On the Bus #6 – Adopting a Puppy or A Child? One Gay Man’s Dilemma

It was an extremely tough beginning to my bus ride today.

I was second in line to get on the bus and the only person who was ahead of me took my coveted seat in the very back. It’s the best seat because it can fit three people so even if a person sits there, you almost always still have an empty seat between you. I had to think fast as there were people behind me in the aisle, and made a rash decision to sit in a prime seat smack in the middle of the bus. It’s a risk because you are almost guaranteed to have someone sit next to you, but I couldn’t sit too close to that guy who took my seat in the back because he was pacing madly in front of me while we waited in line at Port Authority Bus Terminal like a lab rat on cocaine. Someone who paces in line is a wild card on a long bus ride. Avoid these people at all costs.

I lucked out today though. No one sat next to me. One guy almost did but then sat across the aisle from me instead. Now as I type this he is snoring very loudly and the poor girl in the window seat next to him is literally holding her head in distress. She looks like she wants to break the window and leap to her possible death on the busy New Jersey Interstate. If I were her, I would give him a quick, sharp smack across the face, and when he woke up, I would deny I did it.

But I’m a bit of a sourpuss today. I found out our landlords won’t let us get a puppy. Even though I really like our landlords and they are great in every other way, it’s challenging to not be mad at someone who says you can’t have a puppy.

The puppy issue started last week when my husband Saul and I were in LA. I am producing a show called Rescue Dog to Super Dog about rescuing dogs to be service dogs, and was getting a lot of pressure from the trainers I was working with to actually rescue a dog myself. People judge you harshly when you work at Animal Planet and don’t have a dog. Having two cats just doesn’t cut it. We lost our dog Sasha the day after Thanksgiving last year and wanted to take time to mourn before getting another dog.

Anyway, I decided last week I wanted a dog, and the very next day we happened to be at a Wolf Sanctuary (sometimes my job at Animal Planet is as cool as you might imagine—other days I’m filling out an expense report trying to justify to a computer program why potato chips are a valid breakfast when travelling). The man who ran the wolf sanctuary told Saul and me about Great Danes puppies that needed to be rescued from an awful situation. Believe it or not, Great Danes are good apartment dogs. They are big but docile and like to drape over you while you watch Gilmore Girls reruns on TV. (You don’t have to be watching Gilmore Girls while they are draped over you. This is my dog fantasy not yours.)

By the way, the Wolf Sanctuary was cool, but while I was there I heard a lot of awful things about how cruel people can be to animals. I won’t bum you out with the stories, but man I don’t understand it in the very slightest. I just don’t. I also don’t understand how nice people voted for Trump. Seriously it’s just a part of my brain that is no way developed.

So, Saul and I were considering this Great Dane puppy very seriously.

The next day we visited a bird sanctuary (thanks Animal Planet) on the grounds of the Veterans Hospital hidden right in the middle of Los Angeles. This place was possibly one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Parrots and macaws live to be 70 or 80, and their owners very often die or get sick or just get sick of the birds (those are bad people), and these sweet birds end up at this center taken care of by amazing volunteers who use them as therapy for veterans.

Animals are healing. It’s a fact. They should be honored. And these birds are like little 2-years-olds or like kittens that talk. They mourn, they get depressed, they get shy, they get close to some people and not others.  Like the vets they help heal, their souls sometimes get broken.

These birds broke both of our hearts, and we didn’t want to leave. I wanted to blow off dinner with friends I hadn’t seen in about a year (Sorry to Jill, Steve, Alexandra and Wulf if you are reading this blog). One bird was very sad and depressed after being surrendered by her owner and hadn’t spoken a word since she arrived at the sanctuary a few weeks earlier. But when she saw me–for whatever reason–she perked up and started talking. The volunteers were shocked! They said I looked nothing like her owner but something about her inspired her to jump on my shoulder and murmur HEY DADDY! WHO’S YOUR GOOFY GIRL? (Oddly enough this is not too dissimilar to how Saul first got my attention).

So many animals need love that it almost kills me. And I feel despondent today that we can’t rescue a puppy that needs to be rescued.

In an effort to ease my sadness, Saul asked if I wanted him to look into adopting a foster child.

Now I admit this is quite a leap, but it’s not out of the blue. Saul’s brother-in-law works with foster children and has often suggested we think about it.

It’s a humongous decision obviously, but not completely out of the question. Saul and I realize it’s probably a very good thing we can’t have a biological child with our combined DNA. Between our genetics and family histories, that poor kid would be OCD, alcoholic, addicted to several substances, and have to attend rehab before preschool.

Saul and I have also wondered what we would be like as parents. Which one of us would be stricter? If our kittens are any indication Saul would never, ever let our child out of the house. Ever. But he would give him or her lots of candy and teach them about Star Trek.

I would eventually convince him to let our child out of the house to attend Broadway plays.  They would be sure to understand proper bus etiquette and know some talking points about Angela Lansbury’s career so they would never be taken by surprise if the topic came up on the playground or baseball field.

I don’t know quite what is going to happen, but I do know we are both grateful for all the love in our life and feel a responsibility to spread it. (Except for the guy in the seat behind me now who is talking on his phone. I don’t love him. Several signs on the bus clearly say to keep your cell phone calls brief which he is not doing. I will not foster him even if he begs me.)

Saul and I love each other and our friends and our kittens and our families but our hearts seem to be clamoring for more. I suppose I have to be patient which is never my strong suit. Maybe this isn’t’the timing for a dog or a child (I’m pretty sure today I would resent this child for not being a Great Dane puppy), but I truly believe that if we keep our hearts open an opportunity will present itself from man or from beast.

Let me tell you the story of how I met Sasha the dog who died in November. I lived in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles and opened my door to discover a beat-up ragged pit bull standing there. I promptly screamed and shut the door. But the poor dog was so disheartened and desperate looking, I finally gave her a little food before leaving for work and then called my friend who I knew drove past my house every day and asked him if she was still on my porch. She was and I told him to let her inside.

Was I ready for a pit bull? I sure didn’t think so–not that morning. But she seemed to be ready for me and I made room.

Everyone told me my dog chose me. Later I found out from a neighbor she had gone to every single front porch on my block, but I was the only sucker to let her in.

So, I will make due with our little family of Saul and the kittens and trust our paths will cross with the others who are meant to join us when the time right.

All I know is there are a lot of broken souls in this world and if I live this life with the intent to find and help heal as many as possible before I die, I don’t think I will have too many regrets.


(Click below to hear Sophie loving on her daddy)



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Keith Hoffman lives with his artist husband, dog and two cats in the small town Lambertville, New Jersey 72 miles outside of New York City. He has completed a memoir entitled The Summer My Sister Grew Sideburns.

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