- The Road to Lila Bankhead’s Farm
It was my husband who wanted the dog.
“Trish, you’ve got to see this puppy I found on the internet,” Avi called to me from the family room. It was after dinner, our nanny was long gone, and I was trying to paint. Avi’s interruption made my brush swerve off an elliptical path. I wanted to yell at him but laid down the brush and counted to ten instead. I was trying hard not to snap at Avi these days. He didn’t need any extra ammunition for his discontent.
I counted to fifteen—just to be safe. “You’re allergic to dogs,” I said. According to Avi, his people were allergic to all sorts of things—dogs, cats, birds, grass, trees, sunshine. Snakes and guinea pigs were apparently okay. Once we had a snake, but it slithered away after two weeks. Our guinea pig died after only one month.
“This one’s non-allergenic,” Avi said. “A Labradoodle.”
“But then we’d have to tell people we have a Labradoodle,” I said.
“It’ll be good for Sam,” Avi said. “A boy should have a dog.” Sam was on the family room floor playing with a blue dump truck. He kept backing the truck over his stuffed dog, Doggie, then rolling it forward over Doggie, and so on.
What my husband really wanted was to give Sam a little sister or brother. When he proposed five years ago, he made it clear that two kids were the minimum. He believed that children with siblings (like him) were better adjusted than only-children (like me). With the flush of new love, a single red rose and a one-karat diamond in front of me, it sounded like a fine idea. But the last year of trying to meet his quota had stretched us thin, and I wondered how much give was left in me, in us.
“Look.” Avi pointed to a picture on www.labradoodle.net. “Isn’t it cute?”
I looked for other open windows that Avi tried to occlude with the dog—an e-mail or IM from a sympathetic woman he met in the Jewish Fertility [End Page 108] Forums. Someone or something that would confirm Avi’s suspicions that I was the wrench in his baby making machine. It’s not like I was sneaking The Pill behind Avi’s back or downing quarts of penny-royal tea, but every morning and every night I placed my hands on my belly and prayed. Please God, no more. Let this be enough.
The only open windows on Avi’s computer were an article about a three-way baseball trade and a picture of a black dog that looked like an over-washed Muppet. “He’s small,” I said.
“The Labrador is bred with a Miniature Poodle,” Avi said with no trace of irony. “I found a breeder with a nine month old available.”
“Isn’t that a little long in the tooth?”
“No, it’s perfect. He’s grown out of all his destructive puppy habits, but is still playful and cute.” The left side of Avi’s mouth curled up higher than the right, in a way that only happened when he was truly happy. He smiled lopsided like this on the night we met, on our wedding day, and when Sam was born. There must have been other times, too.
“Besides,” Avi said, “Since he’s older, he’s twenty-five percent off full price.”
Avi knew I’d always been was a sucker for clearance sales, even before our teetering debt. “Okay,” I said.
I went back to my studio and tried to sort out elliptical color, shape and space, while Avi arranged to buy our bargain basement Labradoodle.
Avi failed to mention two critical facts until after I had bought a doggie bed and a ceramic food dish and gotten Sam really excited about the new puppy: first, that Lila Bankhead—the breeder—was in Casper.
“Really?” I said, but said it more like a statement than an earnest question. “There wasn’t a dog in Denver or Pueblo or...