I sent the email at 11pm.
It was May 28, 2013, and I should have been fast asleep. Instead, I was seated at my desk in the living room of my one room apartment in fabulous Woodside, Queens trying to figure out the best way to prove to a total stranger that I was adequately prepared to become a dad.
A corgdad, that is.
"Hello," the email began. "My name's Nicholas Deleon, and I came upon your website while researching corgi breeders in New York. My girlfriend [Barbie] and I live in New York City, and we wanted to contact you regarding what the process would be like to buy a corgi from you, what sort of steps we'd have to take, that kind of thing. I'm not sure what your litter looks like now, but ideally we'd like to have one before the end of the summer (if at all possible)."
Three months later he was ours.
Winston, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who's made a handful of appearances on Motherboard over the past year, came into our life on August 17, 2013, when Barbie and I drove to a farm just outside of Albany to pick him up. But the first time I actually saw him was during the middle of the workday on July 23, 2013, when his breeder sent a few photos to show that he was in good spirits and eagerly awaiting our arrival.
"THAT'S OUR PUPPY?!" Barbie yelled in Google Hangouts, using all caps from her office in Manhattan. "He is so cute!"
"It's like he has brown fur but then stuck his nose in ice cream," I replied.
In the email accompanying the photos, our breeder said that Winston—we were deciding between naming him Winston and Bowser, with Winston winning because it sounded less "dog-y"—was "very sweet and loves to play."
Now, I'm almost certainly among the most cynical people walking God's green Earth, but seeing that my future puppy was "very sweet and loves to play" just about melted my heart. "I love to play too," I told Barbie. "This is great!"
Barbie and I moved in together in April 2013, after about a year and a half of me spending every second of every weekend with her in Manhattan, where she lived in a "cozy" studio. Given that getting a dog was very much on our agenda as a couple, it made sense to look for our first apartment in Queens, where I knew we could get something pretty big for, like, no money (compared to prices in Manhattan).
And we did! The apartment ended up becoming something of a nightmare, what with the mice and leaky roof and mean-as-can-be landlord. But it was big enough to get a dog. So we did.
It's important to note that the idea of getting a dog was, according to my Gmail and Google Hangouts logs from the time, something that Barbie and I discussed just about every single day of our courtship. All we did was talk about what kind of dog we'd want and whether or not we'd be good parents. I was supremely confident that we'd be excellent parents, while Barbie was less convinced. As weird as this may sound, what finally put us over the edge was attending a "corgi meetup" in a small Manhattan park one weekend.
Normally, you attend such a meetup to let your little guy play with other corgis and so that you can mingle with other corgi owners. Not us—we attended the meetup and initially parked ourselves on a bench like a bunch of awkward wallflowers, watching the dogs run around like maniacs and their owners make chit-chat with each other. Eventually, though, we got up the courage to talk to a few of the owners, asking them questions about what it was like to have a corgi. But what really sealed the deal was when a smaller corgi approached us and moved a ball WITH HIS NOSE toward Barbie.
That sealed the deal: a corgi was for us.
It took about two hours and change to get up to Albany from my parents' house in Dutchess County, and we spent the whole drive panicking. "What if he doesn't like us? What if we're bad parents?" But upon pulling into the farm we were greeted by Gino, Winston's dad who came up to our car like he was welcoming home an old friend.
Pat, the breeder, then came out of the house to see, for the first time in person, who these city folks were who would be leaving shortly with one of Carley's pups (Carley being Winston's mom). She was as sweet and caring as can be, welcoming us to her farm and inviting us inside for some refreshments.
And then came the handoff.
Winston on the day we picked him up!
On her porch, just outside the main entrance to the house, were a couple of crates filled with little corgi puppies. She bent over, opened one of the crates, scooped out Winston, and, well, plopped him in my arms. I had no idea how to hold him. At the time, Winston was so small that he could basically fit in the crook of my arm, like you'd hold a small watermelon.
After about a half hour of going over paperwork and some general guidelines, Pat bid us farewell. We hopped back into our car, and I went into the back seat while Winston slept in a little travel bag.
Nowadays, Winston and I are best buds; he's made a wonderful addition to our little family. He's always ready to chase a ball, horse around on the bed, read about bitcoin, or simply sit next to me on the couch while watching YouTube (we do that a lot).
The election this year has been incredibly exhausting, but no matter who wins, Winston's big goofy smile will be waiting for me when I get home.