For about two years, I had half a dog. If you’re picturing only the front of a dog with no hindquarters, that’s not it, although that would make walking the dog interesting. What I mean is that my stepfather had half custody of my dog, Lily. For a long time my mom was determined to maintain the status quo until we went to court and got full custody of Lily. A part of me was dedicated to that course of action as well but I also suggested giving Lily to my stepfather and getting another dog. For years my mother refused to hear of it, insisting she wanted Lily and not another dog. I was attached to Lily too and I hated the idea of letting my stepfather win but I figured he wouldn’t exactly win by getting Lily and giving her over would make life easier for us,
Although I believe my stepfather genuinely cares for Lily, I also believe he liked the half custody arrangement because it allowed him to keep my mother in his life and hurt both of us. As the divorce drew to a close, however, he used getting full custody of Lily as a bargaining chip for my mom to get more money from him. At that point my mom decided to give him the dog and I supported the decision. You could tell my stepfather was kind of mad that my mom agreed to it because it meant losing the opportunity to continue to string her along. I knew that would be the case and I know that even when my stepfather wins he loses.
Finding a new dog was difficult because we both work during the day, we have no yard and we have cats (my brother’s cat Stella lives with us now) but eventually we found a dog named Mya. We fell in love with her at first sight and changed the spelling to Maya. She’s a brown mutt who’s a bit smaller than Lily and the perfect size. She had puppies recently and came to us unspayed. We later realized the rescue she came from is shady but luckily Maya is in good health. She’s also cute and sweet, if not exactly well-behaved.
At first Maya ignored Dr. Zeus but now they’re friends who love to play. Sometimes they play too roughly and Maya bites his neck but we’re trying to solve that problem by spraying his neck with bitter apple spray. We’ve solved the problem of Maya raiding the litter box by putting a gate with a cat door in front of it. We haven’t solved the problem of her stealing food from us. On New Year’s Eve my mother realized she’d stolen our Manchego cheese, earning her the nickname Maya Manchego.
Around the same time that we got Maya, a house right down the street from us that had gone in to foreclosure came on the market. My mom always complained that our house was too small. I guess in addition to having half a dog we had half a house. This house was bigger and had an upstairs, which could serve as a kind of apartment for me. We hemmed and hawed about whether we wanted to get it but ultimately decided to go for it.
We had about as much trouble finding a buyer for our house as we did finding a new dog. Ironically some of the potential buyers were a mother and daughter who decided the house was too small. We moved in to our new house without having sold the old one but shortly before New Years an offer came through. Then the divorce came through. So it’s no longer accurate to refer to the man who was married to my mother as my stepfather. Hallelujah and Happy New Year!