A christmas tree and a puppy.
Tuesday, 12.03.2013 - 11:32 am.

Like I mentioned in the last entry, I have a short trip today, to a city that's four hours away by car. I'm going with my boss, and while she is at some workshop at the university tomorrow, I will be applying questionnaires. Fun. It's just one day, I tell myself. Tomorrow night I will be back home.

Last saturday, Andrew called me at 9 pm to ask me to spend the night at his grandfather's home, while he took him to the E.R. I quickly packed some stuff and went. The grandfather had what seemed to be a UTI and they were at the hospital for six hours. I would have slept in the meantime but I was worried about the noises, about Andrew and his granddad and about my cat Nico, whom I was sure was left locked up in a room, because I rushed out of the apartment and didn't check if the two cats were in the living room.

So I went back home when Andrew and his gradfather returned to the house, at nearly 3 am. I arrived and Nico was sleeping peacefully on the couch. Then I got a call from Andrew and he told me it wasn't a UTI, it could be anything in his prostate, including cancer. Tests were needed. And he thanked me for staying in the house while they went to the hospital.

The next day, after having lunch at the grandfather's house (though he did not get out of bed, tired and disheartened as he was), Andrew told me to stop by the mall and get ourselves a christmas tree. I love chistmas decoration but the past two years we didn't put up anything because I was in my home country with my family, and even if I hadn't gone, the cats would make a mess. So all we had was a small snowman snowball in the bookcase, two stockings and some lights for a window.

But as Andrew was putting up his grandfather's tree on saturday, he figured, we'll be together at home this christmas, why the hell not? And he didn't have to say it twice to convince me.

Our first christmas tree, man. It's only 90 cms tall but it's pretty. We decorated it while the cats played around with christmas stuff. We took out a big box, wrapped it in a tablecloth and there we had a table for the tree. Under it I put a tiny nativity my mom sent me, it's like a shell that fits in one hand and it has Joseph, Mary, Jesus, a donkey and an ox. I'm not very religious but enough to enjoy all this. But mostly, it all reminded me of times with my family (like Brother #2 putting up the tree with such dedication) and that was the most precious thing.

Andrew and I stepped back and looked at the apartment. The cats were munching on tree branches. It looked so wonderful, the tree and the lights and the stockings, it felt like home. It already is, but with this...this was missing. He knows I'm brokenhearted about not spending the holidays with my family for the first time in my life. But he knows he is my family, too, and I think he tried to make me feel even more at home. Our home. And so, on the other hand, I'm happy to be spending the holidays with him for the first time.

Yesterday after lunch, I left the apartment and I was running to a meeting, when a puppy walked right in front of me. I automatically stopped, called him, knelt and started to pet him as I dialed Joseph's number. I was in front of our apartment building and Joseph was still home, getting ready to get back to work (we both work at the university and it is right across the street from our building; awesome). I told him what I'd found and he said: "no, honey. I'm taking care of my grandfather, you have your trip tomorrow...we're not in condition to do this...". We hung up.

He was right. I always run these things by him because I don't want to bother him. It's my cause, he helps as much as he can but I don't want to abuse. I know caring for stray dogs is a huge responsibility and it takes a toll on one's time and budget.

Still, I couldn't leave the puppy there and decided to bring him inside campus. He'd be safer there instead of on the side of a busy street. I'd feed him a little (I always carry sachets of dog food), get him some water and leave him in the gardens. Hopefully some students, or hey, some of the older stray dogs that live there, may be able to take him in.

I was on my way with the pup in my arms when my cell phone rang again. "Are you still with the dog? Bring him to the building, I'll come down with the carrier". I smiled with relief and turned around. We got the pup in the carrier and Andrew would leave him in the kitchen with food, water and something soft to lie in, while I came back from the university to take him to my friend Karin's vet clinic.

On my way to the meeting, Andrew sent me a text: "sorry about my reaction, love", which made me all soft inside. I went to the meeting and rushed back to check on the pup. I took him to the clinic and Karin was not there, but her colleague took me in. The pup was a little less than three monhts old ("right around the age people kick the litters out of the house"). He had fleas, a stomachache that made him moan and seemed very tired. It was unusual for a pup to be lacking energy, the vet said, but it was understandable if he'd been on the streets for a while.

He was to stay in the clinic for at least a week for observation, treatment and neutering. I walked back home from the clinic because I feared the bus drivers wouldn't let me on if they saw me with a carrier (bullshit, they've taken me before; and it's empty). I came back home exhausted and cleaned the kitchen and the carrier. And by the time Andrew came, it was like nothing had happened.

Still, at night, he apologized again. "When I hung up, I thought of all the things you do for me, and here I say 'no' right away when you ask me for help, for something that is important to you" (I've noticed it's important for him, too; he once found a puppy, tried to catch it but it got away, and he kicked himself about it for a while). Isn't this man a keeper? I understood if he wouldn't help me on this whole animal cause, but I appreciate that he does, and so much. I couldn't pull off many things if it wasn't for him.

Now please cross your fingers that I find a home for this pup. The biggest challenge is not nursing them back to health and paying for that, but to find someone to adopt them and give them a responsible home.

It's time to pack for the trip. And to pick up the christmas tree that has just fallen for the second time, thanks to the cats.

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