I decided that as a responsible parent I should wait to get a new dog until my oldest son leaves for college. It’s his last summer at home. We don’t need more tumult.
I waited until after college applications were done on January 15 and then I answered an ad on Craigslist for a puppy they had to give up because they were allergic. They wanted $400 ahead of time then they’d bring me the puppy.
Okay. Fine. So Craigslist wasn’t a good idea. Then I found a site that matches dogs with new owners and I got matched with a dog that was coming from Russia but would be in Maine, and I wondered, what did I say in my profile that made people think I’m an idiot?
A worker in a rescue center in Vermont yelled at me to stop calling about dogs online. They were only pictures!!! There was a dog shortage in New England and if I wanted a rescue dog I’d have to ship a dog from the south.
The American Kennel Club has recommended breeders. I called a breeder. She said, “A good breeder is not like an online shopping site where you put a puppy in a cart and go to checkout.” I replayed that conversation in my head a few times to see if I revealed to her that I was looking for a breeder that would let me do just that.
Good breeders have waitlists. So obviously I did not want to deal with good breeders. I had to deal with moderately good breeders. Like, people who live on a beautiful farm but keep the puppies in a yucky barn. Or people who say they treat their puppies like they are family but the family lives in squalor with the puppies.
Also, good breeders don’t have puppies in January. Pretty much no breeders have puppies in January. But that didn’t stop me.
I found two breeders that seemed not terrible and had eight-week-old dogs available. The choice was a Golden Retriever or a miniature Australian Shepherd.
I worried that the Australian Shepherd would be too much work, and I worried the Golden Retriever would be too friendly. I decided that we are probably sloths next to an Australian Shepherd but it would be good for us to keep up with her. And there would be no way for us to try to keep up with the social skills of a Golden Retriever.
One of the great things about being a woman with Autism is that I replay every conversation in my head to figure out what went wrong. I’ve been doing it since I was a child, to try to decode the social rules. So I’ve been practicing being a writer forever. Women with Autism are great writers because we write and rewrite scenes every day of our lives as a way to survive. Most great writers who are women have Autism. Makes me proud, really.
This is also why I did not ask anyone if it was a good idea for us to get a puppy. I could already play that conversation in my head.
Everyone: A puppy is a lot of work! You’ll have to crate train! You need a schedule! You can’t just sit around taking cute pictures for your blog.
My kids don’t want to take care of a dog, but they want to take care of me, so they agreed to help with the dog. Nino said he would not help with the dog at all. He said he hates dogs and we should get a cat.
We call our mini Aussie Tali Dolly. It is not a term of endearment so much as a linguistics experiment. I read that if you have a series of words that have vowel changes you need to change in this order i, a, o. We know this by instinct, which is why hop hip sounds wrong. I tried Tali Wally first, and it didn’t stick. The boys picked up Tali Dolly right away.
If you love language it’s probably because you have been decoding language your whole life as a way to figure out conversations. Really. It’s the backwards way to figure out social skills. Autism researchers call this masking and it’s why women with Autism don’t look Autistic but we are always exhausted — we are studying how to do language all the time. This is a test to see if you do that. I hope you love replaying conversations in your head, because if you do, you should take my year-long writing course.
I hope I love playing with puppies as much as I love playing with language. But if I don’t there’s someone else in the household who’s obsessed with the dog: