To complement our Sit, Stay (In), Treat Yourselves box, we are launching our Sit, Stay (In), Read literary salon featuring original writing from some of the most talented writers (and dog parents) of our modern age alongside original illustrations by acclaimed artists. We hope this gorgeous new series helps deepen the relationship between you and your dog, just as our Sit, Stay (In), Treat Yourselves box does. Feel free to make yourself a cup of tea (or something stronger), invite the dog on your lap, and settle in for the timeless tradition of storytelling about dogs and humans. First in our series, we are honored to have Carmen Maria Machado writing about her Beagle mix, Rosie. Carmen is a 2017 National Book Award Finalist and author of Her Body and Other Parties, the memoir In The Dream House, and the DC Comics series The Low, Low Woods. She has been published everywhere from the New Yorker to The Believer to Harper’s Bazaar, and is currently the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvia. She, Rosie, and Rosie’s other mom, Val, live in Philadelphia.
Within a few weeks of getting adopted, Rosie went viral. While I was in the middle of preparing Valentine’s Day dinner for my wife, she got into a basket that contained, among other things, a single weed gummy that a friend had given me months before. She sat on the couch, unrepentant. I called a pet poison control line, and then my wife, sobbing, and we drove her to the local animal ER.
“Should we make her throw it up?” we asked the vet tech upon arrival. The technician took one look at Rosie and burst out laughing. Rosie, chill on a normal day, looked like she was vibing in some distant solar system—unconcerned with human affairs. “I think it’s a bit too late for that,” the technician said. Rosie angled her head away from the sound. The vet examined her, gave her subcutaneous fluids and anti-nausea medication, and told us to keep an eye on her and let her sleep it off. When I got up to pay the bill, I turned around and saw what the internet would later see: Rosie, sitting at my wife’s feet, rear legs splayed before her, front legs straining to hold her thick torso up. She was hunched over with a high little slump, her eyes squinting against the fluorescent lighting of the waiting room. Our sweet and lumpy pup, in trouble and unfussed.
“Once she was ours, and once she got comfortable, she began to reveal a refreshing naughtiness.”
We adopted Rosie just before the pandemic hit. She was a roly-poly senior Beagle mix who was found on the streets massively pregnant with puppies, and a friend was fostering her. We’d been talking about getting a dog for years, but it was never the right time: Our landlord didn’t allow it; then, we bought a house; then, I was on book tour. Once Rosie had her puppies, and they’d been weaned, my friend adopted them out. Then, it was just Rosie, newly-spayed and looking for a home.
My spouse pleaded with me to get her—she’d grown up with a Beagle and loved them. But I was hesitant. I knew they were mischievous and had a habit of being geniuses at stealing food and wrecking havoc. And a senior dog seemed like a lot to take on. But it was hard to deny Rosie’s appeal: A sleek and narrow head atop a round, thick torso; a pink belly nestled in white-and-brown spotted fur; random old dog lumps on her haunches; huge dark eyes framed by distinctive white lashes; long silky ears and a bristly black chin and a fat tail. She looked—there’s no other word for it—miscellaneous. A miscellaneous old lady who belonged with us. We had a test-run weekend. She arrived with my friend and she spent most of the time sleeping off medicine that she’d been given for Lyme disease. So we said yes, it was the right time. And then the pandemic came, and we went from being petless lesbians to dog moms on lockdown.
Once she was ours, and once she got comfortable, she began to reveal a refreshing naughtiness. It is not unusual to hear the patient clicking of her nails as she wakes from a nap to explore the house, the way she slows down before a high counter, the distinct thump of her paws on some surface as she tries to figure out what’s up there. She’s broken two mugs, a planter, a ceramic jar holding her treats; she’s eaten wood chips, dead leaves, dropped dinner, the aforementioned weed gummy, and dozens of other food and non-food objects unlucky enough to get in her way. She has a spot by her lower spine that, when scratched, gives her thumper foot. She likes, as my spouse calls it, to be “involved,” plopping her body down wherever some human business is taking place, usually getting in the way. She has a habit of falling asleep sitting up. She sheds like a shag rug. She has a way of cocking her head impishly when she’s been caught in some trouble. She lets me ruffle her jowls and call her Stinkerbell and Buttface and Mama Rose. She wags her tail in her sleep. In the morning, when we let her up on the bed, she sits next to us and places her paw delicately on our chests until we get up. She will most likely only live a few more years. She is even more trouble and joy than I could have imagined, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Illustration by Jia Sung