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.

In Lieu of My Tirade Against Hollywood, Ladies + Gentlemen, Scrabble.

posted in: Family, Paean 3

For the past hour I have been working on the post I wanted to post this morning. It’s turning into quite a beast of an essay and it’s simply not ready for prime-time. It’s about Hollywood and how I can’t take it anymore.

Since I can’t post something half-baked but I hate missing a day — and because I’m bone-weary tired and need to introduce my head to a pillow for once in my life for heaven’s sake — I’ve decided to share a picture of Scrabble, my mother’s miniature Golden Doodle.

Scrabble is a dog that looks like a lamb, behaves like four-year-old child (curious, adorable, infuriating), and is named after a board game. She can fetch a quilt, shake hands, and has lots of work to do in the evenings: she has to run around the yard and bark for 20 minutes.

“Scrabble’s doing her barking work,” my mother will say, loading the dishwasher.

Scrabble loves me and I love Scrabble. This photo was taken at about six in the morning last month when I was home in Iowa filming TV. She sleeps downstairs, but when she wakes up in the morning, she’ll bolt all the way upstairs to my childhood bedroom and dive-bomb my head in order to cuddle me. She is not allowed to lick my face; she licks my face anyway.

Scrabble, if you were able to send emails for me or finish my blog post — or fact-check it at the very least, Scrabble! — you’d be even more precious to me than you already are. But I suppose your being a dog confers special qualities that cancel out your human shortcomings. So it’s a wash.

Goodnight, Miss Muddy Paws, wherever you are in the Iowa house tonight.

BONUS: I never do it, but you’ll see why this is worth an outside link. Watch Scrabble fetch her quilt for my Mom.