I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying: Philip Larkin!

posted in: Family, Philip Larkin 23
Can you tell I'm crying? I'm crying. Photo: Sophie Lucido Johnson.
Can you tell I’m crying? I’m crying. Photo: Sophie Lucido Johnson.


I spent a good deal of the day recuperating, which was smart. Then, late in the afternoon, motivated by a number of deep-seated needs, I put on my sandals and my favorite blue- and white-striped shirt and ventured north to a pet store. A tiny puppy pet store. 

I went to pet little puppies. Remember Philip Larkin? Me, too.

I’ve been researching. A lot. I’ve been emailing breeders across the state, breeders all the way into Iowa, looking for people who are handling these lil’ pups right. I have been combing the Midwest for highly-rated, respectable breeders who safely and humanely breed Teacup Maltipoos. Because Philip Larkin is my dream dog. I dream of Philip Larkin a lot right now. I even have a YouTube playlist with videos of the kind of puppy I love. I watched those videos last night! It’s getting intense.

Please know that I understand why some may raise an eyebrow at my “designer dog” desires. Some good people will surely press me to consider a rescue animal instead of what’s considered a “boutique” dog. I get it, absolutely. I’ve been thinking about a dog for some time, now, as you may know. Those who support and participate in rescue animal adoption are people I respect very much and admire very much. The rescue pet owners I know — including Sophie and my sister Rebecca and Dave, my older sister’s roommate (aka, my “brother-from-another-mother” who is a legit Broadway star!) are people I respect and admire for their animal rescue efforts and rescue animal success stories. I love them and I have loved/currently love their pets.

For me, though, there’s a specific breed that will work for my life right now. It has to do with health needs, work, my travel demands, and my living space, all of which impact the animal’s quality of life and the owner’s life, too. The way I figure, whether it’s an adoption or a purchase, a person who really, really wants a lil’ pup really, really wants to give that pup a loving home, an not everyone’s path is the same. If I sound defensive it’s because I am: There are dogs that need homes but who I can’t adopt right now for a lot of real reasons. Just because that’s true doesn’t mean I don’t feel bad about it. I looked at the sweetest dogs today and they cost money to take home; rescue animals would give anything to be taken home tonight. I don’t know what to do with those emotions. I don’t.

What I know is that when Sophie walked into the place, I had been petting this particular puppy for about 10 minutes and had started to cry because I loved that little creature so much. Soph walked up to the petting area and when she said, “Mary! Hi!”, I looked up and my face was all wet. (Can you tell in the picture? It’s a little like this one, in which I am also crying and also Sophie took it so what’s up with that, Sophie??) Everyone in the puppy-petting area looked at me, a crying weirdo, and I felt silly but also not silly at all. The place was basically women petting puppies; I think they got it.

There’s a lot more prep to do if I want to really have a doggie; there’s a lot more research to do and money put aside. But the venture out today, the move from video to real-life puppy was a big deal. I petted three puppies. They all broke my heart in the best way.

23 Responses

  1. Karen
    | Reply

    Mary, I do understand where you’re coming from and your needs. When the time is right for you, bring home the puppy that will fit your heart and lifestyle. You shouldn’t have to explain to anyone.

  2. Judy Forkner
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    I understand, Mary. We got a Sheltie after our rescue dog died. We are not getting any younger & our last dog weighed 60 pounds & you can’t get into our house without climbing up 9 steps. The last few months of her life, she had to be carried up those steps. I couldn’t do it–she could only go out when my husband was home to carry her up. We were both in our late 60s then & not getting any younger or stronger (although my husband is a triathlete & in very good shape)! We wanted to get a puppy one last time & we needed to be sure we wouldn’t end up with a dog we couldn’t carry up the stairs! We love our sweet Rosie to pieces & do not regret our choice.
    Just be sure to buy from a reputable breeder & not a pet store! Puppy mills are a crime!

  3. Jennifer Reinke
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    I get it Mary…I really do. We have always had a Lab (of some type) for the past 35 years. Be it from a series of breeders, or the one from a rescue that was “part Lab”. Who doesn’t love puppies? But the Labs hold a very special place in my heart. You just keep doing your research and when the time is right, the right puppy will be yours.

  4. Kelly Ashton
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    So sweet…..

  5. Susan
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    Oh Mary. PG and PL No better love exists!

  6. Jody
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    A co-worker just got a new puppy and he’s been bringing her into work so they can bond. We all love petting the puppy and have called it puppy therapy. I think what you did yesterday is just what the doctor ordered!!

  7. Kris West Mimier
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    Oh how I hope you find a great teacup multipoo! Our search for one changed course & Sophie Clophouse, a petite golden doodle chose to live with us!

  8. Mary Ann
    | Reply

    The sweet comfort of puppies and kittens. I understand the tug between rescue and what works best for your life. And what’s needed for puppy’s quality of life. It’s not easy. But oh so much love and comfort to share! Hope you are feeling better today Mary.

  9. Sandra Kaufman
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    Having rescue and breeder dogs I can tell you to get the dog you want! A puppy of any kind will test you often and you need to feel comfortable with your choice. If a Designer Dog is what you are thinking than stick to it.

  10. Kathleen Kurke
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    It’s not either/or. You can purchase a dog AND still support rescue. There are lots of great reasons to adopt via rescue and lots of great reasons to adopt via breed-specific breeder. Go, Mary. You’ll be a great dog mom.

  11. Evelyne Gaudet
    | Reply

    A fur ball to love. I get it.

  12. Jennifer
    | Reply

    Go with a breeder, not the pet store. You’ll have better long term support if you have an issue come up and you’ll know where your dog is coming from. Pet store pups often come from less than glamorous starts.

    Currently, my older dog is having some issues known to his breed, so his breeder and I are working together on a plan to get him the best care so that he lives out his golden years in comfort. This may include him spending three long months with her in Chicago so he can see a world class vet, like his brother did several years ago. Pet store would never give me that sort of support.

  13. Laura
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    I adopted my rescue dog 13 years ago, and he’s been an absolute joy. I love the mission of rescues. And yet, for various reasons, when we have to say goodbye to him and bring another dog into our family we will likely be using a breeder. There are so many different things that go into the decision, and you are obviously making a thoughtful, educated choice. The older I get the more I realize how wrong it is to judge others when we can never know all the reasons behind their decisions. Best of luck getting all your eggs in a row and finding the perfect puppy to bring home.

  14. Marcia
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    As a single mom I didn’t have much money for entertaining my small son. I would take him to the pet store so we could pet the puppies. He knew going in we were just there to pet not buy. He loved it. Today he’s 40 years old and he and his wife have 3 rescues living with them, and they actively find homes for others. So the moral is puppy love comes in all forms. All pups need loving humans.

  15. Kathryn Darnell
    | Reply

    To pet a puppy, any puppy is a heart melying experience. That sweet breath, the eagerness for them to touch you lick you, just to love. That is a great day. Get well, get strong and love on a puppy. Make a reason to get up in the morning and smile.

  16. Suzan
    | Reply

    Dear Mary,
    I loved your post and when the time is right Phillip Larken will come to you. I have worked with rescue and sat on the board of our local,Humane Society. Two years ago some one turned in a chichuaha this poor fellow had not been treated well by humans and he did not like people at all. So I decided I would bring him home with me and try to socialize him. He never has been able to overcome his people dislike. He does love me and he likes my husband so we decided to keep him. The longer I have had him the more I love him. I never had any desire to share my life with a chichahuha but here we are.

  17. Gail S Sevilla
    | Reply

    I know the guilt of not rescuing a dog but I was set up with the perfect standard poodle for my circumstances. She was from a responsible breeder and was chosen to have the right personality to fit in this older couple’s home. I feel judged often but she is a great fit. She helped me heal from health concerns and also serves as good therapy for my sister. Get the dog you connect with and send your support to a rescue organization if it will help your guilt. All dogs deserve a lot of attention so timing is important. Love to you as your sort this out.

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  19. Char
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    I understand where you are coming from. We have a corgi and a Lab, got both after extensive research for a good breeder. I beg you, please don’t buy from a pet store! Their “product” comes from puppy mills which are horrific, inhumane places. Find a reputable breeder who knows what they are doing, knows how to socialize a pup during its crucial first eight weeks and will give you support as a new owner. You have a public voice; please use it to steer others away from the horrors of puppy mills and pet stores.

  20. […] main email server and hasn’t been deleted off the server for years at this point and — oh, for the love of Philip Larkin, I don’t […]

  21. […] Mom and I had the best conversation yesterday while I cleaned the house. We hadn’t talked in so long, it felt like, and we both had much to share. It worked out great to take turns: I’d mute my microphone while Mom told me something that required exposition so that I could vacuum and she wouldn’t have to hear it, then I’d unmute and do some dusting while I told her something. We talked for over 90 minutes before the cleaning jag and the conversation ended with a discussion of my health status and general disposition. And it was this last matter that led us to a discussion of Philip Larkin. […]

  22. […] my friends, we are visited by Philip Larkin. No, not the puppy I’m still dreaming about, but work from the late poet himself. It’s a day for poems and “Days” is one of […]

  23. Kim Landry
    | Reply

    The perfect. Pup is coming to you. I don’t know when but it is going to happen in perfection. I wanted a small poodle after lots of research. My health and grand daughters also were the reason. I looked for my dog for over a year, like every single day I looked for my dog. I was on every pet adoption registry within 400 miles. Then one day right in my own home town a beautiful Amber tea cup boy poodle needed a new home because his person’s health required immediate re-
    homing for him. He was within 5 miles of our home!!! Your pup is definitely worth the wait!! Blessings Mary.

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