Like most people, Martha Teichner, a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning,” expected 2021 to be an improvement over 2020. For one thing, she has a memoir, “When Harry Met Minnie,” coming out soon. The book, a tale of two women devoted to their dogs who also become devoted to each other, tells the story of how Ms. Teichner, the owner of Minnie, a bull terrier, comes to adopt Harry, the bull terrier of a friend of a friend with terminal cancer.
The new year, however started out with heartbreak for Ms. Teichner. Another bull terrier named Slinky, a successor to Harry and Minnie, attacked her on vacation in South Carolina, sending her to the emergency room for five sets of stitches. The next day Slinky, a sickly dog with an anxiety disorder, tried to attack her again. After a veterinarian suggested that illness had probably affected Slinky’s brain, Ms. Teichner made the decision to put him down. “My world fell apart, she said. “I loved this dog.”
But the healing has begun, and Ms. Teichner’s love affair with bull terriers continues. This month she adopted Girlie, a homeless bull terrier found weeks ago in Long Island City, Queens. Ms. Teichner, 73, and Girlie, are currently getting to know each other in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan.
TAKING IT SLOWLY I used to start Sundays by throwing 120 tennis balls to Slinky in the back garden. The vet suggested wearing him out to help with his anxiety disorder. It would take him a half-hour to stop panting afterward. I haven’t tried throwing balls with Girlie yet, but we’re going on walks. I have to keep them short because my hand is still swollen and painful from the stitches. I can only keep three fingers on the leash. But I’ve taken her to Chelsea Piers, where I used to go with Harry and Minnie. She seems skittish, which tells me she’s not used to normal city activity.
FLOW CHECK, CUDDLES The walks have to happen before about 8 o’clock because I need to get my shower done before our show comes on. “CBS Sunday Morning” is kind of a refuge for people, because although we do have some political stories we are not overly political, so it’s kind of a safe haven. We have viewers who are red and blue, right and left. I watch for pleasure, but it’s also part of my job. I need to see how it flows. Girlie has been jumping right up on the couch to watch with me and snuggle. She’s draped across my chest, and I have my arm around her the whole time. Normally, it would take me a very long time to get over something as awful as what happened with Slinky, but I think with Covid and the isolation and the loss I just needed something to love, an animal that wants to cuddle. I can’t tell you how much I needed that.
DOG AU PAIR There’s a part of me that doesn’t miss traveling. Before Covid I was traveling 40 percent of the time so, since 1989, I’ve had a dog au pair. Just before Christmas, my au pair got a new job, so I’m looking for a new one. But because I’m not traveling, there’s no urgency. I can pick someone I really have confidence in. They get room and board in exchange for dog care.
WORKDAY My Sunday ritual for the last two years was writing the book. I would do practically nothing but sit at my dining room table writing. Before that, Sunday was my play day, and I would go to plays and concerts and have dinner with friends. Now, everything we do on “Sunday Morning” is pushed backward because of Covid, so you have to have your piece done sooner, so a lot of times now my Sundays are workdays. I’m getting transcripts of interviews printed out, going through videos for parts of interviews I think I might want to use, finding the good stuff.
SITTING FOR DINNER I like to cook, and on Sundays I’ll do something a little more elaborate, like short ribs or soup or something that needs roasting, as opposed to grilling a piece of salmon that takes seven minutes. Traditionally, I would share my dinner in the kitchen with a dog while I was cooking. Girlie has already adapted to that routine and is becoming very vocal if I don’t give her what she considers her due. I have been trying to teach her to sit by withholding treats until she does sit. My whole set of rituals has to start over with her. I have to find out who she is, what she’s like. I have to have her reveal herself to me.
THOUGHTS OF SLINKY I try to time the making of dinner so I can watch “60 Minutes,” but if it doesn’t work I’ll record it. Sometimes it gets screwed up by football. Then I usually like to watch “Masterpiece Theater.” And I’m always thinking of Slinky. He was with me two and a half years, and he was lovely and silly and he made me laugh.