In October of 2020, my husband and I inquired about a puppy named Skylar at Bideawee. Ten minutes later, we received an email that while Skylar had a home lined up, her sister, Pip Squeak, was available for introductions the next day in Westhampton. She was a scrawny 2-month-old puppy resembling a fruit bat, and we decided she looked like a Mildred. We were so excited to meet her, we got there 2 hours early in pouring rain from Brooklyn. After 13 beautiful years with the best dog in the world, we’d lost our dear Maggie Waggytail to old age the year before, and absolutely nothing could’ve prepared us for the loss of such a friend. Had we known how the world would change in the coming year, we might’ve taken home a puppy sooner, but each time we would go to a shelter, we’d leave in tears, unable to choose who would succeed that magnificent beast. When the pandemic hit, we were dog-less, and after countless unanswered applications, we were starting to lose hope. Of course, now we know the truth of it – we were waiting for Betty.
We killed a little time driving around Westhampton in the rain. We ate bagels in the car with my phone propped up on the dashboard, looking at that picture of Mildred (maybe Millie!) aka Pip Squeak, and hoped we’d be driving back to Brooklyn with a new pack member. We hoped our cats wouldn’t be too difficult about it and would love her as much as they loved Maggie. When we finally got to meet her, masked up in a little room at the friendliest shelter we’d ever been to – any doubts about whether she was the one just disappeared. She melted into our arms, her 7-pound body and little paws clinging to us like a koala bear, her tiny tail wagging away. She stared directly into our eyes with a certain confidence, and when she looked away, she’d give us the side-eye. She didn’t seem like a Mildred at all, and the good people at Bideawee let us take her home.
Fearless of the cats from day one, they became fast friends. She knew how to walk on a leash the first time we put one on her. She’s incredibly smart, rarely submissive, and she seems to obey commands out of a sense of cooperation – like she’s our equal, just trying not to be hassled. In exchange, she’s our Prozac. She lets us have the ball when she’s ready to fetch it. She doesn’t care about food, just love. She squeezes behind us when we’re laying down like she can’t get close enough, and she spoons us like a human, her head resting on the pillow, her nose under our necks. I could go on and on about the ways she’s enriched the last two years of our lives, how she got us through our worries about the future with her snuggly cuddles, and how she couldn’t be more different than Maggie, yet just as comforting. She strutted into our hearts like that Ram Jam song, had the radiance and dignity of Betty X, and the eyes of a much more experienced dog. By the time we got her home, her full name was Betty Bamalam Shabazzmatazz-Hunt, and she’s the best dog in the world.