The World Economy, the Pandemic, Dogs, and Me

Big changes, small dogs

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We did it: we got a puppy. We’re insane; we’re checking every Covid box (bake bread, do jigsaw puzzles, wear sweats, get a puppy); we have lost our minds. But so far, it’s been great.

Both of our dogs came into our possession through unusual and geo-politically significant circumstances. Ivy, our senior dog, is a Welsh springer spaniel from a fancy show-dog family, all champions and such — the kind of high-demand dog where you have to get on a waiting list when a female is pregnant and then hope the litter is big enough that your number will come up. Her lucky owners, back when she was a wee pup, were wealthy folks in Connecticut, and they paid a kingly sum for her.

Then came the Great Recession, which cratered the economy in 2010. The wealthy folks who owned Ivy lost their jobs, as did about eight million other Americans. Then, when the bank foreclosed, they lost their house. In such circumstances — housing and finances upended — managing a rambunctious four-month-old puppy was impossible, so they called the breeder to see if they could return the dog and perhaps even get their money refunded. The breeder took Ivy back, gave them their money, and then posted the pup online as a rescue, which is how we stumbled upon her, when we were trawling for a Welsh Terrier but hoped to find a dog who was in dire need of a home. Ivy filled both requirements. We call her our foreclosure dog.

Buck, our new Smooth Fox Terrier puppy, is a Covid dog. He is also from a swanky bloodline with a glittering pedigree, lovingly curated by a breeder in Bakersfield, California, and before he was even born, he was purchased by a family in India. (Smooth Fox Terriers are, evidently, extremely popular in India.) He was born in March, exactly six days after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. Transporting people, dogs, or even objects from Bakersfield, California, to Jaipur, India, became impossible and insurmountably complicated. The breeder waited, thinking — as we all probably did — that the pandemic would simmer down. A month went by, and then another, and the prospects for sending Buck to India grew dimmer and dimmer.

I had been looking on dog rescue sites for months, and every time I found a dog I liked, I would start to email an inquiry when a new post would pop up, declaring, “Peaches has been adopted!” or “Sheldon has found his forever home!” It was worse than applying to preschool for my kid — I felt like I needed an ‘in’ and a Greek chorus of recommendations and still wasn’t quite making the cut.

In the meantime, I had also become infatuated with Smooth Fox Terriers, but I couldn’t seem to find one. I located a breeder on a dog-finder website who supposedly had eight puppies available, but when I called her, she scoffed and said the puppies had all been sold before they were even weaned. She must have sensed my disappointment, because she said she’d call a friend who might possibly know of an unclaimed pup. And so the match was made. India’s loss is Los Angeles’ gain. I guess I can thank Covid for something.

Writer, writer, writer. Oh, I also write. Staff writer, The New Yorker. Author of The Library Book, The Orchid Thief, and more…

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