It was just for one night. That’s what Heather and the kids said when they brought it into the house. Brought its smell, its unceasing shedding, and that damn lolling tongue. They named it Hermie. I told them not to; that they shouldn’t get used to it. We would be printing out “Lost Dog” flyers and putting them up tomorrow. Somewhere, someone must be missing this little thing.
But dad, they protested, what if we can’t find the owner, and Hermie already loves us, and we can’t find him a home, and he can’t go to a shelter, and we love him. Can we keep him? I never thought that I would take a barrage like that from my daughters, especially not in my own damn kitchen. They played off of each other like Westbrook and Durant back before the betrayal. I looked at Heather, but she was apparently staying out of it.
I stood my ground. No pets. None. I’ll end up being the one who has to clean up after it, I said. No, the older one dropped to her knees, we promise that we’ll feed him, and walk him, and love him every day. The tiny voiced groveling paled in comparison to the tears running down their cheeks.
At this point I felt myself losing. I’m a sucker for tears, even those of the crocodile variety. Even acting tears in Heather’s rom-coms get to me. From my own daughter– fuggetabout it. I couldn’t be that dad, the dad that crushes dreams– my own father already owns that job title.
Alright, I said, ready to concede. How about this: if we can’t find the original owners in two weeks, then we can keep him for a while and see how it goes. If I feel that you two are responsible enough to take care of him, then we’ll keep him. Sound good? Oh, how I felt like a million bucks. I don’t think I’ve ever been hugged that tightly before.
Days went by, then weeks. The deadline came and went without a peep from an owner. Perhaps this dog was a wanderer destined to end up in our lap. Or, maybe, I was the only one putting in the effort to find this mutt’s actual owner. Either way, I’m a man of my word. We went out to Petsmart on Hermie’s 15th night and got him a personalized collar. Sorry Hermie, I whispered, as I wrapped the heart-adorned pink collar around his neck, but they picked it out– not me.
Months went by, fur collected under the furniture and leashes were only checked out of the closet by yours truly. But I will give it to the girls, they loved the hell out of that dog. Shit, it even grew on me– I mean he did spend the most time with me. Guy time– my wife would call it, chuckling to herself. Yeah just us on the couch watching ESPN and me stroking his ears. I won’t lie, it was nice to have a bit of company while the wife was working and the girls were at school. Ah– the life of a stay-at-home dad.
Cheers, Hermie. But, I fear I’ve left the floodgates open. The girls just came home with a stray kitten. Look at him dad, he’s so skinny. He needs our help. Yeah, and I need yours, I think. But okay he can stay just for this night, I suppose.
Prompt: First line: It was just for one night.