B.D and A.D.--part 1

Never, ever have to have a conversation about a speechless creature's bowel movements with your husband.

Most days I can't remember her, though I have lived far more years as That Woman than This Woman.

And then I bump into someone who knew me Before. And I see her eyes whirl in her head, and dart to the dog at my feet.

"YOU have a dog?"

or:

"YOU? WHAT?"

It isn't quite the same narrative as getting sober, or losing weight. That story is pretty clear. You put down the substance or the activity that was ruining your life, and then your life gets better. Harder, maybe. But better. You fight against temptation. You ask for help. Sometimes you fall. If you're lucky, you get back up again.

No, pre-dog and post-dog life--that's a different hero's saga altogether, particularly if you were, as I was, Absolutely Terrified of Dogs. And if you do, as I do now, own a breed of dog other people are terrified of.

Not to mention that my dogless life was actually pretty good, actually. B.D.: Before Dog. The era of: Travel at will. Stay out all night. Eat breakfast without being interrupted by barking. Never, ever have to have a conversation about a speechless creature's bowel movements with your husband.

A.D.: After Dog. And not just any dog. A long-term denizen of a no-kill shelter in a grim part of Jersey City. Fat, female, unfixed. Faith.

I joke that the dog was part of my pre-nup, a promise to my husband. Jeff and I were both over 40 when we married. He had never lived with anyone, two-legged or four-legged, in his adult life. Neither of us had been married before. And I had grown up terrified of dogs.

But I had promised him a pet. A cat.

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