Monday, April 29, 2013

Dude Looks Like a Matey

"Every day is a production. You wake up to produce that day." -Norman Lear

I never thought I would see the day. Ever. The day when two dogs were living in my house. I would have told you I had a better chance of owning an alligator than owning another dog. After all, I'm not really a dog person to begin with. Then again, I guess I can't say that anymore now, can I? Another dog was never even a consideration. Luna, it's been well documented, is my soul mate. How could I ever do that to her? Then I saw his face...

The best things in life come when you least expect them. They often only come if you take a chance. And they come for a reason you can't truly explain until life throws you a curveball and it becomes crystal clear. For it is without expectation or explanation, and with total spontaneity, that we adopted a one-eyed ten year-old shih tzu who is also a recent cancer survivor.

If you'd asked me why at the time, I would simply say, "Why not?" Sometimes that's the best answer. As a shih tzu owner lover, I know it takes a certain kind of person to own a spoiled boutique dog. Let's be honest. Chances are, those kinds of people don't adopt one-eyed boutique dogs with cancer. But I felt we were his only shot at a home. And I was incapable of saying no.

Why not? Why wouldn't we adopt this adorable, ridiculous, treasure-sniffing scalawag who is one part  Chris Farley and one part Dug from Up all at once? Fat guy in a little coat chasing a squirrel then hiding under the porch because he loves me.


Peanut's been all for it since the beginning. From the moment we decided to adopt him, she's made her best effort to get him to sleep in her room. And now he does. She calls him the "best puppy ever," like I call Luna. I'd be lying if I said that doesn't upset me. Luna is our first baby. So I'm very protective of her. But as My Director put it, Matey is truly Peanut's first dog. We chose Luna. She chose Matey.

Embracing Matey's defining characteristic.
The chance encounter that brought Matey to our family occurred on an otherwise routine day at work. He was on a popular morning cable news program that just so happens to air on the same family of networks as my moderately popular financial news program. I met him on my way into the control room for my show. He just so happened to be there in the hallway. Right place. Right time. This whole experience has taught me to live every day. To find the extraordinary within the routine. To expect the unexpected. Good or bad.

I was amazed at how easy-going and relaxed Matey was in this potentially stressful situation. All kinds of people, cameras, lights, and this dog with one eye was just laying in his handler's arms. Chillaxin. He didn't give a sh!t that he only had one eye. He was still gettin' it done. He inspired me.

The second I returned to my desk after the show, I called My Director. You could imagine her surprise when my first words were, "I met a one-eyed shih tzu this morning and I think we should adopt him."  In Matey I saw hope. I saw someone who's overcome obstacles. It wasn't until a later phone call with the shelter that we found out he also had cancer, and that his owners were going to put him down. If not for a neighbor who took him to the shelter instead and a vet who performed the surgery for free, this whole adventure never would have happened. That made me love him and want him even more. Matey is a symbol of perseverance in the face of adversity. Little did I know that his perseverance would serve a greater purpose...

A little more than 48 hours after Matey was finally home with us, I had to take Luna to the emergency vet. It was a Sunday night. The doctor took an x-ray to check for what she believed were bladder stones. She found the stones AND a tumor attached to Luna's spleen. I sat behind the reception desk on the phone with Luna's vet, sobbing and dry heaving with worry. Here I thought she was just going to need antibiotics. Turns out she needed a complicated double surgery to remove both problems, which had nothing to do with each other. We didn't know what the tumor was or what else it might be attached to. I thought our days with Luna were numbered. The simple act of writing those words make my heart ache and eyes swell.

Luna during recovery. She milked it.
Right after Luna's diagnosis, My Director questioned why this would happen. Why, if we're doing a good thing in giving Matey a home, would God then make Luna sick? I pondered her question. I don't think God made Luna sick. I think nature/science/life did. Then I came to the realization that the universe - God - sent us Matey to ease our minds and lift our spirits during Luna's time of uncertainty and recovery. It's funny, really. One of our reservations about adopting him involved worrying that he'd get sick again, and not being able to pay for it. It was a concern, not a deal breaker. And here, not two days into his life with us our healthy dog gets sick.

Over the nerve-racking week and a half that followed, Matey was a constant source of comic relief. He's 10 years-old. So I can attest to the adage about not teaching an old dog new tricks. This dog does not listen to a word I say. But he's still impossible not to love. I call him Chris Farley because he's such a mess. He's all over the place. A bull in a china shop. I took him to a mom-and-pop pet store in town as Luna was undergoing some tests one day. I wanted him to taste test some treats because he was rejecting the ones Luna likes. Not only did he reject every treat the store owner tried to give him, he proceeded to take a gigantic crap on her floor the minute I turned my back on him. Now I'm obligated to buy a bag of treats from this woman - treats that I know my dog won't eat - because my frat guy of a dog just took a dump on her carpet. Chris. Farley.

Matey also gave us faith. If a dog can make it this far with one eye, cancer, and no home, then we thought Luna had more than a fighter's chance. A week and a half after her surgery, Luna is pretty much back to normal. Her tumor biopsy came back benign. Thank God. A little tumor that cost us a lot of worry and a lot of money. (Luna is covered with pet insurance. She is, after all, a boutique dog. So that will cushion some of the blow from her surgery. It's obnoxiously expensive. They won't cover Matey for his pre-existing condition. Sounds like people insurance.)

There IS a hierarchy.
(Matey got a much-needed haircut.
He was gross.)
Through Matey, I hope to instill in Peanut not only a message of hope and of overcoming obstacles, but that everyone deserves love no matter what you look like on the outside. It's what's inside that counts. And what's inside Matey is pure love. He's a hugger, a snuggler, and a nuzzler. He's a goofball who can't see the toy you're trying to make him fetch if you throw it on the wrong side of his head. He's a lounger who already recognizes that the time I wake up in the morning is no time for any animal to be waking up, let alone going outside to pee. He ignores me every time except meal time. He barks at the new turtle statues we just put in the rock garden in the backyard. He knows not to bother Luna. For she is the queen.

Luna looks at him with displeasure, disappointment, and disgust as if to say, "Have some respect for yourself." She glares at him in disbelief that such a slob could be the same species, let alone the same breed as she. She's royalty and he's a joker. She's David Spade to his Chris Farley. They are an amazingly unintentionally entertaining comedy team.

I never thought I'd be the owner of two dogs. Now I couldn't imagine living without either of them. For a few days, we had to imagine our life without Luna. It was so very sad and empty. But she's back and better, living in our shih tzu sanctuary. Little do they know these two shih tzus ARE sanctuary.

Thank you to everyone at the Humane Society of New York for taking care of Matey, and helping us find him. If you would like to donate time, supplies, or money, or adopt a dog, visit their website HERE.


  1. In between tears and laughter this morning, I had to let you know this story touches my heart so much. Dogs enrich our lives in ways we can't even begin to describe. <3

    1. They certainly do... a constant source of entertainment and comfort. I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  2. Sometimes a story can step beyond itself, and, you have done that. Thank you. Nothing sings like the song of truth.

    1. Ya like how I did that? :-)

      I kept holding off on writing this because the story keep evolving. The Luna thing threw us for a loop, and I couldn't write something about Matey when Luna's fate was still up in the air. Long story short: a happy ending made for the best possible story.

      Thank you, friend.

  3. They are more than pets, more than dogs, they are members of the family. I'm beyond relieved that Luna is okay. She looks so much like our beloved Rags it is uncanny. And I am thrilled that Matey is making himself at home and fitting in so well. I look forward to many more humor filled blogs about this new journey.

    1. You can bet that more will come! Thanks for thinking of Luna.

  4. We weren't a "Dog Family" until we got a dog. We weren't a "Two Dog Family" until I begged for (and got) a second dog. We lost our first dog suddenly over Thanksgiving this past year. Now The Second Dog rules the roost. Matey is one lucky pup to have found you guys to love him. So happy Luna is okay.

    1. My mom even has a dog... and my dad used to say, "Why would we get a dog? I already have 4 animals." he was, of course, referring to his children.

  5. Ahoy Matey and welcome home...who knows maybe Luna and Matey will learn from each other! Looking forward to having them chillaxin with our Bella too! I hope you let me take both of them this summer for a real southern retreat! It's all the rage for boutique dogs! While it may just be one shihtzu over the cuckoo nest, we'll have them all exclaiming "I do declare, my iced tea is rather tepid" :-)

  6. Dogs are awesome. Especially the cute-ass, one-eyed, cancer surviving pirate types.

    1. Yes... those are particularly awesome. I agree. Except when I am physically carrying his sleep a$$ downstairs and outside to pee every morning.

  7. I think this is my favorite post you've written! "The best things in life come when you least expect them. They often only come if you take a chance. And they come for a reason you can't truly explain until life throws you a curveball and it becomes crystal clear." Words to live by!!


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