locked up for almost five months has made us more inquisitive about what
is around us here at home.
And what is not here.
Lulu, my faithful companion (pictured
here), could not be described as a wonder dog, that’s for sure.
No heroics on July 4th either.
Dog on Assignment
As the fireworks went off into the wee small
hours, Lulu, who is on assignment at the home our daughter Flossie shares
with her husband Anthony, hid under the bed.
But gone is not forgotten, so I often think
about my dog who came to us a couple of Thanksgivings ago from the Linden
Blvd. ASPCA kill shelter. Located near JFK International Cargo area, the
Animal Care Center is where they send dogs for a last chance at finding
a home before something less seemly happens.
Lulu, as it turns out, was named Lucy when
I first spied her hard up against an uncomfortable wire cage.
How did this Happen?
“How the hell did I end up here?”
was the question in her eyes, ringing clear as a bell.
“Look Geoffrey, here is a cute dog
named Charlie,” said my darling wife Sabiha as Lucy and I stared
at each other through the wires. A big truck pulled up out back and the
place went nuts as a few dozen dogs had their ticket punched and were
about to be moved from the shelter to storefront adoption centers somewhere
in downtown Brooklyn.
Undoubtedly, they were celebrating their
liberation and a chance to live another day.
In most shelters, the animals look at you
or pace around as you walk past or extend a hand.
She just held her ground and sent me another
“Get me the fuck out of here.”
Ready, Set, Go! But Wait . . .
I, of course, was ready at once, but had
We had lost our cocker of a decade, a black-and-white
named Mr. Chips, about eight months prior, and although we had waited
a decent amount of time our adoption of another dog had to pass the sniff
test of both daughters, even though everybody at this point in time lives
For the Love of Chips
was another shelter dog adoption so beloved by our family.
When we had to put him down, we had most
of the family—Sabiha, Flossie, Emily, Geoffrey, Christina, and me—in
the old VW bus as we drove to the vet one very dark sad night.
I recall driving back home in silence. No
one said a word, but the next day I noticed that the big box of Kleenex
in the bus was empty.
Fast forward eight months and into the shelter
marched the dubious daughters, Flossie and Emily (pictured here with
Flossie took one look at Lucy and exclaimed:
“How come you’re so damn cute?”
I knew it was all over but the paperwork
when Flossie said that.
Then we all went outside on a little “trial
Lucy Becomes Lulu
On the VW bus ride home, Lucy became Lulu,
named after the comic strip character “Little Lulu,” a notoriously
“She is a great dog,” said the
lady who took $160 dollars as fee for Lulu, figuring that we might not
have already figured that out.
Chew on this Awhile
likes to chew on stuff,” she added.
Later we discovered that Lulu had belonged
to some people in Manhattan that had bought her from a puppy mill for
maybe two thousand USD and then kept her caged all day while at work.
One day Lulu escaped captivity and had the
run of the apartment. She found a nice, sumptuous pair of leather shoes
and dutifully chewed them up.
After that episode it was curtains for this
dog and her “Mad Hattan” experience.
I guess she earned her new name far earlier
Pretty Face Did Not Add Up
Lucy was not the “accessory”
those folks wanted or were willing to care much about.
“That happens a lot” the dog
people tell me.
Lulu basically needed and still uses one
of those nylon chew toys. She works at it for a couple of hours every
day, honing it into a makeshift shiv that we quickly retire before she
hurts herself or stabs one of us.
It’s either that or lose a leg on
the dining room table.
Apparently, every few weeks Anthony takes
a hammer and screwdriver, knocks the point off, and sands it down with
sandpaper so she can get to work chewing again on the same bone. They’re
marking time by how much her bone has shrunk.
When we brought her home, Lulu was immediately
enamored with our small, green backyard.
She also immediately took to Cunningham
Park nearby, an enormous green space where she can visit tennis courts
to help grow her collection of more than 100 bright green tennis balls.
Flossie would walk her there and the two
of them would sit outside the fence until a player would eventually spot
the two beauties and toss a ball over the fence.
After a year and a half of life in a crate
all day, with nothing more than tiny patches of green around city trees,
Lulu was having a ball.
Corona in Iso Only Half Over
In July 2020, as Corona in Iso continues,
Lulu is happily situated with Flossie and Anthony, who are just wonderful
with her. Under the current circumstance, they have been a godsend for
all of us as we don’t have to venture out with the dog into a neighborhood
increasingly held under sway of the virus.
But I do miss her, and in searching around
for some way to share a universal love of dogs with you, dear reader,
I thought to include the keen wit and simple, gentle art of the great
of James Thurber
James Thurber was no artist in the traditional
sense, but for more than 35 years his work with dogs was featured in The
New Yorker. In 1936, one of his pieces even graced the cover.
As long as you are still in lockdown, do
yourself a favor, subscribe online or even for the weekly hard copy. If
you like to read, The New Yorker is the best literary magazine
ever; I personally guarantee it. James Thurber, who wrote 40 books, created
quite a few volumes that included dogs.
Here is a taste from one book that actually
ended up as part of a Broadway play sixty years ago titled: A Thurber
We will be celebrating the Dog Days of
Summer with cartoons by James Thurber during July and August because living
in lockdown has helped us appreciate some things in life that often get
And we see our Lulu in these drawings and
that at once makes us feel good.
Every Dog Has Its Day
If you have a dog, or a cat, or a turtle,
or a tank full of fish, or any other companion who only expresses love
and can’t talk back, send us a picture and a story.
I will personally read every submission
and would love to share the Little Lulus in your lives.