Tom Geller, dilettante and poetaster


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Big News: The Story of Chiq'nbone

Photo of Chiq'nbone, two-legged spaniel

By Katherine Taylor

Last Sunday, I asked Tom if he'd like to drop by and watch me teach a dog care class at San Francisco's Animal Care & Control. He'd always intended to drop by and this time he did, because unbeknownst to me, he had a secret agenda.

After class, he asked me. "Are there any dogs here now that you'd adopt if you had the time and the money?" I said, "Well, I've hardened my heart because I don't have the time and money for a big dog, which is what I always wanted, but I might be able to afford a rat or a cat or a tiny dog -- but I usually don't like the personality of a tiny dog. I've been thinking lately about getting a rat, though."

He kept pressing and I admitted that I did feel fondly toward a little dog who had tiny chicken wing-like front legs -- she was born that way and was used to it and was all happy and sweet in her cage. But it said "Special Adoption" on her cage, which usually means medical expenses, so I'd ruled her out, even though I have a special fondness for the unusual.

We took her out and played with her anyway, and when I saw her with Tom I fell in love with him all over again. Within a few minutes, we were seriously talking adoption. But first I had to ask about her medical. The front desk people said the only special part was that she would need gentle care and a soft area to run and play on.

I still debated. If I paper-trained her, I could just about have the time, but the set-up costs and adoption and spay fee--and what if I needed a babysitter?

Finally Tom said, "What if you come back and she's gone?" I said, "I'd regret it." He said, "So would I. Let's do it."

I said, "let's make a list of pros and cons to be sure we're being realistic." The cons were longer, but I mixed the list around to make the pros longer. We laughed and finally I said, "In my life, I usually don't go by what's logical, I go by what I want. And it usually works out well. I want this dog." Again, Tom said, "let's do it. Let's get her." But I still had lingering doubts about being able to give her the full care and attention she needed. Meanwhile, Tom kept excusing himself to make secret phone calls. He'd been doing this for weeks, and since he was seeing someone new, I'd assumed that he just needed privacy to talk to her.

We took her out again, just to play with her, and Tom looks at me and her together and says, "So I have to tell you a secret your sisters and I have been keeping. Your sisters wanted to get you a dog for Christmas, and they roped me in and swore me to secrecy. That's why I've been asking all these dog-related questions of you lately. That's what all the secret phone calls have been about. Kath, you can have this dog.

Your sisters have 50 pounds of puppy food in the trunk of their car, and almost all your presents under the tree are dog toys and supplies. I even brought cash with me here in case today was the day you saw a dog you just had to have. Otherwise, we would have just given you a gift certificate for Animal Care and Control." I started to cry, and Tom said, "Chiq'n, go to your mother."

We'd decided on the name Chiq'nbone months before in a brainstorming/fantasizing session about 'when we get a dog'.We'd even been using it as a computer password this past fall. It just happened to fit her.

It's been a week, and Tom and my sisters have been great about babysitting and helping me to housetrain Chiq'nbone. Tom is totally and completely in love with "The Bone." I feel very sweet on her, but I do think I'm holding back a little because I had to give up my last dog, and this all happened like a miracle, but I sense myself melting completely. She's the sweetest dog on earth. I always pictured myself with a rough mean dog I had to tame and train, but I guess no matter how well you think you know yourself, you can still surprise yourself.

So if you do get a chance to come to San Francisco, be prepared for lots of licks and snuggles from a ten pound animal that's half dog and half chicken -- Lucy P. Chiq'nbone!


(Full disclosure: Chiq'n and Kath moved across the Bay to Oakland, but I still saw them from time to time. Kath eventually had to give up Chiq'n because of health problems; the li'l 'bone now lives in San Mateo with a nice couple. --Tom)


This page was last updated on Friday, January 06, 2012 at 12:17am UTC. All contents copyright 2005 by Tom Geller.