It was January 10, 2004 and this little ball of white fluff was lying in the passenger seat as I drove home. He didn’t make a single whimper, peep or twitch – he was absolutely terrified being in this fast, noisy 1 ton machine with the distance becoming greater between him and his mother and brothers. I was really anxious about him the whole drive and kept looking over to make sure the little guy was doing okay; I knew there was going to be an adjustment period to his new home and family from all the research I did. Finally, we pull up to my house and I gently lift the 2 ounce puppy into my arms, against my chest and walk towards the door.
Hours before, I tried to ensure nobody would be home to see this new intruder. My father was in Hong Kong, my mom at work and my sister was supposed to be out, but she sensed something was up and stayed to snoop (even this she readily admits). My home has been a “no pets” zone and I abided by my parents’ rules as much as possible (nevermind the white rabbit and my sister’s 18th birthday present: a chinchilla). I figured once this cutie-pa-tootie was in the home for an established amount of time, everybody would feel too guilt stricken to get rid of him: “everybody” meaning my daddy since he was the ultimate authority. However, he was 11,000 miles away and had no say ^_^ Mom raised dogs in her childhood so I banked on her love of dogs to keep this 10 week old baby. Yes, I manipulated the system but what smart- aleck would not?
Anyway, my sister flings open the door before I can get my key out and says, “You can’t bring the dog into the house,” in a tone both scared and excited with a look that said otherwise. I said, “Mind your own business and there’s nothing that can be done cause he has to stay at least for the night,” the time being 9 p.m. She goes, “Do you have a food and water bowl? A leash? A bed?” and so forth with a list that I could put no checks next to except for a water bowl. I didn’t expect my new Maltese to eat anything for the first 24 hours as the books had instructed he would be anxious and too upset to want to eat. Without hesitation, my sister jumps into the car and makes me take this scared puppy to a pet store to grab NONSENSE – dog treats and a leash (as if a 2 month old puppy is trained to go outside).
Upon arrival back at the house, I snuggle my baby into my room and settle him on my pillow. Not an hour later, my mom comes home and yells, “Get the dog out!” My sister oh so helpfully squealed on me before I had time to make my case. I bundled my puppy against my breast, approached my mom and placed him in her arms. Her face melted but she tried to force my hand to get rid of him before Dad came home (who most likely would protest since the last dog my parents had, he put up for adoption because the chow-chow wouldn’t obey him: just mom). I made the obligatory remarks of taking sole responsibility (even though technically, the 10 week old was mom’s christmas gift when she rejected the Louis Vuitton I got her) and raising him. Even the little cotton ball understood his place in this new home was in jeopardy so he quickly wanders to the newspaper left on the kitchen floor and relieves himself in front on my mom. She completely melts at that point realizing the baby Maltese was partially potty trained. It was really late by that time, around midnight and I insisted I needed sleep as much as the puppy and everyone else. I went up to my room and my puppy slept with me for less than an hour before my mom snuck into my room, shook the baby awake, declared him awake and alert and took him into her bed.
So far, I’ve avoided calling my 10 week old Maltese any name because I feared the attachment and heartache if my father made me boot him. Then, I realized this was a test, an experiment to see if an animal would finally be welcomed into this home. Experiment 626 is the legal name of the Disney laboratory made alien/monster: Stitch. As of this posting, my Stitch has lived up to the terror and character of the same name. He is vindictive (he’ll poop or pee on your clothes, bed, etc if he feels you have slighted him out of a treat or attention), destructive (he only enjoys teething on expensive shoes and lingerie AND *can* tell the difference), unruly (it’s his way or the highway), cuddly and unbearably sweet. Stitch is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life and all my mistakes, past and present, will never overshadow the unbelievable warmth and commitment that has brought my family closer since he crossed the entrance threshold.