Puppies, then and now
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Puppies, then and now

In Manhattan’s Upper East Side, on Lexington Avenue, there is a pet store called American Kennels.

In the window of this establishment, you can always find adorable puppies frolicking in heaps of shredded paper. You could stand there for hours just watching these precious animals nip at each other, chase whatever toy has been left for them, and wonder what it must be like to, well, live in a window.

When I was little, my maternal grandfather used to walk me to this store and we would watch the puppies. He walked with a cane and this activity was only one block from his apartment, so it was the perfect outing. We would talk about buying one of these cute doggies and hiding it from my grandmother by having it live in a closet. This was not realistic, of course, but in the mind of a little girl, it was quite the fantasy. This grandfather was also the one who would sneak me Hershey’s miniatures when my grandmother was napping. He was the sweetest man.

What is amazing is that all these years later, American Kennels is still there, and when I am in the neighborhood, I walk over and stand at the window, wondering how I could hide a puppy from Husband #1. Though I haven’t been to that neck of the woods since right before the pandemic, so it might’ve closed in the last three years, who knows, totally not relevant.

When my boys were little, I used to take them to the pet store next to the movie theater at the Garden State Plaza. That was the best activity for them because they would try to find three matching puppies and compare them to themselves, either getting along, or trying to bite the other’s ear off. You know, brotherly behavior. Husband #1 loved when I brought them there because it didn’t cost him anything.

A few months ago, I was in the mall with Strudel, I took her to the pet store next to the movie theater and, well, it wasn’t there anymore. It was replaced with some store whose name I didn’t recognize that sold things I don’t need. But where were the puppies? Fortunately, I found them across from a pretzel place and Strudel giggled as she watched them jump around. I decided to add a trip to the store to the Camp Babka itinerary and we actually had a guest camper come with us. It was Son #3. My two babies together were going to watch the puppies play. Very exciting, right?

When we got there, all of the windows were empty sans some shredded paper and lonely looking chew toys. It turns out, according to the nice lady who worked there, that all the puppies had been sold and the new puppies weren’t being put in the window until the next day.

What? I had to believe her because what were my options? She told me that we weren’t allowed to see them because they had to be checked by the vet first. What? Come on lady! I shlepped Strudel and Son #3 to see some real-life animal planet — let us in the back room!!! Nope. No puppies for us. Strudel didn’t know the difference, but Son #3 and I were a tad disappointed. And Dil#1 wanted pictures and now I was going to disappoint her as well. Not looking good for Babka.

I guess the point of this column was bringing the whole full circle thing. My papa bringing me to see the puppies when I was little and triggering my imagination with dreams of buying a puppy. Me taking my boys to see the puppies and triggering their imaginations to only wear black and white like the dalmatian puppies. And now me taking Strudel to see the puppies to trigger her imagination. I wish I knew what was going on in that adorable little head of hers. But whatever it is, like my papa did for me, she will always know how loved she is and how important she is. Oh, and I hope Sons 1,2 and 3 know that as well…

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck cannot believe it is time for her to go back-to-school shopping again! Oh wait, she doesn’t….

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