Sunday, April 11 2021

minnie 2

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Dear Journal,

Good afternoon, everyone. Happy Sunday. Today I'm coming to you once again from somewhere in the middle of Ohio, only this time we're barreling down the highway in the exact opposition direction. We departed from Pennsylvania this morning, leaving behind nothing but a room key and exactly one hotel pillow stained with puppy pee. With us, we brought one final pierogi breakfast, a few cups of coffee, and our brand new puppy Minnie. We got back to the hotel late last night, and since I knew we had plenty to catch up on, I decided to save the closing sequel of the Minnie saga for the long car ride home.

Sip. I believe when I last wrote, Marissa and I had just finished our very dissapointing Ohio brunch dinner, cut our losses, and pressed on to Pittsburgh through the night. I remember the city came out of nowhere. One moment, we were weaving through a dark, narrow highway through the endlessly rolling hills of the Pennsylvania country side. We turned a corner, and the sharp, gleaming tops of buildings came into view. We found a parking garage near our hotel. We were famished and exhausted, but after driving through so much of the bare open country, it was energizing walking around in a new city. We checked into the hotel and flopped on the untouched to collect our thoughts.

"I need to eat something," said Marissa resolutely. We dug out our phones and began to look around for something that was still open. Marissa called the front desk of the hotel. The recommended us the one pizza place that was still open at two in the morning, so we put in an order with tempered expectations. We took both the dogs for a walk while we waited for the pizza to arrive.

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We retreated back into our hotel room with a warm box of pizza. We were so hungry that we would have devoured whatever was in that box, and that's exactly why we were so surprised.

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"This is the best pizza I've ever eaten," said Marissa. I didn't reply or even acknowledge what she said. I was hypnotized. As I gnashed and chewed, that pizza took me into another world. It was like an out of body experience. When the wave of food pleasure subsided, I leaned back in the bed and groaned.

"That was ridiculous," I laughed. "What even was that?"

"And that's just what was open," said Marissa. "We picked that place at random."

"I have a feeling we're really going to like the food here," I said.

We had this experience with pretty much everything we ate in Pittsburgh. It's one of those cities where you really can't miss. We slept in and ordered breakfast from the restaurant attached to our hotel. Marissa ordered a "redemption Belgian waffle". I ordered a pierogi.

"What's a pierogi?" asked Marissa.

"I have no idea to be honest," I replied. "But I think it's kind of a local staple. I felt like I had to try it."

From what I gather, a pierogi is like a really chewy dumpling that is flattened and fried. It was served alongside homemade sausage, a runny egg, and grilled onions.

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After our breakfast, we leashed the dogs up and took them around the city. We didn't see very many dogs walking around Pittsburgh, and that's probably why Ollie and Ziggy got so much attention from the locals. We felt like a real spectacle.

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Pittsburgh is a beautiful city. That beauty is downplayed by dark steel and sharp angles, but the more you walk around in Pittsburgh the more you begin to notice all the little charming details.

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We walked to the bright yellow Andy Warhol bridge which leads into the city. We took our first photo together we've had in a really long time.

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After getting our fill of the city, it was time to jump in the car and make our way further into the country side where Minnie and Susan were. We followed an even longer narrow road through rolling hills and valleys. "It kind of feels like I'm driving through a car commercial that never ends," I laughed.

We would meet Susan and Minnie just outside of an agility facility in Lewisberry. Marissa spotted Minnie in the grass. She bursted into tears before I finished parking. Susan handed Marissa the leash, and she collapsed onto the ground for a long hug.

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We followed Susan into the room she was staying so we could sign the paperwork. She plopped Minnie into a metal pen in the corner of the room so she could have one last shared meal with her brother Trip.

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Before we left with Minnie, Susan took Minnie's mother Mazie out for a final goodbye. "I wasn't sure if I'd want to do this," she said. "But it feels right. I don't want her to worry about Minnie."

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When you're getting a new dog for yourself, it's easy to forget about everyone else who is saying goodbye to the puppy. It was sobering watching Susan and her dog Maze say goodbye to Minnie. It was a mixture of feeling sad and proud. In her crate we placed a bunny toy that still smelled like her litter mates.

I have more about the trip, but seeing as I'm already past my word count, we'll save that for the next entry. Thanks for stopping by today.