Chicago Woman Files Paperwork, Deposit for Mini Maltipoo Puppy from Reputable Breeder by P. N. Dennis
CHICAGO, IL — Quilter and editor Mary Fons may have a puppy on the way.
After years of longing for a small, well-trained, hypoallergenic dog to help her stave off depression and anxiety, her application materials have been processed with a reputable breeder in Arkansas. A deposit has also been placed, making the dog — who Fons intends to name Philip Larkin after her favorite poet — one step closer to becoming a reality.
“It’s been a journey, getting to this point,” Fons said. “I’m excited. I’ve thought and thought about how it would all work; all the reasons why I shouldn’t do it; when it would be the ‘right’ time … I’ve thought rationally about all this for years. Then a couple months ago, I just totally broke down. I need him. I need Philip.”
Fons’s name is now listed on the “High Priority Waiting List” on the breeder’s website. The breeder (whose name Fons said she would wait to disclose until she had permission) was suggested some months ago by a reader of Fons’s blog, PaperGirl.
“For me to find Philip as a direct result of a PaperGirl reader is just … It’s perfect. They’ve been with me this whole time, you know? They’ve watched this develop.” The 38-year-old woman blinked back tears.
The breeder with whom Fons is now in close contact with is USDA Class-A licensed and sells registered puppies with full guarantee and microchip. The application process was apparently intense. “I wrote way more than she needed on every question, but [she] told me later she loved it, that she had full faith that I was absolutely ready for a dog. I filled out another form after that, sent my deposit, and that’s when I got on the list.”
Fons’s paperwork isn’t over yet. She has drafted a petition to her condo board to allow her to have her dog on special dispensation, as the building allows residents to have cats but not dogs.
“I’ve struggled with whether I deserve to ask for special treatment,” Fons said. “Anyone who knows me knows that’s been true for a long time. I’m not a rule breaker — and I’m not so special. But I am human, and my heart hurts. I will be responsible for — and with — my non-shedding, five-pound pet. I intend to train him and make him a source of joy for everyone he comes into contact with.”
And if the condo board denies her petition? “Well, it’s going to come with a strong letter of recommendation from my psychiatrist, so that would be some stone cold stuff,” Fons said, “but I would respect their decision. I’m not going to sneak a dog into my home. But my amazing Arkansas breeder isn’t going anywhere, so I’d just double down on my search for a new apartment and take it from there. But I would be sad.”
On the side of Fons’s fridge is a sheet of paper printed with information on neighborhood boarding services, pet stores, and groomers. “I’m going to be ready when [REDACTED] calls,” she said. Fons is listed on the waiting list as desiring a “small, male, apricot” mini Maltipoo; the next litter that would produce a puppy fitting the description could be 3-5 months from now. Possibly more. Fons says she’s waited this long, so it’s okay.
“It’s all so real now,” she said. Then she grinned. “Can you imagine what it’ll be like when I finally meet him? How am I going to blog with a tiny puppy on my lap?? I think I might have to skip writing words and post YouTube videos of me and Philip on the ol’ PG for awhile. They’re gonna have to see him in action.”
It’s been awhile since I updated you on my future dog. If you don’t know about wee Philip Larkin (aka “Philip Barkin,” aka “Pipkin,” aka “Mary’s Heart’s Delight,” etc.), just click the category over there on the right-hand side of the blog that says “Philip Larkin” and you can see the posts about him.
The good news is that, thanks to all of your incredible internet sleuthing and helpful suggestions about where to get me a Philip, I believe I have found my source. Thank you, thank you to all for your input about breeders vs. shelters; your warnings about puppy mills; your care and concern for animals in this world and your care and concern for me. I am more convicted than ever: Once I am able to provide a stable home for my lil’ pup — after graduation, with a more routine travel schedule — I will put the wheels in motion.
Except that the bad news is something which has not changed since the last time we talked but is now weighing most heavily on my mind: I would have to petition my condo board and management to have Philip in my building. Because dogs are not allowed in this building … Unless.
Unless they are service animals.
Please, please read the rest of the post before commenting. Beware when/if emotions begin to take over, and use your brilliant mind to reason out your thoughts before typing anything. (I have come to expect the best from you.) And I need your help. This post is sort of like the nursing post: I’m really of two minds on all this as it applies to my own life and your input is valued. So bring your values as we look at this hot topic together. And sorry this post is so long, but splitting it into two would be chaos. I need to say the whole thing at once.
If you need filling in, the deal is this:
Service animals — often dogs, but not always — are animals trained to help their owner navigate the world due to that owner being disabled or differently-abled. Service animals can go pretty much anywhere with their owner — including places that usually don’t allow pets, like stores, airplanes, and condominiums — because their owner needs that animal to be in the world. For example, a person who is legally blind may use a seeing-eye dog; a person who needs help reaching things or retrieving things as a result of limited mobility may have a pet who can help with that. Everyone agrees these smart, loving service creatures are superheros.
Some service animals serve owners in a different, official-ish capacity as so-called “emotional support” animals. These service animals are understood to provide relief of the mental and emotional kind for those who care for them. Emotional support animals are needed less when crossing the street, more to quell anxiety attacks; less needed for alerting paramedics to an ostomy, more needed for the crushing depression and grinding loneliness that might come from a medical condition. For example.
And that’s not quack stuff or touchy-feely logic. Anyone who has a pet knows how much emotional support pets provide. And across the board, doctors, therapists, behavioral scientists, caretakers, casual observers, and certainly the owners of animals are all in agreement: Pets help people cope with hard stuff. Whether it’s cancer, HIV/AIDS, depression, PTSD, or the havoc of life, or the stubborn existential crisis, or any number of health disasters that can befall us at any time, having an animal around makes us feel better. A pet is a friend — and we all need a friend, especially when we’re facing hard stuff.
I live alone. I have friends, but I don’t have a partner. Most of the time I’m okay like that, but sometimes I am terribly lonesome. My forever GI situation and day-to-day management of my body is exhausting and if I think about it too long, I get sad, very sad, very sad. Until my insurance got canceled, I saw a therapist every 10 days because like millions of other Americans, I face depression. I can’t afford Dr. Herman right now, so I am not in therapy.
Every time I think even for a second about how happy my little Philip would make me, running toward me when I get home with his little tongue out, well, I just burst into tears. I’m literally crying right now, thinking of his funny face. It happens every time.
I could petition and do the “emotional support animal” thing and likely succeed. I write effective letters. But is it really fair to try and get special treatment to have my dog?
The reason there are no dogs allowed in my building is because dogs are hard on a building. I’m an owner in this condominium. I have agreed to the rules. I want others to play by those rules, too. What if everyone petitioned for a dog? I wouldn’t like that. I’d move, eventually, if the house was a big dog park. So, okay: Maybe if I want a dog so badly, I should be the one who moves to a dog-friendly building, not be the person who inconveniences my neighbors — neighbors who moved into the building possibly because there was a no-dog policy.
A lot of the controversy surrounding emotional support animals centers on people taking their emotional support animals into airports, grocery store lines, Starbucks cafes, into bathrooms — into places that are not for dogs. If the dog is wild, if the dog misbehaves, if the dog acts like a dog at all and not like a stuffed animal, people get understandably upset. And they get way more upset if the person with the wild dog is like, “I need this animal for emotional support” when really, they just didn’t want to board their dog or they really just think they don’t need to obey the rules. There are absolutely those people out there. I read about one man taking a peacock on a plane because he needed it for “emotional support.” Dude, really?
However. We can’t tell who has a disability or not. The woman at the movie theater with her dog on her lap — her dog who is wearing a “I’m an Emotional Support Animal” jacket purchased online for a few dollars — might very well be gaming the system. And she makes it harder for others who really do need emotional support and can find that in a pet that they need close as much as possible. But she also might be dealing with crippling anxiety and agoraphobia and her pup is helping her be in the world. We don’t know who has mental illness most of the time. We don’t know each other’s lives until we do. And when we do, it’s harder to be judgemental.
Two last things:
I’m afraid that if I would try for this special dispensation, I would be lumped in with the people who are gaming the system and that would be embarrassing and unfair. I’m afraid that I would be taking advantage of a system, that I don’t need Philip that badly, that if I got permission and it made people mad, it might make it harder for someone with terminal cancer to get a dog or cat that saves their life every day.
When I told my family that I would have to make Philip a service animal to get permission to have him, I told them about those fears I just mentioned. Mom, Hannah, and Rebecca, almost on cue, looked at me and said, “Um … Mar, you definitely need emotional support. Get … Get the dog.”
Tonight, 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 Larkin’s best, if you can choose bests from a body of work like that.
As for Philip Larkin (aka “Philip Barkin”) the mini-Maltipoo puppy, I sent an email today to a breeder. Don’t get wag your tail just yet, though; there’s still miles to go before I’ll be typing up the ol’ PG while a puppy licks my toe.
I’ve had the chance to revisit my research lately, though, that is true, and I just watched 20 minutes of puppy videos on YouTube. If my desire for Philip is like, a flare-up of some kind, I have officially left remission. I want my puppieeeee.
Anyway, here’s “Days,” as exquisite as the face of a 4-week-old puppy, just in a different, more existential, melancholy way.
by Philip Larkin
What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?
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.
If anyone out there is tired of me talking about dream dog Philip Larkin, I’m afraid there’s simply nothing I can do about it and — wait a minute, hang on. If you are tired of hearing about a girl’s true love of The Tiny Puppy Of Her Dreams, I am sincerely worried about your general disposition and if you do choose to click away, I hope that you will click to a better place. I’m completely serious! This is serious stuff!
Okay, back to Philip.
“Mom, I think I’m going to do it,” I said.
“Well,” Mom said, “I do think —”
I cut her off, noticing that I did that and feeling bad but not willing to clam up just yet. “But I am not going to do anything rash,” I said. “It’s not like I’ve run off done it already. There are many steps to take to make it happen, most of which involve paperwork. I’d need to get all kinds of things filed — and approved — before I’d get permission. And after that, I have to find a breeder, which could take awhile. Ask me how I know.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve been emailing breeders, actually, which proves how serious I am, I guess. And I did look in Iowa first.”
My mother and Mark got Scrabble, a miniature Golden Doodle puppy, from a reputable breeder in Iowa about eight years ago. Mom has strongly advised me to “get an Iowa dog!” She’s not wrong about the quality of Iowa stock, not that I’m biased. But, as I went on to tell Mom, none of the Iowa-based Maltipoo breeders raise teacup Maltipoos, which is what Philip must be. (A miniature Maltipoo is a normal-small dog; a teacup Maltipoo is the size of a well-fed hamster.) I’ve looked in Illinois, naturally, but it’s the same thing here. The only places that have teacups are pet stores and I just don’t think this is the best way to acquire my furry best friend. I’ve read terrible things about pet stores being mills and the pups being sick — oh, it’s just awful. If anyone can make the case for the pet store, please make it. I am trying to get this right and hey, if a pet store like the one I visited a few weeks ago is a legit place to pick’a Philip Larkin, that saves me a great deal of footwork and many miles of travel. Yes, at this point, it looks as though I may have to travel a great distance for my dream dog. And I wince to share that, as this opens me up to a great deal of criticism, I realize, from people horrified that I don’t just go over to the animal shelter and get a worthy, needy pet that way. Again, I have my reasons for approaching this big change in my life in the manner in which I’m approaching it and if my life circumstances were different, I suspect my approach would be different, as well. Be gentle with me.
We discussed all this and then Mom had a great idea, which is not an uncommon occurrence.
“You should ask your PaperGirl readers if they know anyone who owns a Philip or breeds teacup Maltipoos. I’m sure you’ll get someone who either has one of their own or could get you in touch with someone, don’t you think?”
And so I ask you, pals: Would you be willing to draw upon your vast resources, your extensive network of professional associations, your thousands and thousands of social media friends and admirers, your high school sweethearts, your very children — yes! your kin! — to help me find my puppy? I just know a pure-hearted teacup Maltipoo breeder is out there and the coolest thing in the whole world would be to find Wee Philip because of a PaperGirl connection! I mean, seriously. Seriously, for real, I keel over with joy and then Philip Larkin would lick me back into consciousness.
In closing, I would like to give a major shout out to Suzanne, who commented on yesterday’s anguished post with something that made my day and is germane to this post in a big way. Get a load of this:
When you first brought up Philip Larkin, I had no idea who this was and went off to Wikipedia. And then some other sites, and then some more and thoroughly enjoyed my voyage. Months later, my book group decided to read Devices and Desires by P. D. James. In the introductory chapters, we learn the main character (Adam Dalgleish) is a renowned poet and appears to hold Philip Larkin in high esteem. I just sat and smiled this little glowy smile — I KNEW who Philip Larkin was. Thank you, Mary. And I’m reading a real, touch-the-pages book.
Thanks, Suzanne, and thank you, everyone, for any help you might be able to provide re: my quest. I think if I do eventually get that pup, I’ll have to start a video blog version of PaperGirl. It would be called PaperGirl: Extreme Philip Larkin Edition and it would feature hours and hours of video of that dog as he canters, cavorts, hops, yips, wriggles, rolls over, fetches, shakes, snorgles, twirls, chases his tail, licks my nose, plays with various items, drinks water, eats small food, and curls up in my arms.
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’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.
Most of you loved the idea and your enthusiasm was powerful. I had visions of little Pipkin (brilliant, Lesley!) licking his whiskers, curling up for a nap on a stack of quilts. I even emailed the pet adoption center downtown and filled out the application form to foster a kitten after several readers advised me to start there. It was all very exciting.
Just a few people said, “Hm… Are you sure, Mar?” and I was glad that those voices were there because as much as I hated to admit it, I had a small but real hesitation in my mind about getting a cat. If the “Hang on there, cowgirl” people hadn’t spoken up, I might’ve ignored that little doubt and there could be a kitten on my lap right now.
(Oh, wow. There could be a kitten on my lapright now… That sounds really great. Wait! No! Focus, Mary Fons! Focus!)
Here’s the problem: As I said in the original post, I really, really want a little dog. I love cats. I do. And we know from this Quilt Scout column that I’m not sold on the idea that “there are two kinds of people in the world” and therefore there are cat people and dog people and ne’er the twain shall meet. Truth be told, I’m actually afraid of big dogs; I’ve personally known two people who have suffered dog bites — bad ones. Like, face bites that required surgery. (I know; it’s really, really horrible.) But even not-so-big dogs can freak me out: One of my best friends from back home, her dog when we were growing up was mean as a snake, barked incessantly, and snapped at me whenever I got near her and she wasn’t much bigger than a Big Wheel.
But the truth is, like a young girl who has watched way too many old-school Disney movies dreams of her Prince Charming, I dream of my teacup Maltipoo, Philip Larkin. He’s a teacup Maltipoo and he’s my guy. My problem with getting a cat is that really, I want a dog and I’m not ready to be mature and wise and gracious and giving and get a different species entirely because I can’t have him, yet. (If you haven’t read the original post, the reasons I can’t have Philip Larkin right now are listed there.) I just have this Phil-or-nothing mindset. It’s like I’m practicing pet chastity or something, saving myself for…marriage. (That’s a super weird line of metaphor that I’m going to drop immediately, even though it is weirdly accurate.)
Perhaps what cinched it for me was my learning from all of you about how cats really need to have a feline companion, especially if they’re alone for long hours in the day. Having two cats makes total sense and if I ever have a cat, I’ll have two. But that was just it: Instead of not having one dog, suddenly I had two cats. And it felt wrong.
For now, I shall wait. I will pet my friend Sophie’s cats. I will pet my friend Heather’s cat. And I might still foster a kitten at some point, just to make sure! But several people have asked me about the Cat Question and I thought I’d update you.
I hinted at something a few days ago. I hinted that I was thinking of getting a pet.
And it’s true that I have been thinking. And researching. And thinking some more. And looking at pictures. And watching videos to educate myself. I’ve been thinking of logistics. And problems. And joys. And I’ve come to a decision. A firm-but-not-final decision…to get one.
If all conditions were perfect for a pet in my life, I would get a dog. Not just any dog: a caramel-colored Miniature Maltipoo. These creatures are technically dogs, but only technically; really, the Miniature Maltipoo — a mini Maltese and Poodle mix — is a teddy bear that is alive and made of Pure Good. I have a folder of pictures of these criminally perfect…objects on my computer and I look at them when I feel sad, happy, or confused about any number of things, really, because no matter what my state of mind, the Mini Maltipoo makes everything better.
But Philip Larkin (for I have picked out my puppy’s name and he shall be named after my favorite poet) is not going to happen. There are a number of reasons I can’t have a dog right now in my life. They include:
my goofy schedule (not okay for a pup)
dogs are not allowed in my building (bit of a deal-breaker)
Philip Larkin would be so cute and perfect and lovable I would hug and hug and squeeze and squeeze him and love him so much I might squish him! (a legitimate concern)
My friend Sophie was over today and we had such a wonderful time. I sewed and she worked on a commissioned illustration.
“You’re getting married. You’re pregnant. You’re going to Australia.”
“No, no. I have been thinking of getting a pet.”
Soph gasped, so excited by this she nearly knocked over her bottle of ink. I confessed to her my perfect pet would be Philip Larkin but that since Philip and I can’t be together right now for the reasons listed above, I have been considering getting… A kitty!
“You know, Soph, I think a kitty—”
“Don’t you think that would be sort of great? I mean —”
I’d never seen this woman so serious. “It would be good for me, honestly, to take care of a —”
“Yes. You. Mary. Cat. Yes.”
Sophie is one of the smartest people I have ever met. She loves me a lot. She has a heart as big as they come and she is also the owner of two cats that I happen to adore: Puppy and John. Sophie allayed my fears that getting a cat was some kind of a second-best option or a placeholder for Philip Larkin.
For me to have Philip Larkin, I would need to move, change careers, and/or live with another human being who could help me care for him. It seems a shame to have Philip Larkin or no pet at all, ever — or until my entire life looks different than it does today. This is not dress rehearsal! If I wait for the perfect time to go to grad school, do a 30-day yoga challenge (I’m on Day 11!), or design a line of fabric, that time may never arrive. We can all relate to this, no matter what the dream, the desire, the project, the life change. You wait and wait…for what? The perfect day may never come.
There could be a little cat in this world who needs me.
Something has been shifting in my heart over the past six months or so. I kinda want to take care of a being. A furry one, mind you; some will wonder if this is a biological clock thing and that’s fair, but I’ve searched myself and it’s really not a driving factor or a subconscious one, far as I can feel. My longing for a pet has something to do with the Literary Animal class I took this term. It has something to do with winter. It has to do with curiosity — about myself and about love. It definitely has to do with love.
I’m researching makes and models. (That’s a joke!) Some cats are better on their own than others. Some are more affectionate than others. I’m interested in shorter hair than longer hair. I’m going to go visit shelters and talk to cat owners. Sophie’s a great resource and has already agreed to come cat-sit if I’m going to be gone very long. I’m not 100% certain about this, but I am what you would call “seriously noodling.” The kitten would move in after I come back from Berlin, in mid-January.
p.s. Possible names include: Stevie Smith (other favorite poet), Pal, or…Philip Larkin.
I found a photograph of a little doggie at a flea market. Wanna see him? Okay, here he is:
I got him for $25 dollars. As you can see, he was irresistible. The cock of the head, the sparkly eyes. He had to be mine. I thought for a second he might’ve been that famous 1930’s Hollywood dog, Asta. But he’s not. He’s just a little dog. What’s neat is that his picture was taken by a Chicago photography studio that no longer exists, somewhere up north. The name was stamped on the back. Abbot Photography, I think?
I spared no expense with the frame. I went to a trusted frame shop and did him right. I feel like I rescued him, which of course makes him “a rescue.” Now he’s home. He’s warm and dry, beloved and safe. Safe in the home of a woman who really needs him.
I named him after my favorite poet: Philip Larkin.