Saturday, April 18, 2015

My dog, myself

My husband thinks I’m silly for celebrating our dog Sundae’s 1st birthday. He says mockingly, “Like she knows it’s her birthday.” I contemplated making a bone shaped cake with cheesy bacon frosting.

On breaks at work I would Google pet parties. The thought of a colorful cone hat on Sundae disappeared in an instant. She would probably chew it up and I would find residue of it in her poop.
In my over thirty years, I never was an animal lover. Until I set my eyes on her in the pet store on a sticky July Sunday.

It is hard to put into words what Sundae has meant to us. She has brought such joy and love into our world. Before the house was always quiet and often. My husband works a different shift from me. My stepchildren are only around every other weekend. As they have aged, the amount we see them has diminished. We have somehow arrived at premature empty nest syndrome.

The house now has dog toys spread around the floor and kibble pellets scattered. Instead of stepping on a kid’s Lego piece, I’m walking on a squeak toy or rawhide bone.

No longer do I hear two children playing or watching television. When Sundae notices a person walking a dog out the window, she whimpers. She is energetic and always wants to play. She wants all our attention to the point if I’m writing she will put her head on my hand. My stepdaughter used to snuggle and put her head on my shoulder.

Now in their teens, my two stepchildren are on their phones or playing sports. Sundae doesn’t replace them; she fills the loneliness in the wake of their absence.

 In the past year I have learned about unconditional love. When I fell in love with husband it was a long and twisty road. Our marriage and relationship with the kids have been about resentment and adjustment. Animals just love and don’t think about the past or future. They are very present and about the ‘right now.’ Dogs want love, food, and exercise.

Humans can be moody. When we arrive home we complain about our day or discuss trivial things. Sundae is ecstatic to see us. She jumps around as if to say, “Where have you been?!”
 I have heard tales of pets that start to resemble their owners. She certainly is a mixture of me and my husband.

She is impatient like me, she wants something and it has to be now. If I’m putting on shoes to take her for a walk, she paces between the kitchen and living room. She adores the smell of books. My husband and I are avid readers and the scent of inked pages sends her running. She sniffs the pages and turns them with her nose.

 Sundae is misunderstood like us. People think she is very hyper but that was when she was a puppy. Her short past seems to haunt her. No one will let go of the notion that she is not the same dog. Similar to others who think my husband is the same man he was a decade ago.
 She is sweet as ice cream, which is funny considering her white snowy fur with splotches of black on her mane.

She has the ability to soften our rigid edges. She has taught us act like a team. We are more affectionate toward each other and calmer. We love teaching her knew tricks and training her. She smiles when we are both home at the same time.

As someone who suffers from infertility, it is an emotional roller coaster. Oddly enough she has become our child. Obviously she doesn’t resolve the depression and frustration. She makes things seem worthwhile. We argue over how to ‘raise her’ or if she has been fed or bathed. He thinks I spoil her and I think he should play with her more.

She has given us purpose and promise of happy years to come.