It is hard to find a dark side to my relationship with Sancha. I know I am not nostalgically sugar coating anything when I say that 99% of our time together brought out the best in both of us. But in reflecting back on my time with Sancha, it has struck me how there was something of a dark side to many of my most joyful experiences with her. Not a dark side in the Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde sense. More an ethically complicated side. Perhaps I am just by temperament given to deconstruct and over-analyze everything, to refuse to acknowledge bliss when it licks me on the nose. Or perhaps there really is no such thing as a free lunch or a morally pure emotion.
I spent my first year in New York without a dog, per roommate insistence. I had had dog(s) since age 10 at home, and then lived with my childhood dog my year off of college (mid-sophomore year) and then he rejoined me my senior year. And the years at college I didn't have MacBeth I worked as a dogwalker and dogsitter. So I was desperate to have a dog again. And when the roommates moved out after my first year, I was rarin' to adopt. I recall applying with various private rescue organizations and having them turn me down because I didn't have a fenced-in backyard. Also small young dogs are at a premium in New York. Hundreds of pits and pit mixes languish in the shelters (or rather they don't languish, they get put to sleep), but a good poodle/terrier mix is hard to find. Anyway, I was visiting Animal Care and Control (the kill shelter in NYC) to check on offerings and I remember riding up the elevator with a family that was straight out of a 50s sitcom (a Dominican 50s sitcom anyway). Mom, dad, adorable gap-toothed approx. 8 year old little boy, all excited about getting his first dog. (You can hear it now: "I promise to walk him" "I will call him Fluffy and we will build a clubhouse and he will be my best friend.") Lovely people, and I totally saw my 10 year old, about-to-get-first-dog self in this little boy. They also wanted to a smaller dog. Anyway, we parted ways in the shelter, and although I was dead-set that I did NOT want a Chihuahua, because I DO NOT LIKE Chihuahuas, because Chihuahuas are anxious, shivery, not cute and climb all over you, I saw this dog labeled "Chihuahua" and she was affectionate, and seemed poised, sturdy, adorable, weighed a solid 15 lb., and she beamed at me from her cage, and I WANTED.
She had just been spayed, and couldn't be adopted yet. I don't remember why I was unable to "reserve" her, but I filled out some initial paperwork and the shelter just told me to come back in 2 days and that as long as she was still available, I could start the adoption process then. As I left, I saw the Dominican-American family taking her out for a walk. And I forget if I overheard a conversation there or maybe we re-encountered each other in the administrative offices, but I somehow knew that they also had their eye on the soon-to-be-Sancha.
Anyway, fast forward two days. I got to the shelter at 9am sharp, to make sure nobody beat me to my dog. And sure enough, as I was entering the elevator, I saw the same Dominican family, just entering the building. And I can see it slo-mo: the kid's hand reaching out saying "hold the elevator!" and ...I am not proud of this but I started pushing the "Close door" button frantically, and the family drew nearer, and the doors began to close, and I pushed more, and the doors shut, the elevator engaged and began to rise...and the rest is our story.
I never saw them again. I hope they found their own Sancha. I suppose I feel bad. But I would do it again every time.