Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Yuki Story

Thirteen years ago, I met Yuki, a furry little fluff ball of only six weeks. He had sharp pointy white teeth, a very black nose, white eyelashes, black round-almond eyes, a curly tail, the fluffiest whitest, softest fur, and what's most incredible of all--he didn't yet know how to bark! No barking. Not even a peep. Nothing. From the beginning, Yuki only pooped outside; I never had to train him, he just trotted over to the door and waited for me to let him out.

I first saw Yuki on Easter Sunday, 1993. I was walking towards the Modern Languages building on the campus of the University of Arizona, on my way to visit a DJ friend who worked at the classical radio station, KUAT-FM. I was halfway across the mall when I spotted a white furry puppy nestled in the arms of a woman with a toddler in a stroller. I changed course and ran over to see the puppy. Within moments, the woman told me her aunt was the breeder, that they had seven more to give away, and would I like one. Would I like one?

I was going to have a little white furry dog. My first dog. I'd always wanted a dog, but knew I could never buy one (buying and selling beings does not sit well with me). The woman gave me her aunt's pager number, telling me she would return my call within ten minutes. She also asked if I'd prefer a male or a female dog. I didn't have a preference, but asked if there was a difference in behavior. The niece said that the females may be mellower. I decided on a female dog.

The next day I went to my job all excited to tell the residents and my colleagues about the new puppy I would soon have. I worked as an activities coordinator doing art and playing with adults with severe mental illness. I told them all about the cutest little fluff ball puppy I had ever seen and how I'd always wanted a dog. They were excited with me. So, I made the call on Monday morning, and left a message. I didn't get a call back within ten minutes or even in an hour. I tried again and again and again. Nothing. I called everyday, a zillion times a day for almost two full weeks. I wanted that dog.

One afternoon I was up on the roof helping Ray, the maintenance man, install a water pump on one of the swamp coolers. I was telling him how I'd been leaving messages on the breeder woman's pager, but getting no response. Suddenly, Ray's face lit up. Laughing, he said he knew what I'd been doing wrong and that he almost lost a potential job that way. We went inside to the phone, dialed the number and Ray then put in the number of our workplace. Sure enough, within ten minutes, breeder woman was on the phone! I didn't know the pager was a numeric pager, since I had never used one before. I had been leaving voice messages, probably pleadingly near the end (please, all I want is just one little white furry dog with a curly tail...), but the pager could only recognize numeric input. She had one puppy left, the "runt of the litter" she told me on the phone, "and not a female like you wanted." "I don't care, that's fine", I said. "A male puppy is fine."

And the rest is history. This little puppy bounded into my house, smelling fresh, so white and furry, and so-o cute. He was about 6 weeks old then. That night I lay awake thinking up names for my new puppy: Kyoto.... maybe, Nieve.... maybe, Yuki (snow) ..... hmmm. That was it! Yuki! I fell asleep with Yuki nipping at my toes with his sharp little needle teeth, with Yuki curled up at the bottom of my futon. For thirteen years, Yuki. Yuke-ster. My furry white fluff ball.


Annie B said...

What a great story. My yellow lab Ty was also the last pup left in his litter. Something about that makes the sense of destiny feel even stronger, I think.

Nicole Raisin Stern said...

Yep, Yuki and I were meant to be. Then Jesse came along and we became three. I love that photo of Ty as a pup looking like he's not too sure he wants to go home with you.