Andy and I were sitting in his car, driving…somewhere. After I had thrown on yoga pants, a white tank top, and converse, grabbing an apple from my kitchen counter, my phone, wallet, sunglasses, and a hoodie, we went to his car. We stopped by his hotel so that he could change clothes, and we were soon on the road.
“Seriously, Andy, where are we going?” He smiled and rolled down the windows. He put one of his hands on my leg.
“You’ll see!” I rolled my eyes and turned on the radio. I sang under my breath, my white hair blowing in the wind. Andy put his hand on my thigh and smiled at me before looking back to the road.
Sitting in the car with him, relaxed, calm, and happy, reminded me of our first date. It was nothing like this. He had picked me up and I sat in his car, back straight, hands in my lap, staring straight ahead at the road. We made awkward small talk the entire way to the restaurant. I occasionally looked at him out of the corners of my eyes. He didn’t seem real. I had listened to his music for years and to be sitting in the car with him, on the way to dinner, seemed completely surreal.
“We’re here,” Andy said, pulling me out of my reverie. I looked outside to find us parked in front of the local animal shelter. I used to go to the animal shelter with my mom. We weren’t looking to get a pet, but she knew I loved animals, and I always had the hope that I’d be able to convince her to get one.
Andy got out of the car and came around to open my door. I got out and he grabbed my hand as we walked to the door. As we entered the building, the familiar sounds of animals hit me. I smiled involuntarily and Andy squeezed my hand. We approached the front desk and the woman looked up from her computer and beamed at us.
“May I help you?”
“Yeah, I was just wondering if we could take a look at some dogs.”
“Oh, absolutely!” She came out from behind the desk. “It’s right through this door here. Let one of the workers in the blue shirts know if you need anything.”
“Okay, thank you so much,” Andy said, and led me into the room.
There were rows of cages, all with dogs in them. We walked down the first row, looking at the dogs as we passed. Some came up to the doors as we passed, others were sleeping, and still others seemed too focused on their toys to notice us passing. When we reached the end of the row, I stopped and grabbed his arm.
“Why are we here?” I asked, my dark brown eyes boring into his light blue ones. As happy as I was to be surrounded by animals, I didn’t quite know why he had brought me here. He looked worried, his brows furrowing.
“I thought you’d be excited. I know how much you love animals and I just thought…well your birthday is coming up and I’m going on tour soon and I know you can’t always come with us so I just thought you might want something to keep you company while I’m gone. We can go if you want, I’m so sorry—” All while he was giving this speech, my smile grew, and I finally put my finger over his mouth so he would stop talking.
“You mean to tell me that you want to get me a dog for my birthday?”
“Only if you want one!”
I laughed before reaching for his hand and continuing down the next row of cages. There were all different kinds of dogs, all different ages. I didn’t even know what kind of dog I wanted, but I was hoping that I’d know when I saw it. We walked through the aisles, occasionally pausing to take a longer look at a dog.
“So,” I said as we meandered, “what made you come to this conclusion?”
“Conclusion?” Andy asked, bending down to stick his hand in front of the nose of a rather jumpy Black Labrador.
“Why do you want to get me such a big present?”
“Who says it’s gonna be big? It could be…” he moved to the next cage, which contained a Beagle, “medium. Or it could be…” he stood in front of a cage with a Yorkshire Terrier, “small. Hell, it could even be gigantic!” he pointed to a Great Dane, curled up on the floor of its cage. “I don’t know if you want to deal with something that big, or even how big a dog you’re even allowed to have at your apartment, but whatever you choose, I know you’ll take amazing care of it, because that’s the kind of person you are, Elle.”
“Damn…That speech was part Captain Obvious, part inspirational, and part amazingly adorable!”
“I do what I can,” Andy replied, laughing. I threw my head back and laughed loudly.
“But I didn’t mean big as in the size of the dog, I meant big as in it’s a big investment, both financially and emotionally.”
“I want you to be happy. I know it’s rough when I go on tour and you can’t come with us. So I want you to have someone to keep you company while I’m gone.”
I smiled at him and grabbed his hand as we continued to walk past cages. Then I saw something that caught my eye.
A small black ball of fur was curled up on the floor by the front of the cage. I squatted and put my fingers through the fencing and began to stroke the dog. It picked up its head and looked at me with bright blue eyes. I was shocked. I looked at Andy. His dark hair and light eyes had always captivated me, and I was staring at his canine twin. The dog’s tail started wagging and opened its mouth in a doggy smile.
“Male, four months old, husky mix. And he was brought in…two weeks ago,” Andy said, reading the card on the cage door.
“He’s beautiful,” I whispered. The dog put one of his paws against the fence where my hand was resting. I laughed and he gave a short bark of happiness. A man wearing a blue “volunteer” shirt came up to us and asked Andy if we needed anything.
“Yeah, would it be possible to spend some time with this dog right here?”
“Absolutely,” the man said, smiling, “I’m glad you two took an interest in this little guy. He’s a favorite among the workers and we’ve all been waiting to see who he gets to go home with.”
The man led us to a back room where he had us wash our hands before he brought the black dog in. The puppy immediately scampered towards where Andy and I were crouching and he sniffed us all over before licking our arms, faces, and whatever else he could get his tongue on. I sat down and he crawled all over my lap like I was his personal obstacle course. We played with him for about ten minutes before the man came back in to ask how we were doing. Andy and I looked at each other, smiling, before speaking simultaneously.
“We’ll take him!”