My perfect pet was the Golden Retriever. They were the best dogs: Beautiful, loving and they came with special talents, like diving for rocks that were tossed into the lake just deep enough that we thought he might drown, but not so deep that we wouldn’t go there ourselves to rescue him.
But Rocky was not our dog. He was owned by rich family friends who had been carefully cut out of a Ralph Lauren ad and pasted into a mansion on the waterfront in a neighborhood with a private beach. For two summers in a row, we got to live at The Rich Family’s house while they sailed around the world in their yacht that the family patriarch had taken years to design and then christen Archangel. I was baffled by our luck — that my parents knew such people and furthermore that they let us live at their house for free — but I tried not to dwell on it because over-thinking good fortune tended to ruin it.
So, I took it for what it was, the opportunity to pretend that this was my real life and not the one that I actually had.