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Puppies in Paris

Those puppies really liked me

Those puppies really liked me

 

            When I was fifteen years old, my mom and I spent two weeks visiting my aunt in Paris. It was August, and my aunt told me that we came at the wrong time of the year, because everyone was away on vacation and there were no kids my age left in all of Paris. I discovered for myself that August was a bad time to visit because the heat is unbearable and my aunt didn’t believe in air-conditioning.

I remember noticing that there were dogs on the subway, but I don’t have a strong memory of the dogs on the streets of Paris. Maybe a lot of the French dogs were in the country for August with their owners.

A few weeks before we left for Paris, my dog, Delilah, died. And I missed her. The hope was that Paris would rejuvenate me, and Mom too. We would see the city of lights and be inspired, and hopeful. I’d spent two years learning French and being indoctrinated into the romance of Paris and cafes and the Seine and the museums. I didn’t know that I could still be depressed in Paris.

I had panic attacks. I was afraid of everything that summer: heights, food, buses. I was dizzy and sick to my stomach and anxious all the time. We found out later that my thyroid had burned out and that a lot of my symptoms were related to not having enough thyroid hormones, but at the time, I just felt awful. I was afraid to walk up the glass steps at a museum, because I could see the floor below me and I could picture myself slipping through the slatted steps to my death, like a long legged Flat Stanley. I kept trying to put my foot up on the next step. But I couldn’t do it.

It was a week and a half of that. Feeling frightened, and guilty for being such a burden, and lonely, and struggling to remember any of my two years of French.

And then we found the puppies. I thought we were just going from one flower shop to another. There are so many outdoor markets in Paris, for cheese and vegetables and flowers. But it never occurred to me there would be a row of puppy stores in the middle of it all.

Everyone in Paris seemed so aloof and sophisticated and cool and hard. And I am none of those things. All of my vulnerable, soft, lonely, hopeless feelings were rising to the surface. And then there were the puppies. And what are puppies but soft and loving and needy and vulnerable and desperate to be held and chosen and taken care of and shown attention.

I wanted to climb into the cage with the puppies and snuggle, but I was too big and the cages were too high off the ground. But I felt better. One nose kiss at a time, I started to feel better.

Poodles! In France!

Poodles! In France!

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About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

49 responses »

  1. What a beautiful story, so beautifully written.

    I love the name “Delilah” too. I once had a ferret named Delilah.

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  2. So sad that you were ill, heartbroken and depressed in Paris. August is not the best time unless you like heat and beating the crowds. It’s also a city for the young adult really, not children. At least there were the puppies 😉

    Reply
  3. Nothing quite like puppies to lighten anyones load in life. I hope they got the thyroid issue sorted quickly. How horrible to feel like that.

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  4. Puppies have a way to heal. Childhood experiences of unconditional love tend to shadow us for the rest of our lives. You needed comfort and warmth…and they provided it.

    And Paris is always a nice setting for a story…

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  5. I have no desire to go to Paris. It may be hot in August, but I’ve heard horror stories about the cold people.

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  6. Beautiful story, I love it. But then, of course I would! Dogs (and puppies) make everything better. 🙂 By the way, that’s why I chose Italy over France for manufacturing, friendlier people!

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  7. Such a beautiful story, it is surprising how a cold wet nose and a dogs kiss can make you feel.. Even at your lowest ebb in life, that unconditional love from a dog, makes the most gloomy of days brighter.

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  8. very sad, nothing sweeter than a pup to cheer you up.

    I was at a market today, however, and a lady had an old spaniel her daughter had found trying to make a bed for himself in the local park.

    We think the poor old chap had been abandoned! He was so confused but such a lovely old boy. I wish people didn’t feel that old dogs were no use, they can be such a joy.

    If we hadn’t just taken on and old dog, I’d have been more than tempted.

    I hope he gets a nice home.

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    • I hear more and more about people adopting older dogs. At the shelter I went to they have a program for seniors adopting seniors, with lots of discounts on vet care and grooming. I think that’s a great idea.

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  9. Great reminder of how healing dogs can be! Take a look at my newest blog about sleeping dogs and how calming they are. I think the pics will make you smile! http://4thedogs.wordpress.com/2012/12/09/more-on-sleeping-dogs/

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  10. I like to kiss my human daddie’s ear. Don’t know if it makes him feel better but it makes him giggle ( and sure tastes nice! )

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  11. That is such a sweet story! I can imagine feeling exactly as you do if I was there. I also at 15 suffered from panic attacks, and depression, and often found myself have such a thinner skin-emotionally wise- than others. It’s also around that time I realized how truly blessed I was to have this little dog by my side all the time. I’m really pleased I stumbled across your little blog, and can’t wait to get to know you more! 🙂

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    • I remember seeing a story, may have been on Oprah last year, about a woman who had an anxiety dog with her all the time. And I started screaming at the TV, “I want one!” If I could bring my dogs with me everywhere, I’d be going a lot more places.

      Reply
  12. Gah! I Swear your blog makes me want a dog again so bad. Stupid apartment complex and their anti-doggie policy 😦

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    • I’ve been looking for an apartment on Long Island and one of them said you can only have a dog under five pounds. Probably a misprint but funny. How about a teacup poodle? You could hide it in your jacket.

      Reply
  13. Puppy Power in Paris! Great story. – DogDaz

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  14. Puppies can make everything better *snoogles*

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  15. Thank you for such a touching story. Brought warm memories of our trip to France (when we lived in Germany for 4.5 years) with our German shepherds (mixes), Gretchen and Rudi. We got so many compliments on their beauty! The French love dogs! Well, just like Germans. We had no problem eating in restaurants in both countries- dogs ARE allowed to go inside!

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    • I can’t imagine the damage Cricket could do in a restaurant. The food part would go over well, but the other patrons? The waiters getting too close to the table? It would take about two minutes for us to get tossed out on our butts. But she would have loved walking around in Paris. The sniffing alone would have held her for a decade.

      Reply
  16. Lovely story!!… and thanks for visiting Frodo’s blog! He is a mighty proponent of having at least one human as a pet. I think that I’m a handful (wink) so he doesn’t mind allowing me to live as the “only human” for a while. And yes, I do believe that he would agree that humans can be great therapy for those with fur….seems like we were all made for each other! 🙂

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    • I feel guilty imagining that I am as good for the dogs as they are for me. But then they give me this horrified look when i dare to leave the house without them and I think…I am going to get a big head from this.

      Reply
  17. What a lovely post!! Thanks for visiting my blog! 🙂 Shandra

    Reply
  18. Pet Sitter Diaries - Pacific Tales

    Hi Rachel,

    So sorry to here about the passing of Delihah and your sadness prior to the puppies. It’s probably best that you could not fit into the cage to pet the dogs. I hear French dogs are hairy! Get it??!!

    With Warm Aloha,
    Pam

    Reply
  19. Great post, Who knew one could feel so sad in such a beautiful city. It’s a good thing you found puppies. They make everything better.

    Reply

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