I never would have gotten the dog if it hadn’t been for the handbag.
I’m not proud of this fact. But, there you have it. The Lord works in mysterious ways and, in this particular instance, He worked through a plush, bubblegum-pink velvet bag with chocolate satin trim.
I plopped the bag on the sales counter while my friend Charlotte lifted a brow. “Gabriella, what are you doing?”
I laid a protective hand on the purse and sighed at the sensation of soft velvet beneath my fingertips. “I’m buying this handbag. Isn’t it precious?”
“That’s not a handbag.”
“What?” Perhaps her voice had been obscured by the cha-ching of the cash register. “Of course it is.”
“No, it’s not. It’s a dog carrier.”
My hand paused mid-signature while my gaze darted to the discreet mesh flap on the bag’s side. Then it shifted to the chocolate satin bow and I finished signing my name with a flick of my wrist.
Charlotte’s eyes grew wide. “That thing costs a fortune and you don’t even have a dog.”
“No, but that’s about to change.”
After two subway rides and a rather large amount of eye rolling on Charlotte’s part, I found myself alone at the city shelter in the Bronx. I know…it doesn’t sound very glamorous. But I heard somewhere that JFK, Jr. once adopted a dog here. So, there you go.
The dogs all peered at me from their cages. Shivering Chihuahuas, whimpering weenie dogs and mournful mutts. The bigger dogs, all slobber and clumsy paws, made a commotion in their concrete runs behind me.
They were all so cute. Any one of them would have looked divine poking its head out of my posh bag. As I moved from one cage to the next, melting puppy dog eyes followed my every move. A knot lodged in the pit of my stomach and I realized these poor creatures weren’t mere fashion accessories. They were living beings, created by God. The fancy dog carrier in my shopping bag suddenly seemed very heavy. My shoulder slumped under its weight, now of golden-calf-like proportions.
A stern man in a gray jumpsuit walked past me with a leash dangling at his side. I shot a weak smile at him and watched him open the door to one of the big runs.
“C’mon Bruno, let’s go.” He coaxed a massive, terrified dog from the recesses of the drab cubicle. “Time for your last dance.”
Last dance. Somehow I got the feeling he wasn’t referring to what happens to the B-list celebrities who get booted off Dancing with the Stars.
I chased after man and dog, my Jimmy Choos clattering on the concrete floor. “Sir, where are you taking him?”
The man turned and sympathy for him tugged at my heart. I made a mental note to add him to my prayer list. “His time’s run out. You don’t really want to know where I’m taking him, ma’am.”
I locked gazes with the colossal canine. Okay, so a water dish for this dog probably wouldn’t fit in my new bag. But, something in his eyes resonated with me. “I’ll take him.”
Later that night, the newly christened Badgley (as in Mischka) sprawled on my sofa and I noticed for the first time that his coat was the exact color of a Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte.
“You’re quite handsome, you know that?”
I plopped down beside him and began painting my toenails while he watched me warily from his end of the couch. Cotton Candy Cloud. I observed with irony it was the same pink as my new handbag.
With each stroke of polish, Badgley inched closer until his bulky head rested in my lap. Tears pricked the corners of my eyes.
“Maybe tomorrow I can stick a couple of tennis balls and a bottle of water in my new bag and we can go to the park. Would you like that?”
He answered by plopping a paw on my knee and staring fervently at the little bottle of Cotton Candy Cloud.
I waved the tiny paintbrush. “Is this what you want?"
He grunted and licked my hand.
When I picked up his paw, it covered my entire palm. I carefully painted one dull dog nail with the pink polish, then another and another.
Badgley’s tail thumped against the sofa and I gave him a kiss on the tip of his wet nose.
“Something tells me you and I are going to get along just fine.”
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