Several years ago I went to a Tig Notaro show where she had a bit about a dog. She asked an audience member if she had a dog (she did) and what the dog’s name was. After finding out the dog’s name (Wrigley) Tig turned to the wings of the stage and started to call the dog.

“Wrigley! Come here!”

We all waited for a dog to come out on stage, and of course, it didn’t. But that didn’t stop Tig from pretending to call the dog, even admitting how crazy it was that we would even begin to believe her.

Except we did.

Not just once or twice, but repeatedly. Consciously I knew there wasn’t a dog, but subconsciously? My stomach did a little leap of anticipation.

It’s human nature to get excited when we hear there’s a dog (or for some of us a cat or a baby human or tacos).

Even when we knew we were being messed with, the emotion of excitement would still be there every single time she called for the dog.

As fun as it is to be messed with, it’s even more fun to mess with other people. When it’s your own kids it becomes a special type of fun. It might be the most rewarding part of parenting.

Which is how we ended up with an imaginary dog named Wrigley.

I came home from the show, still laughing at the genius of the imaginary dog bit. It quickly led to pretending I had gotten a dog for the kids…. Which considering how badly my kids wanted a dog, was a little mean, but also hysterical.

It became a thing.

Not just for a night, but for weeks. Months. Longer than normal humans carry on a joke. But we’re not normal humans around here.

Wrigley became the present that was hiding in the garage. Who made a mess in the backyard that wasn’t cleaned up? Wrigley. And was the reason a kid couldn’t do something they wanted to do? Also Wrigley. Wrigley was always the answer to the question “guess what?”

Cosmo insisted if we got a dog we could never name it Wrigley. Wrigley was the worst possible name for a dog. No worse name for a dog could ever exist. Which of course made the game that much more fun. 1

Fast-forward a couple of months and Wrigley was still going strong, the most persistent imaginary dog 2 to have ever graced my house. Considering it was a rental and I was too cheap 3 to pay pet insurance/rent, an imaginary dog was a perfect solution. 4

Taking the joke on the road

My girls and I went on a long road trip up the West Coast of the United States. We left Phoenix, drove to Long Beach and took the scenic route up California Highway 1 and 101 up to Oregon, where we cut over to Portland and up to Seattle. Along the way, we stayed in a mix of places. Hotels, campgrounds, with friends. In northern California, we stopped at a hotel and as we got out of the car there was a man in the parking lot with a couple of dogs.

Of course, the first thing I did was ask to pet the dogs and asked the dog’s names. Dog number one was named Maisy or Daisy or Lazy or something.

Dog number two was named Wrigley.

The kids went crazy. After months and months of pretending we had an imaginary dog named Wrigley, we’d found a real dog in the middle of nowhere Northern California in a Motel 6 parking lot and this dog was named Wrigley… right?

The rest of the story…

Seconds before my kids got out of the car I saw the dogs, saw the man walking the dogs and assessed the situation. In that split second, I turned to this stranger in the Motel 6 parking lot and said, “In a second I’m going to ask you what your dog’s name is, I want you to tell me one of them is named is Wrigley.”

Fifteen seconds later I asked him just that. He played along because he’s just a decent human. 😉

That was December 2016. I didn’t come clean about what really happened until 2020. Somehow my kids are still talking to me.

But now Wrigley the imaginary dog is now dead in our memories. RIP Wrigley. He was a good boy.

  1. For me at least.»
  2. okay, also the only imaginary dog»
  3. and broke»
  4. This was long before our dog Susan joined our lives»