Memoir Contest Winner: Adopting Arthur by Linda Atwell

by Matilda Butler on April 12, 2012

catnav-scrapmoir-active-3Post #178 – Women’s Memoirs, ScrapMoir – Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnett

All Things Labor — Memoir Contest – Honorable Mention Story, PETS: LOVE AND LABOR Category

Linda Atwell’s story Adopting Arthur, A Labor of Love tied for first place in our PETS: Love and Labor Category. Women’s Memoirs is pleased to publish Linda’s winning story from our September 2011 Memoir Writing Contest.

Linda, we loved your story from our first read through of it and we’re sure our readers will enjoy it as well. If you have a pet or enjoy the pets of friends, you’re understand just how delightful this story is.

If you like Linda’s story, be sure to click the LIKE button at either the top or the botton of this page.

Want to enter one of our contests? At the bottom of Linda’s story, you will find details on our new contest. We hope you’ll enter.

Adopting Arthur: A Labor of Love

By Linda Atwell

memoir, memoir contest, memoir writing contest winner, storytelling, writingI grew up with dogs named Tag, Fetch, and Duchess. My husband, John, grew up with cats named Smokey, HarryArm, and Stingray-Varoom-Mitch-Thorpe. When we marry, I want a dog; he wants a cat.

We add a cat to our family. But no dog.

Every year or so, I say, “It seems like a great time to getta dog.”

John says, “We don’t need a dog. I don’t wanna dog.”

Our lives are busy. We raise children, build careers, take care of our home. Our rural setting is perfect for cats. I don’t mind kittens, but our cats don’t cuddle like the dogs of my childhood memories. They’re often distant, sometimes snobbish, only come around when they want, not when I want. I become frustrated with the cats, ask again, “Isn’t it time we get a dog?”

John says, “We don’t need a dog. I don’t wanna dog.”

Years pass with a new kitten replacing a runaway cat, or one that experiences an untimely death racing across the county road. We still have no dog. I begin to believe John when he says, “We don’t need a dog. I don’t want a dog.” He points out, “We travel. We’d have to kennel the dog when we’re gone.” Then he badgers me with questions. “Who will clean up the messes, schedule appointments for the vet, for grooming?” It will be me, of course. I’m the spouse who wants a dog.

One glorious day, after fifteen years of marriage, I overhear John say to a friend, “If I ever get a dog, yours would be the kind I’d want.” Shih Tzu. I tuck that tidbit into the hallows of my mind. The bells in the local church chime, the birds sing, and I dance a jig! We’re gonna get a puppy!

The breed of dog isn’t important to me. I’m used to mutts. But my research indicates Shih Tzu’s are good with kids. I can’t wait to see a canine lounging on the sofa–his lazy head hanging over the edge–adding a Norman Rockwell-charm to our den.

Most wives–whether they wish to admit it or not–know how to work their husbands. Over many years of marriage, I’ve learned what works on my man. Humor. John’s a kind, fun-loving, generous man; he rarely puts a firm foot down. Our goals differ on few, limited occasions. In the pursuit of a dog, I feel justified using perfected–get what I want–techniques.

Not expecting to find a dog in the first place, I stroll into a local pet store. Lots of puppies are displayed in the window: big ones, little ones, cute ones, homely ones. The last puppy, his topknot tied with a red bow, prances toward me in a happy-go-lucky manner He’s a petite moving ball of black and white fluff, with alert ebony eyes, tiny paws, a perfectly curled tail. He stands up, looks around. When he shakes his head, there’s a chain-reaction through the rest of his body. His mouth opens wide, and I swear he’s smiling. Tucking his head, he tumbles, his legs splay, rag-doll fashion. It’s a spunky performance. I clap my hands. Personality must be this little guy’s middle name, I think, realizing my heart’s twisted around his metronome-wagging tail, “Adopt me! Adopt me!” it seems to beg.

“Can I hold him?” I ask, cupping my hands. He’s no heavier than a stuffed animal. He licks my fingers, chews on my thumb. I stroke his soft puppy coat, smell his little puppy breath. I look into his ebony puppy eyes, see the ingredient I’m missing in cats. Love.

I call home. “Hey honey,” I gush. “Guess what?” I hope each, syrupy, word oozes through the phone line, makes him weak in the knees. At the very least, I hope my upbeat mood is contagious.

“The pet store has a Shih Tzu puppy for sale. That’s the same kind our friends have. Remember? You said you liked theirs.” I hold my breath, wait for a response, feel like I’m sitting on sharp pins, sharp needles.

“We don’t need a dog. I don’t wanna a dog,” John says. Click. He hangs up the phone.

Hmmm, I think. This may not be so easy. I wait ten minutes, call him back.

“Heeeey honeeey,“ I croon in a–you just might get lucky later–tone. “Have you thought about the dog anymore?” I hold the ball of fluff higher, look into his eyes. How in the world will I be able to leave this little guy at the pet store? “Do you wanna get a dog yet?” I ask, my tone sounding more desperate than sexy.

“I told you. I don’t wanna dog.” His voice is stubborn, firm. Then he adds, “If you get this dog, it’ll be your dog. You’ll be solely responsible for it.” Click. John hangs up the phone.

He said, if you get this dog, you’ll be solely responsible for it. John’s words swirl around in my head. He really wants this dog, too. Grinning, I count down ten minutes, call him back.

“Heeeey honeeeey. Have you thought about it anymore? Do you wanna get the dog yet?”

“Linda, if you wanna get the damn dog, get it.” Click. John hangs up the phone.

lifewriting, memoir, memoir contest, memoir writing contest winner, storytelling, writingYippee! A dog. Our dog. The small fluffy pup, with little puppy breath is adopted by us. We name him Arthur Evert Gizmo Atwell, call him Art for short.

And my husband, well …when Arthur first enters our home, John eyes him suspiciously, remains distant, reserved. For ten whole minutes. Then he picks Arthur up, strokes his fur, holds him during the Huskies football game. From that moment on, John and Art are like “peas and carrots.”

how to write a memoir, memoir, memoir contest, memoir writing contest winner, storytelling, writingAt night, John corrects his junior high student’s history papers while Arthur sits on the highest spot of the sofa, lays his head on the top of John’s. When John’s head turns, Arthur’s turns. Arthur trots after my husband–follows him from room to room–barely keeping pace on short, puppy legs. John takes Arthur for walks, properly disposes of any messes. His actions don’t resemble a man whose mantra was, “We don’t need a dog. I don’t wanna dog.”

John claims no recollection of any resistance to the idea of a dog. Arthur’s the king of our castle, a loyal lap friend, and a pretentious watchdog (he barks impressively when the doorbell rings).

I love my husband. I love our dog. Life is good.

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing


Women’s Memoirs invites you to send us a 500-1000 word memoir vignette about your favorite recipe — plus include the recipe.

Do you have a nostalgic dish that reminds you of your mother? Do you remember a romantic Valentine’s Day when you made a special recipe? Perhaps he proposed that evening or maybe each time you make that recipe you remind yourself again how much you love each other. Have you developed a recipe that you share with your friends? Whatever your story, whatever your recipe, we’d like to receive them for consideration in a new ebook from Women’s Memoirs.

ScrapMoir-Contest-ChartHere’s the inspiration for this contest. We learned recently that more people are eating out than ever before. As you can see from the chart on the left, away-from-home food (this includes take out as well as restaurant meals) is almost half of all food consumed.

Let’s give everyone some great food to prepare and eat at home and let’s give them stories to share while they start creating their own special family stories around meals.

Let’s bring back kitchen table wisdom.

Your memoir story and recipe are due by July 1, 2012. Just email a .doc file that includes both the story and the recipe to:
matilda (at) womensmemoirs (dot) com.

Food Memoir and Recipe Contest

(If you use a different subject line, your story might get lost in my email.)

storytelling, memoir, memoir writing

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