Authors: Danielle Steel
Copyright © 2013 by Danielle Steel
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
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colophon are registered trademarks of Random House LLC.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA
Pure joy : The dogs we love / Danielle Steel.
ISBN 978-0-345-54375-2 (acid-free paper) —
ISBN 978-0-345-54376-9 (eBook) 1. Steel, Danielle.
2. Steel, Danielle—Family. 3. Dogs. 4. Human-animal relationships. 5. Dog owners—Biography. 6. Authors, American—Biography. I. Title.
Jacket design: Derek Walls
Jacket photo: Alessandro Calderano
Minnie in the Paris apartment kitchen, next to my desk, in her favorite bed
There have always been somewhat comedic aspects to my life, although sometimes I don’t see it that way. A family of nine children, eleven dogs at one time, and a Vietnamese potbellied pig was bound to create some unusual situations, which even I found funny at the time. Someone once suggested a weekly TV series loosely based on our family, and we declined. Us? Funny? Of course not! Well … maybe a little. But it’s only now, when thinking about these situations involving our dogs, that I realize how ridiculous some of them were.
Most of the children have grown up, the dogs we have now are divided between their homes and mine (I often babysit for my “grand dogs”), and we’re down to more normal numbers. But it was only when a tiny eight-week-old, barely one-pound, long-haired white “teacup” Chihuahua snagged my heart that
I was inspired to write about her and share some of the other dog stories in my life. And just looking at her, you know she’s a star. Her name is Minnie Mouse, and her favorite pose is lying in one of her pink beds, with her tiny paws crossed, looking at me with big brown eyes.
I never thought I’d fall in love with such a tiny dog. When one of my daughters got a Chihuahua in her early teens, I objected strenuously to having such a small dog. I thought people would step on her, something terrible would happen, she would be too fragile, I insisted that you can’t have a dog that size. I discovered that despite her size, Chiquita, our first Chihuahua, was sturdy, had a big personality, and we only just lost her at sixteen. She was full of fun, healthy, and lively right to the end. She came to visit me regularly in San Francisco, after she and my daughter moved to Hollywood. Chiquita was a star!
But I still never thought the breed was for me. Whatever we decide we
want in life (whether it’s dating, houses, neighborhoods, jobs, partners, or dogs), the fates usually intervene to open our eyes and prove us wrong. So on a cold November day, at a pet store in New York, thinking myself hardened, sophisticated (and opinionated), I fell in love.
Two years later, the love affair is still going strong. The object of my affections is my now two-pound Chihuahua,
Minnie Mouse, who is the most adorable, lovable dog I’ve had yet. And the breed is even better than I thought. And she’s taught me more about owning a dog than all the breeds that came before her. There’s a reason why you see so many Chihuahuas on the street now (and cozily tucked away in apartments)—they are smart, fun, easy to take care of, and endearing in many ways. She warms my heart and makes me laugh.
While I turned down the weekly series about our family, all those years ago, I want to share with you all our slightly crazy and funny family dog stories, and tell you about Minnie and me and the practical things I’ve learned over the years about owning dogs.
As for Minnie, it is absolutely absurd that anything so small should own my heart, but she does. It just goes to show, never say never, or the next thing you know, you’ll be doing what you said you never would, owning a dog you swore you didn’t want and walking (or carrying) a tiny, totally enchanting little dog on a rhinestone-studded pink leash. You too could fall head over heels for a teacup Chihuahua, because owning a puppy, or a dog you love, is pure joy … that’s what Minnie is for me!!!
In the classic sense, I have never considered myself a “dog person,” in that extreme way that some people are “dog” people, or “cat” people, or “horse” people, where they go to horse or dog shows, are obsessively dedicated to their animals, and know everything about the breeds. On the other hand, I’m definitely not a cat person, because I’m severely allergic to cats. When I was a child, about five or six years old, I used to visit the next-door neighbor’s cats, and my eyes would swell until they almost closed, as tears streamed down my cheeks, my nose ran, and I couldn’t breathe. If I stayed long enough, I had an asthma attack, and then I would go home wheezing and coughing and barely able to see, and my mother would say, “You went to visit the neighbor’s cat again, didn’t you?” Immediate look of innocence from me between wheezes: “Me? The cat? No … why?”
I finally stopped visiting the neighbor’s cat, and my allergy has prevented me from really getting to know cats, so all the delightful things cat lovers say about them are unknown to me. And probably my most noteworthy cat encounter was at the home of Elizabeth Taylor. She contacted me years ago, to discuss writing a screen treatment for her. I was incredibly impressed and even more so when she invited me to her home. Nothing would have kept me from the opportunity to visit her. I was dying to meet the legend and see where she lived. I showed up for the meeting, and she was very nice. I was in awe of her, and we talked about some ideas, and as we did, a cat sauntered into the room, and I thought, “Oh no, this is not going to be good.” Imagined or real, my eyes and nose began to itch instantly, and I said nothing and went on talking to her, just as another cat walked in. And within a few minutes, there were four or five cats wandering around the room. I started choking and knew I would have an asthma attack any minute.