Sunday, September 16, 2007
How my dog saved my life
We decided shortly after we were married that we wanted children, but we needed to do things in the right order-you know buy a house, etc. So we waited. When tthe time came to begin trying, nothing happened. We were told by the doctors not to worry, we were still young, etc. etc. So we didn't really worry. Month after month after fruitless month. On a visit to family, we stayed with my husband's sister and her family, which includes a boxer named Abby. Upon returning home, we decided we wanted a dog too.
I have always been a cat person. I am not a dog person. Dogs require a lot of work, cats don't. Cats allow you time to read, daydream and late nights. Dogs are much more in the moment. So, despite my hesitation, we went to the local animal shelter. Mentally, I had decided on a small dog, a lap dog, one that you can play dress up with and put in a purse. I was shocked to find myself falling in love with a newfoundland-lab mix puppy.
We took him home.
I was not prepared for puppydom. He cried and whined. His legs were too short to go down the back steps, so I had to walk him to get him potty trained. He was afraid of other dogs. He would do a belly crawl to get away from them. Many late, frigid nights I was walking him around our neighborhood tiptoeing around ice in order not to slip and fall. I was afraid for him. He ate everything, including a rock that was too big to come out on its own and required emergency surgery. I was heartsick as I signed the surgical consent form, but knowing our vet felt he was in good hands.
That summer, I started taking long walks with him. It was more for me to clear my head and cry softly to myself as each month of being infertile closed a door. I cried as I saw women pushing baby carriages through the park. I cried when I saw parents playing with their children. I would hug my dog for dear life some days, because it seemed like he understood my pain. He would tilt his head and look at me with mismatched eyes and tell me it would be all ok.
When my husband and I were told definately that we would not be having children biologically, I took Sonny for a very long walk. It was a cold, frigid day in November. Both of our breath hung like smoke in the air. I don't know how far we went or how many calories were burned, but I felt I was leaving a little bit of my soul on the trail.
We adopted a now 5 year old son this past spring, and he is my light and my world. It has helped heal the maternal part of me. I feel though that I have been neglected my first adoptee, my Sonny. We don't walk like we used to, and I know that we both miss it. He still looks longingly at me and still loves to cuddle. We do have a deep connection that time won't change. He still acts like an overgrown puppy, still eating everything, although we have now moved onto toys and crayons. He is 2 today, and I have been shocked at how this dog prepared me for motherhood in ways beyond long walks in the park.
I can't put into words how this dog has healed me. He made me feel it was ok. He listened to me cry and wail and rail against the world how unfair life was. He became my focus of my life, because I needed to focus on something else, something to let me heal, to let me become whole again. I look forward to when I come home from anywhere (even just getting the mail) that he greets me like I've been gone forever. He covers me in doggy kisses and his tail thumps and whumps and leaves marks on the wall. He gets excited for all the right reasons, and is always there to cheer you up. He loves his treats and his people. He has adjusted to his new life, and plays the big brother role well.
Happy birthday puppy.
You saved my life.