I lived in Alaska once. I stayed there for a few years because I was in love with a boy. One day he brought a giant white dog home who was headed for the shelter. The boy & I & dog ventured to the lower 48 & started the future I had carefully calculated. The boy & I didn’t work out but dog & I did. And so began the beginning of a lovely little love story – an unlikely marriage that has taught me more than any other relationship.
Dog is on the northern side of 80 pounds. He’s white with speckled ears & his most appropriate adage has become ‘The Great White Hippo.’ TGWH has meaty thighs & dimples of swirled hair on either side of his butt, if dogs have butts. He has such a solid head that one time he bumped my temple with it & after I thought I might have permanent brain damage. His skin is dotted as well. So much so that he looks like that time I got drunk & played with acrylics. Hippo has an under-bite & little baby teeth that I like to stare at because it just doesn’t even make sense. His life has been similar to those nesting Babushka dolls. Every time I figure something out about him I find another thing. The first thing I learned was that he really enjoyed Frisbee time. Next I noticed he has the biggest nipples I’ve ever seen on a male dog.
I picture that when babe was born he was the runt of his little puppy brethren. He gets extremely attached to the humans he loves but is terrified of almost everything on this planet that isn’t them. This trait has made me think of a feeling to what I would compare to a parent dropping their child off at Kindergarten for the first time – monumental & heartbreaking. When he flew here, underneath me in the belly of the plane, I can honestly say I have never been more terrified in my life. After I retrieved him from the over-sized luggage claim I took him outside & promptly let him out of his kennel. We didn’t have time to make it to the ‘pet area.’ He immediately shit his pants all over the snow right near the smokers. I almost did too but I waited until the truck-stop. Since our adventure started I have learned more than a TLC documentary on a Sunday night. Come with me . . .
I have acquired mad nursing skills:
Dog has been itching since he walked through my front door. First it was a trial & error of the correct food. Because of this he has taken to a mostlysometimes pizza crust scraps but otherwise grain free diet. I have learned what will & will not make him puke up piles of yesterday’s food on my bed & how exactly to get him to take his medication. (He prefers hot dogs of the high quality variety.) I have had to bandage his bloody paws, coconut oil his pink tummy & clean his floppy ears. He recently was prescribed a medicated shampoo that I am required to bathe him with every 3 days until it’s gone baby gone. While reading the directions, because I knew it wasn’t just lather & rinse, I learned that I must soap him up & let sit for 5-10 minutes. I’m not asking you to picture this per se, but I have one of those square shower stalls that is about just right for one human what with elbows & shaving & things. But then you throw in dog who is dense & angry that he has to get soaped & now you’re asking me to keep him in there for the length of microwaving a pot pie. I actually googled this time length & there was an actual answer. Go, I’ll wait here until you’re done doing it as well.
He’s taught me how to be just a little less selfish:
When he sleeps it is most definitely under the covers & his body takes up a majority of my Queen. We go through a nightly thing where he has his ass precariously close to my pillows. I then boot him off, re-make the bed & he climbs under while I hold up the blanket like the parachute in gym class. I won’t lie, he sheds like a son of a bitch & he is a master at cock-blocking if anybody is possibly a master at that. But he is warm. I stick my cold feet in his little dog armpits & leave them there until he gets up for his first of 17 times out of bed.
He has taught me parenting skills:
I have spent innumerable amounts of money on toys as he could probably be compared to a shark in a jaw:tooth ratio. I have had to literally wipe his butt on many a dewy morning because he had some stage-5 clingers that never quite let go. Just last Wednesday I pulled a piece of my own hair out of his doggy no-zone. I had no choice because if I hadn’t done it he would’ve continued running around with the poop attached to the hair swinging & shit-staining his coat. I’ve inspected that steaming morning pile to see if it’s solid or saggy or filled with pieces of those expensive toys that he decided to swallow before I could scrape them out of his jowls. I have always been annoyed at the parents that allow their children to run around with food on their face like little turds at restaurants thinking ‘How can you not catch your child?’ Last night while chasing him down the driveway & screaming through the neighbors yard I thought ‘How can I not catch dog?’
He has made me question my decisions:
I’ve always fancied myself to be a good dancer but he barks at me incessantly until I stop. There are never nights where I can just throw my hands in the air like I just don’t care. Once when I made a boy dinner, dog never even came out of my room & barked occasionally from his lair the whole evening. This has never been done before in the history of his anti-socialism. Needless to say, that boy never called again & dog asked for an increase in car rides.
He has taught me not to be materialistic:
Dog ruins a lot of my favorite things. I inherited a couch from the 60’s that had never been used. It’s velvety green cushions are starting to wear, some of its buttons have popped. Most nights he can be found rubbing his hairy body all over its plush seats while the foam flies out like pollen in the summer. He knocks over my wooden mushrooms that I snagged from a craft show & has since rubbed half the paint off. I have gone through at least 3 sets of sheets because he’s torn them apart & he has annihilated piping tips for my cake decorating. Not to mention he also sometimes eats my underwear & anything else I am openly attached to. This can also be associated with food that I love. Though dog is giant he is stealthy – he’s gotten the last of some cheddar biscuits, his own treats & a sugar cookie I had been saving all day. Dog is also not opposed to retrieving things from the garbage that he felt were unnecessarily thrown away (frosting, tennis balls, tampons . . . I usually figure this one out when I mow the lawn in the summertime)
He has taught me the art of self therapy:
I don’t know if you’re aware but dogs can’t speak. I pretend they do. I ask dog questions & tell him about my day. Once I almost called him to ask him what he wanted for dinner. I have cried a lot of tears into his pretty white coat while he just sat there & licked my face & then maybe himself. But it cured me. It is impossible to be sad when you’re in the company of someone who will lay weiner up for minutes at a time.
Dog knows no fear:
Many nights I will find dog sitting in my dark dining room at the table. When I go in search of him he usually turns his head to look at me like the beginning of some horror movie in which I would run upstairs instead of out the door. He usually stays there for an unnerving amount of time until I lure him away with a form of food. I can’t figure out how he can stand in the dark of night outside but tremble when a nice guy with a van offers us candy.
I could go on 87 pot pies in a microwave worth about how much I have learned from dog. How much I love him. How much zeal he brings to my pretty routine every day. I will never be able to chronicle to some why I question having children but will never question him. I have lived many days with dog & now I cannot imagine any days without.
If you have the opportunity & you also don’t suck, you should adopt a dog. It will change your world. But don’t get mad when it gets hair on your expensive duvet & wipes his undercarriage on your carpet at an impressive speed.
Cheers to dog. If you can read this, holy shit you can read?! I adore you.
-a damsel & her dog-