A year ago I was broken. I was overwhelmed with grief and I was paralyzed under the weight of there being no dogs here. Jakey had not been gone that long and the void in my heart and in the house was crushing me. I’d met dogs and all of them made me have breakdowns. None of them were the dog I wanted.
The dog(s) I wanted had died.
So I gave up. My exact words were: it will just have to be shitty until it isn’t.
Then I saw you. I was scrolling on Facebook and I saw you and went past you and then scrolled back up and then back down and then back up. What was it about you? I didn’t think: you’re not Jake. I didn’t say: it feels too soon. In you, I saw the love-child of my delicious duo. More so, I saw a tomorrow that you could be in. I brought you home (one year ago today) and there were no breakdowns, at least none that were grief driven.
In the first weeks that followed, my feet bled. This is not some sort of poetic rhetoric, they literally bled because you were insane and tried to eat my feet with every step I took. Every step. I remember running and hiding in the bathroom. I googled steel toed shoes. Steel toed footwear in the heat of summer = not cute. During those torturous weeks, you made me miss Jake more. I won’t lie, I did not love you. I regularly asked myself and you out loud, what was I thinking?
In addition to my bloody stumps, you had more energy than all the dogs combined times infinity. We walked non stop and still you were wound up and running zoomies. Still trying to leave me footless. How was I going to walk you with no feet?
I cried. A lot. About you. You were not at all what I wanted.
But then it was October. Then November. And we’d worked on you chewing toys and not feet and although I was still sad about Jake, I was not as unsure about you. December came and I still cried myself to sleep missing Jake, but I woke up smiling that you were here.
You saw me through almost all the firsts I had to go through without Jake. You were fairly insensitive about my sadness, in fact most times when I would cry you would jump on my back and chew my hair.
In hindsight, you were everything that I needed.
I didn’t need a hug. That was Melvin’s job. Melvin’s collars were too big for you. I didn’t need you to make me laugh, Jake had that covered. Jake’s jackets were too small for you. What I needed was a disruption to the structure of grief. I needed to go a little crazy. Who better to show me that than you? You are my boy in the middle. Sandwiched between your brothers. Sort of like that circle on the top of your head.
You crept slowly into my heart.
I didn’t love all the walks, but the fresh air healed me. I was not excited about how much training you needed, but it helped pass time that would have otherwise been spent wishing Jake was still laying on the couch next to me. I didn’t love that you were such a terror, but every night I went to bed, I was almost too exhausted to be sad.
You were not the dog I wanted at first. But no dog was. Today, I know with certainty that we were meant to be. Not just because you are addicted to surgery and I love going broke, but because when you look at me, my heart squeals. You are so much like Melvin, and so much like Jake, and nothing like them at all. Even though you never met them, I still feel like you are brothers, that you are connected to them, and I do not think I would have felt that way with any other dog but you.
Your story is the opposite of mine. You never had a family to lose. You never had someone committed to your health or well-being. You never had a home, or beds or peanut butter. If there is one thing I know, it’s that the universe will send me the dogs that others would not be able to go the distance with. I will travel this crazy life with you and your wonky Barbie legs, always.
I know you know you’re home.
Thank you for joining me on this journey of joy. You are a strong force in this army. You bring the joy AND the funk.
You own my heart. Sure, some days I am still worried you will chew it up like one of your beds or swing it around like one of your Jolly Balls, but as all unconditional loves go, I’m willing to take that risk.
Happy Gotcha Day, bud. I love you. Forever.