Those of you familiar with the movie called “The Prestige” will be familiar with the notion that every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge.” The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn.” The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige.”
I had wanted to have a dog for years. Anyone who is a dog lover understands this: unconditional love, always happy to see you, is happiest when they are in your company; and, the best part is, unlike the kids, they never talk back…well ,some don’t. So, on the second anniversary of my 22 birthday, my husband, who denies me nothing, surprises me by taking me to a pet store to get me, yes, a dog. I cannot tell you how touched I was, this was by far the greatest gift of Love I had ever received, especially because I knew owning a dog was not anywhere on my husband’s list of things that he wanted, he was doing this for me. The first pet store had only small dogs, and il Padrone wanted a dog large enough to protect me…awww, this is just getting better by the moment. In the second store, I am eyeing a cocker spaniel, mid sized, adorable, but Richard is now conversing with the sales person asking if they, “have any Labs?” Guess what? A puppy lab just came in, and has never been touched by anyone yet. So, we go into the viewing room and out comes this adorable little yellow bundle of love. OMG, I felt something akin to when I first saw the face of my children when they were born. I swaddle him in my arms swearing never to let him go, and $2,000.00 later we are on our way home with our new bundle of joy. I am proudly holding my new puppy and ring the doorbell of our home in order to surprise our youngest son, who has been asking for a dog FOREVER. “The Pledge,” something simple, something ordinary placed in front of you.
“The Turn,” taking something ordinary and making it extraordinary. Put your seat belts on, because this “turn,” changed the next 8 years of my life into a reality comedy. We work from our home, so I placed my new bundle of joy in a sort of playpen next to my desk. We were however working on a very big case which required very long hours of forensic accounting. Needless to say, a task which requires all of your attention — not attention interrupted by the need to cuddle your dog, or answer his whimpers. So new arrangements had to be made. I gated off the enclosed porch in our home and put my puppy there so he could have room to prance about and not get into any trouble, or so I thought. When I discovered the first hole he chewed in the wall, which went through the sheetrock and insulation I was panicked. I quickly rearranged the furniture so il Padrone would not notice it. The second hole required a little more creativity, and the third required full confession. As if this was not bad enough, our son James had now developed a strong sense of disdain for the dog, because I called the dog “my baby” when in fact, he, James, was “my baby.” Every day he would come home from school, Max and I would be there to greet him, and James would ask, “ When are you bringing ‘it’” back to where you got it?” To complicate matters more, we were out for dinner one night and James asked if I loved the dog more than him. In my mind, I answered this question, but it appears as though the words, “of course I love you more, you are and always will be my baby and I will Love you always; and, in all ways” never left my lips. Oops! I swear, I thought I said the words, but, even until this day, my son James reminds me of this faux pax.
For all it is worth, Max was crate trained, but after the fire, I decided this might not be a good idea. “What fire?”, you ask? It’s a long story, involving, Max’s aroma, an acrylic blanket and a Glade candle. Suffice it to say, you cannot put out a fire with a dixie cup of water, no matter how fast you run; candles are really not very safe; and, Max would eat anything. On that note, Max has a very gentle stomach, but that did not stop him from eating a pair of leather shoes from Italy, my favorite fur coat from Corleone, Sicily, not once but twice, the last time rendering the coat un-repairable, and a panoply of other various household and personal possessions. It was clear I needed some guidance, so I decided I would get a trainer. After 3 different trainers, one whom quit the profession after working with Max, the only thing that was better was the pronged collar which enabled me to walk him, instead of him walking me.
Time goes by quickly, and before I knew it, my puppy was full grown, and truly a fine specimen of canine, he was soooo handsome. As the proud owner of a beauty such as Max, I went to a Lab owner’s site to see if I could breed Max and create more beautiful, if not obedient, puppies. To my surprise, looks carry very little weight in the dog breeding world. It’s all about accomplishments, blue ribbons, and contests won. No one takes into account eating a dozen meatballs in under 5 seconds; or, being able to do 10 victory laps around the dining room without getting caught. They don’t even factor in the high monetary value of things destroyed by only one dog, go figure. Just as a side note, one of Max’s victory laps caused our Murano lamps to go crashing to the floor, breaking into enough pieces to make a lovely mosaic something, someday.
As all of this is going on, the one positive thing which is developing is that James is starting to like Max, as he put it, “Max gets into so much trouble he makes me look good!” Now remember, we are in the “turn,” I am looking for the secret, the secret to having the dog of my dreams, but will I find it? Well, we are still working on making the ordinary extraordinary. Like an ordinary walk where Max spots a husky he wants to bond with and the only thing which stops me from flying all the way to the huskie is the alternate street parking sign, extraordinary. What about Richard and I soaking in the hot tub, ordinary, Max joining us, extraordinary. Max jumping to catch a fly ball, ordinary, spraining his ankle doing it, extraordinary. Yet, through all of this, I still looked at him as a gift of love. I will admit that there were moments where I thought, “hmm, we had granite steps installed, I was given Max and then my husband took out a healthy life insurance policy on my life, am I sure this was as it appeared, a gift of Love? Nah, just a moment of delirium.”
Now for the final portion of the “turn.” My baby, James, not Max gets married and moves to Pennsylvania. He wants to take “his dog” with him. I look at my puppy who is now 8 years old, and think, “maybe I should let him go?” It would be like retiring in the country. He has to this point in his life always been tethered because of his total untrustworthiness. It would be nice if he could run through the field, and James would have the company of Max. With tears in my eyes and a truly aching heart I watch James and his new wife take Max to be a country dog.
If you watched the movie “The Prestige”, you would know, that the canary in the magic trick is actually killed and the canary that comes back is a body double. Don’t panic, Max was not killed, just relocated, but here comes the “Mo-stige.” I, after some time adjust to not soaking Max’s feet in oatmeal baths, cleaning his ears, moisturizing his dry skin with a hydrating mist and walking him at 3 a.m. in the morning when he has an upset stomach, begin to think, maybe it’s better not to have a dog — it gives me and my husband the freedom to do whatever, whenever. In a cruel twist of fate, my ex-husband falls and breaks his leg. He is the proud owner of a dog, my son Eddie acquired in college and for various and sundry reasons gave to his father. Eddie, stepping up to the plate to assist his dad, takes “Jenny” in with him and his better-half, Rachel. They are two young socially active people happily residing in an apartment. I am asked if I could watch Jenny for a week because of business and social engagements which will prohibit them from tending to Jenny’s needs. Knowing Jenny from when she was a puppy, and missing my dog, I happily agree.
For reasons which have more to do with me, I have now had Jenny for 3 months. This dog is what my husband meant to give me. She licks the tears from my face when I cry (as I still miss my mom very much) and follows me wherever I go. She is free to wander the house because she does not have a destructive bone in her body. She carries her doll around with her and talks to it — no, really, she talks to it. She has soulful eyes, and is gentle and obedient. She never eats the food from the table, and can catch any donations of food in a single gulp. She has brought pleasure to my life that I find difficult to describe. But today, my ex-husband is having the pins taken out of his broken leg and anticipates picking up Jenny in a few days. So, in the interest of a happy ending to this story, “anybody have a body double for this dog?”