A long awaited puppy love

"What's his name?" we asked the young man at KLM park, some dozen years ago. At the end of the leash he held in his hand was an English bulldog, adorably plump and wrinkly. My daughter and I petted the dog, whose tail wagged furiously at us.

"Juice Box," the man said. My daughter and I replied with delight, "Juice Box?! What an awesome name for a dog."

The man laughed and said, "No, not Juice Box. Maddox." Or Randolph or Tree Tops or some other name that was not, in fact, Juice Box.

Didn't matter. From that moment on, my daughter was certain that it was her destiny to one day have an English bulldog that would be named ... Juice Box. Of course.

Years passed. Several pets (including an illicit hamster), two years of college and acceptance to veterinary school later, my daughter got her bulldog puppy. This will be, she assures her dad and me, her only "designer dog." All others will be rescues. I believe her. She is a woman who is firm in her beliefs and will adopt too many pets for her own good.

But Juice Box has been her dream since she was little. She has worked hard to save for him (and to accessorize him! Puppy clothes, who would have thought?). She picked him up from the breeder last weekend, and they stayed with me for a few days before heading back to campus.

I am in love.

First of all, let me tell you that Juice Box is unbelievably tiny. At 10 weeks old, he is smaller than a loaf of bread and weighs only five pounds. I cannot imagine him becoming the lumbering chubby fellow we saw at KLM so many years ago. But alas, I know time will pass quickly, just like it did when our children were babies. So I am taking copious mental notes and trying to remember.

He is extraordinarily cuddly. His skin is folded into waves of brown velvet fur. He has one white paw, three brown. On the white paw, his nails are also white, which makes sense scientifically but which is nonetheless super cool. He has a tiny bark and a loud whine, which begs us to pick him up and is kryptonite to his grandma (that would be me.)

God help me when I have an actual human grandchild.

When my daughter drove away, taking Juice Box with her back to her campus apartment, I was filled with a mixture of pride, happiness and utter desolation. As always, whenever our grown kids come back to visit, my home swells with love. Whenever they leave, the air seems thinner. This time was no exception.

But how lucky I am to have experienced my daughter's joy along with her, to get to know and cherish the creature who will be her best friend for many years. I am so grateful she shared Juice Box with me for his first days as part of our family. He is precious. Almost as precious as his mama, my sweet daughter, who dreamed of him for so long.

- Kelly Abate is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].