Posted by: Kara Luker | March 11, 2020

The infamous craigslist puppy purchase

In light of my recent post about waiting for our potential puppy, as well as another about trying to satisfy a need with an ill-fitting solution, I’d like to share a story from a handful of years ago…

Chase had turned three a couple months before and I’d been in baby craving mode for a while. The problem was that we had already decided against having more (biological) babies and sealed it with surgery. It didn’t seem like the biggest deal at the time because we were most certainly going to adopt. But that plan had gone sideways and I was left with a craving I couldn’t satisfy.

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law who had lost her husband of nearly 50 years, very understandably decided to get a dog as a companion. I’m not exactly sure of my logic, especially since she lives across the country, but I appointed myself as her personal puppy finder. One day, during one of my internet searches, I came across a listing on Craigslist with a photo of some seriously cute puppies. It didn’t include much information like, say, what breed they were, which would determine their temperament, size, lifespan and other superfluous knowledge. But it did say that they were 8 weeks old, only $70 and available immediately. Only a 20 minute drive on that very day and I could be cradling one of these little fluffballs like my own newborn babe? It was all I needed to know. Oh, my mother-in-law? She could find her own dog.

I texted John a link to the listing with the question, “I shouldn’t go see these, right?” John, who was still under the impression that I was an actual grownup with fully developed judgment and self-control, responded, “Sure, go see them but then let’s talk.” Knowing about myself what John didn’t yet, I invited my cousin along, believing this would help prevent an impulsive decision, which I may have been known to make on occasion. “What incredibly mature planning,” I thought. “I really should give myself more credit.” Except that my cousin got delayed at a Bible study and didn’t return in time to make it for what was, in hindsight, probably a very flexible appointment time. Still, I think we can all agree that what follows is probably her fault for being so spiritual.

With only my toddler in tow, I pulled up to a small house on a modest street in Garden Grove and was greeted by a kind Vietnamese couple who spoke very little English and were unable to answer my questions. They did grasp my request to see the mama dog as evidenced by the appearance of a scruffy looking beast with a hand tightly wrapped around her collar, but my attempts to draw near to pet her were strongly rebuked. So all that was left to do was to avert my eyes from all the red flags waving wildly before me and sit on the concrete in front of the house, snuggling the soft, sweet little creatures of questionable origin. 

Although John’s memory omits the call I made while petting the puppies, I’m pretty sure it actually happened. But with no new information, all I could say was that they were really cute.  “Okay,” he reiterated, “we can talk about it.” By that, I think he meant later. You know, me walking away empty handed, like a responsible adult, and making an informed decision in partnership with my husband and, I don’t know, maybe some facts. But it couldn’t be done. There was no way. The empty spot in my heart had to be filled. That very day. I just couldn’t bear it otherwise.

A few minutes later, John received a photo by text. Of a puppy. On my lap. In my car. Where I was sitting with the tiny two-toned creature and a deep sense of regret. Instead of going home, which seemed like it would sigal acceptance of a really poor decision, I went to see my cousin who had since returned from Bible study. Sitting in the wicker chairs of her kitchen, stewing in the juices of my own foolishness, a lightbulb moment occurred. I could just take the thing back and erase all evidence, just like the impulsively purchased decor I regularly return to TJ Maxx. With a wave of relief, I texted the seller that my landlord said no to a dog; I had to bring it back. In reality, I hadn’t even asked my landlord. Shame on me for that and for lying. But desperate times call for desperate measures. The seller – understandably – didn’t respond.

So eventually I had to go home and, as they say, face the music. Can I just applaud my husband here? After his initial confusion of who this dog was actually purchased for, seeing as though I was technically shopping for his mom, he settled fairly easily into the new reality of the Lukers as puppy owners. Confusion arose, though, as to my unhappiness. “You wanted a dog and now you have one.” He’s very logical that way. But the truth is that I wanted a baby and now I had a dog. One that I’d committed to for 15 years (or however long cute, breedless dogs birthed by scraggly beasts live). 

Darkness fell as my denial raged. John finally convinced me of the need to purchase some basic supplies for this creature: Our dog. Which I reluctantly did, before putting the nameless thing to bed in a crate outside our bedroom. My sleeplessness that night was a result, not primarily of the constant whines emitted by the lonely animal, but of regret. One piece of knowledge rang through the circus in my head… instead of waiting on the Lord to meet my needs or direct my actions, I had taken it upon myself and botched the whole thing. Gosh darnit. 

The sun rose, finally, and I called every friend who might possibly want this delightful little nugget as their forever dog. To no avail. I then texted the seller again, with no response. Resignation began to settle in my soul, until the middle of a phone conversation with my mom when a thrilling thought emerged: “I know where he lives!” After hatching a simple scheme, my mom showed up at my house and we grabbed the clueless pup, latched Chase into his car seat and headed off toward Garden Grove. My mother-in-law, having been informed of the whole wacky thing, just happened to call as we set off. She tried to talk, but all I remember is her laughter tumbling out of my car speakers; every attempt at speech collapsing, over and over again, like waves breaking into the rolling whitewash of uncontrollable laughter. Our efforts to make the situation appear less absurd than it actually was drew only greater waves and whitewash that went on for miles. It was the perfect soundtrack to our Lucille Ball-esque performance.

We arrived at the humble home just as the seller pulled his minivan into the driveway. This was our chance. My heart raced as I grabbed the puppy from the backseat, giving Chase no time to say goodbye, gripped it like a football and ran like my life depended on it. I nearly tackled the slight man, who was now walking the short distance to his door, thrusting the puppy at him, breathlessly explaining that I couldn’t keep it. “You ask friend,” he suggested. “I already asked my friends. I’m sorry. I can’t keep it.” There was a moment of stillness. “I don’t need my money back,” I said. His demeanor changed. With a nod of acquiescence, he reached out his arms and collected his goods. What he did after that, I’ll never know, because I hopped into my car quicker than a bank robber and zipped away, probably shouting, “Freeeeeeeedom!!!”

Chase has no memory of our 24 hour, $70 dog rental. It was a pretty good deal if you ask me. The only evidence that remains are a few adorable photos and the story itself, which I will never live down. The experience has, I believe, spared me from a good many impulsive decisions, providing a haunting, ghost-like voice in crucial moments: “Remember the doooog… remember the dooooog…”

That was my last experience with a puppy. Makes you rethink my qualifications for the one we’re getting this summer, doesn’t it? Me too 🙂 






  1. I am so sorry I was late. But if I had been on time you wouldn’t have had This hilarious story to tell 😘
    Sent from my iPhone

    • So very true my dear Janelle!! You know I was joking about it being your fault right??!!

  2. Looking at the last photo, everything is perfectly clear.

  3. […] the relationship itch Chase had as the only child living at home?” “Would it be a repeat of The Infamous Craigslist Puppy Purchase?” And most importantly of all, “Do we even want a dog?” With a lack of answers, we always […]

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