I fell in love the moment I saw those tiny splayed legs at the edge of the deck stairs. Puppy eyes are somehow larger than puppy heads, and they were looking at me across the yard as I approached with the giant delivery bags of produce. The little body was trapped between wiggling a greeting to a friend and tucking tail to hide. 

‘Ay chuchusa, ven aca,’ I invited as I put the bags at the top of the stairs. Dogs run in circles sometimes. I've heard there's some internal compass that matters to them, and this little hand-sized baby made 2 circles before I lifted her up to my chest for a snuggle. Knocking on the door, I continued to chatter, ‘Ay linda, tan cariñosa,’ as she snuggled into my neck.

The door opened, and Doña B started laughing a warm belly laugh. ‘Where did you find her? Was she outside? Mira, we need to get rid of our dogs. Do you want her? You should take her. My husband doesn't want dogs anymore.’

‘Oh, I would love to take this sweet baby,’ I said, ‘but we can't.’

‘Ask your husband,’ she urged. ‘I'll bring her to you Friday. Sabes que? We have a kitten, too. And another one.’

Looking over her shoulder, she said, ‘Trae Bella.’ A little boy's voice said, ‘No Mami. Don't give them away.’ Bella was another snuggly young baby, and the cuddly pup wriggled to get down and play with Bella. They circled around and around, disappearing back into the house.

I tried to put my case management armor back on and assess: Did they need help to feed the animals? Finding them homes? I found I no longer fit in the confines of assessment armor. ‘Do you really want me to take the pup?’ She said, ‘Yes, and Bella, and our older dog, too. Ask your husband.’

I smiled feebly, wondering why my own true north was lost in this moment. Right, I will ask my husband. Her husband looked up from the lawnmower he was dragging across the lawn and smiled warmly, and raised a hand in adios.

A dios. Ay diosa. Love is disorienting.