Mike, and they were both grinning. “Surprise!!! One of these puppies is yours!” I might have screamed. I looked at the two dogs, but MY dog was the one that looked back at me. I picked her up and knew she was the dog I’d always dreamed about.
I had wanted a dog for, oh, forever. Growing up, my brother and I had always wanted a dog but it wasn’t in the cards. My dad is allergic to them, and I am allergic to cats, so we were doomed to birds and fish for pets. When I moved to New York, my dog lust kicked into high gear. There are little dogs there EVERYWHERE. Living by myself, I really wanted a little critter to come home to every day. But, the flip side of it was that I lived alone – that would have been really unfair to the dog. When I would have a bad day at work in NYC, I would always walk by this one pet store on Lexington to look at the puppies. Of course, when I was in front of the pet store, I would call Mike and tell him about every single one of them. So it was no surprise to him that when I moved back to California, my doggie fever kicked into high gear. He agreed that we should get a dog, but I didn’t think it would be only a few months after I moved in.
She didn’t know how to do anything when we first brought her home. I had to teach her how to go up and down the two steps we have in our house. She used to be afraid of them, but after I worked with her she was soon bounding up and down them every chance she got. She was amazingly affectionate and cuddly. She loved to lick Mike’s face, and probably would have spent hours licking his cheeks if he’d let her.
She was born on the same day that our nephew was born, so we told Mike’s parents that they had to say they had TWO grandchildren (they, uh, never did that. Party poopers.). We joked to a lot of people that she was our practice baby. Although, looking back, she really was. Rigby taught us responsibility. We had to get home at decent hours. We had to teach her how to walk on a leash, and go to the bathroom outside. We had to think of her when we made plans to do something. Sometimes it was a pain to have to take the dog into consideration, but now that I look back, I see how beneficial it was. It would have been a very abrupt change for us to go from rock and rolling all night and sleeping all day to NEVER SLEEPING EVER.
Rigby made Mike and me ready to be Madeline’s parents. If we hadn’t had our four-legged puppy, I doubt we would have felt prepared enough to become parents to a two-legged baby. Rigby helped Mike and me become more responsible, loving, and generous. I’m looking forward to seeing how Rigby makes Maddie a better person, too.