I recently used this little blue dog as a prop for some vintage photo earrings at Augenblickphoto, but no one who sees the photographs will know that I have a guilty little secret surrounding this dog……
Back in the late 1990s, I studied music at Mills College. In order to not rack up horrendous student loans (or at least keep them to a minimum) I lived at home and both studied and worked full-time, first at a bookstore and then later at a children’s shoe store. Once, on a rare day off, I walked down College Avenue in Oakland and wandered into an antique shop I had never been to before. Although the shop mainly had antique furniture there also was a small shelve of home decor. On that shelf was this little blue dog.
I instantly fell in love with him, with the color and the little details like his exposed ribs and the curve of his tail. My love must have been obvious because the man who worked there soon came over and talked to me about the object. The dog was from pre-war China and was being sold together with the little statue of a Chinese woman sitting beside it. The price for both together was $20.
I told him I was really only interested in the dog but he said he was only willing to sell them together. Afterward I mentioned that I also didn’t have 20 dollars on me. Would it be possible to put the set on hold? As an answer to my question, the man said the most amazing thing. “You seem like such a nice and honest person. Why don’t you take the figurines and bring me the $20 some other time.” I took him happily up on that offer and planned to come back sometime soon.
I did mean to go back and never doubted that I would. I’m not really sure why I didn’t do it right away because I thought about it often. Maybe it was because I was working and studying full-time (something I still don’t believe I had the energy to do!) and College Avenue was a bit off the path from the places I usually went. Maybe it was because, at the time, $20 was actually quite a lot of money for me. I may have been working full-time and living at home, but a lot of my money went towards voice lessons and I was constantly broke. Either way I never did make it to the shop to pay for my little dog.
When I moved to Berlin a year or so later I still thought about the nice gesture the man had made and about how I wanted to make it right. I definitely felt guilty not to mention embarrassed, but something had to be done. Maybe I could send the money anonymously or send by a family member or friend. One day, when I was visiting California I decided to finally get it taken care of. I went to College Avenue, $20 in hand, not caring if the man got angry (not that likely) or didn’t even remember me (more likely) or didn’t even work there anymore. But when I got to where the shop had been I saw that it had gone out of business. I hope the reason wasn’t because of the man’s naive kindness to strangers. Either way, this post is a small gesture to say I’m sorry. For what it’s worth, I still love that little dog and take good care of him.