I wake up to a very wet nose pressed against my cheek and small whimpering sounds that even in my half-awake state I knew were the sounds of hunger. I peel one eye open and find my sweetheart, my precious baby, Yuki, trying to wake me up to go fill her bowl. I fully wake up and sit, pulling her into my lap and she proceeds to lick my face as her way of saying good morning. Yuki looks at me and wags her tail, and I can’t help but coo at her. She is half-Pomeranian and half-something else the adoption center couldn’t figure out. I don’t really care about her breed, she’s adorable either which way.
I finally give in to her pleas and fix her breakfast while I brew my coffee. Today’s a Sunday, so I am not hurrying around my kitchen trying to make breakfast and lunch at the same time. As I pour the hot water into the French press, I say out loud, “Yuki?” She looks up from her bowl. “Do you want to go for a walk after?” I know she’s a dog and she won’t understand the whole question, but she does recognize the word “walk”, so her ears perk up and her tail wags in happiness as she yips.
As she dives back into her food again, I can’t help but smile and feel my whole heart expand in happiness for this small, fluffy creature. And to think a year ago, I couldn’t imagine having a pet because I was never a “pet person”. It is quite a story, actually…
A year and some months ago, I was stuck in a job I didn’t want and a relationship that was slowly disintegrating. I felt like I was being stretched too thin, at work and in my personal life at that point, and the day began as usual. First, I opened my chat to see if my boyfriend had even texted me back after our massive fight last night. Like always, I apologized first and he hadn’t replied. I felt dejected and I wanted to cry but I reminded myself that I shouldn’t start my day with crying, so I forced myself awake.
Nothing much was different in the drudgery at work and I still received no text. I was feeling more and more morose by the minute. I just wanted to place my head on the desk, close my eyes, and shut the whole world out. My supervisor wanted revisions, my boss didn’t want to listen to my suggestions, and my colleague managed to make another error in a report that was somehow my fault again. I was annoyed, and now, I was ready to have a meltdown due to sheer frustration.
My boyfriend finally texted back during lunch hour. He simply said, “We need to talk”. Even though it was in text and not voice, I sensed a finality in those words and it terrified me. I asked him if he wanted to meet me and when he agreed, we decided to go for dinner together. I knew immediately that nothing good was going to come out of this. I felt like this was it—the end of it all. And funnily, in a way, despite the knot in my stomach, I was ready for it. This was going to happen anyway.
So, by the time dinner came along, I headed to our favorite restaurant. He was sitting there, scrolling on his mobile phone. He looked up and his smile was tight and he looked like he rather be anywhere than here (couldn’t blame him for that because I was feeling the same). We made small talk till the aperitif arrived. Then, with a sigh, he finally started, “I think, I think, this isn’t working at all.”
I took a huge gulp of my drink and swallowed, taking the pause as I tried to collect myself. Even though I was prepared, sitting here and taking in those words after four years of being together, I felt like the sky was crashing down on me. I traced the rim of my glass and nodded, “You’re right.”
Needless to say, we didn’t move on to the main course and we said our final goodbyes. As if I was stuck in some movie, as I waited for my taxi, the sky truly ripped open and rain poured down like it was no tomorrow. I laughed at first, the whole melodrama of it, and then, I started crying. And I couldn’t stop. I gave up trying to get a taxi and started walking, finally letting the end settle in.
The rain soaked my clothes in seconds, and it seeped into my bones, chilling me inside out. As I walked down the promenade, most shops were closing down or already closed. I finally stopped in front of one that was still open. The soft yellow light spilled on the wet pavement and even the door to the shop was open. I frowned, wondering what this place was, especially with the empty cages behind the display window. I looked up and saw the name of the shop. It was a pet food and toy shop that also lets you adopt dogs and cats.
I was never much of a pet person, never had one, never understood the great thing about having an animal to care for. But for some strange reason, I walked inside.
Perhaps I only wanted to seek shelter, but I walked into the shop anyway. The door was open, so I thought they were still in business and maybe they won’t mind me taking cover from the rain. It was warm and dry inside and had one employee, who was sitting in a pen surrounded by puppies of different colors, shapes, and sizes. She looked up when my wet flats made squelching sounds on the floor. I raised my hand and smiled, “I’m just waiting for the rain to stop, I hope you don’t mind.”
She smiled, “Oh no, come inside. I was going to close shop as well, but I too am waiting for the rain to stop.”
I smiled back, or tried to. I inched closer and peered in; she had three dogs snoozing in her lap while three other dogs were also sleeping around her. I don’t know much about dogs but I did recognize one as some strange Labrador mix. Staring at the asleep puppy, I thought they are rather adorable. The employee asked, “Do you have a dog, ma’am?”
“No, I don’t have any pets, never had any,” I said.
One of the small dogs on her lap woke up and raised its head. It climbed down her lap and shuffled towards me. I widened my eyes, wondering what I am supposed to do when it started butting my head on my ankle. The employee chuckled, “I think she wants some pets. You can touch her, puppies like contact.”
I nodded, still amazed at what was happening. Dogs don’t just approach me and I don’t try to approach them, so I sat down and let the dog climb on my lap. She makes small yipping noises and even licks my fingers. I suddenly end up smiling and even my pain feels like it was lessening as the small ball of fluff nuzzles into my palm. I said, my voice strangely choked up, “What’s her name?”
“We call her Yuki.”
“That’s Japanese for snow, right?”
The employee chuckled, “Yes!” She looked at the pup and her smile softened, “I think she likes you. Have you ever thought about adopting?”
I shook my head, the other woman continued, “Well, why don’t you come here tomorrow? She seems to like you and she could do with a home.”
I looked at the employee and the puppy had started to droop in sleepiness against my thigh. The little thing was warmer than anything and I looked down at her next, feeling the warmth seep into my heart as well. I slowly said, “I will think about it, thank you.”
I get her leash out and she is now running around my legs, highly excited. I laugh at her overeagerness and head out of the door for our walk. My friends were very surprised when I adopted Yuki. And so was I, to be honest. Puppies are just bundles of energy and love and they do not know when to stop.
I had to puppy-proof my apartment and had to say goodbye to some shoes, but looking back, I am so glad I walked into that store that night.
If I didn’t have Yuki, I would have let the heartbreak consume me whole. She gave me another reason to go on. I quit my job, found another that I liked and haven’t thought about my ex in forever. Maybe she doesn’t know but I do know that I love this little animal and without her, I wonder where I would be now. It was perhaps kismet or a pure accident, I am forever thankful to Yuki.
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