Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Giving D.

Our dog is 15 and has terrible arthritis in her back legs.  And pneumonia.  And a large mass in her lungs that may be cancer.  And she has pretty much lost her hearing along with about a third of her body weight.

But she still wags her tail when she sees me.  And she still follows me from room to room, which stresses me out because I know it must take so much effort.  "I'm just running upstairs to put this laundry away." I tell her.   "I'm coming right back down.  I promise."   She doesn't buy it.  Never has. Wherever I am is where it's at.

It's been this way for almost 15 years-- ever since that day in August when my boyfriend/future husband and I brought her home from the shelter.  She threw up on me a little in the car on the way back to the city and I guess that sealed the deal.  I told my boyfriend that he had to agree now that if we ever broke up that she was my dog.  

Over the years that ownership grab has come back to haunt me a bit-- "your dog is killing all the grass..." "your dog needs to go out..."-- but like any young couple thinking of a future together, we doted on our dog.  Birthday cakes, dog-friendly vacations, photo ops, you name it.  We didn't go so far as to dress her in clothes; but I did try to get her to wear booties and a coat during that first winter.  Her expression was classic: no way, dude.  I took them off.  And the dog was happy.

Then there were the lean years for the pooch.  We had a baby.  And he didn't sleep.  He took up so much of my attention that I couldn't have given nearly as much to my dog as she was used to.  I even kept our midday dog walker from when I had been working because I just couldn't coordinate it all.  But still, I vividly remember one night crying on my bed in frustration as the baby cried in his crib unable to go to sleep or stay asleep no matter what I did, my dog came and nuzzled up next to me.  "How can I make it better?" she seemed to be saying to me.  I cried into her fur.  And the dog was happy.

For years the kids required so much time and energy I honestly don't remember how my dog fit in the mix.  I know her name was one of my daughter's first words and I know she is usually somewhere in the frame of most videos and photos from those early years.  So it wasn't like I stopped paying attention to her.  I just know I wasn't all there. But she was no doubt right on my heels, stopping to catch the falling Cheerios and goldfish crackers.  And the dog was happy.

Then the renaissance-- my daughter went to Kindergarten.  Suddenly I had six hours on my own.  We had six hours together.  Time to take those long walks together on the trails again.  Time to read a book on the couch next to my dog.  Time to unearth the chuck-it and feed into her ball chasing OCD.  And the dog was happy.

As I look back I realize that, over the course of her lifetime, I've probably spent more time with my dog than with anybody else.  She has given me unconditional love, countless moments of pure joy, way more smelly dog-breath kisses than I would have liked, and someone to talk to as I slog through the mundane tasks of running a house.

I know someday I'm going to have to let her go.  But for now, her tail is wagging. 

And I am happy.

No comments:

Post a Comment