Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ode to a Dog

I was born in the Chinese Year of the Dog so it makes sense that I am a dog lover. Ever since I was a little girl I have been crazy about dogs. Even after having been bitten by a little yappy poodly thing at a neighbor's house, my love for the canine did not diminsh. (However,that may be the reason that toys sized dogs aren't my favorite.) I can't remember not having dog growing up. There was Ginni, a black Standard Poodle who was my pillow and my horse until I was 6. Shortly there after we got Barry, another Standard Poodle that had a little too much inbreeding for my parent's taste. He wasn't like Ginni at all, and I was the only one who didn't care that he raced around the dining room table a thousand times, OCD style, whenever my dad stepped foot in the house. I also didn't care that he pee'd on my dad's side of the bed and generally freaked whenever there was a man around. When I got wind that my parents were going to give him away, I packed my turqoise green bag that smelled like plastic and had a cracked strap and a broken zipper with some underwear, a pair of socks, a sweater and some shorts and was ready to run away with him. I got as far as our camper trailer stored on the side of the house. Barry and I hid out until dinner. They gave him away the next day, and the next week his new owners brought him back. I thought it was divine intervention, my parents thought it was proof he was a whack job. They found someone else to take him. We found out later that he died after jumping out of a pickup and got hit by a car. He was dumb dog, but I loved him.

After a year of begging and crying and moping, and hanging out in our neighbor's garage everyday with their dog Martha, my parents brought me home a beagle mix from the pound. She was the most beautiful creature in the universe. And she loved me as much as I loved her. We played in the backyard, she sat under our neighbor's apple tree as I climbed it to pick apples or just sit in and think. I drew pictures of her in school and worried about her when I was away. Even my grandparents from Germany loved her, and they weren't animal people. I had her until I was seventeen. She became diabetic and blind and miserable. I had to put her down after school on the Thursday. I still have her collar some twenty years later.

When we moved to Portland after I graduated high school, I was very depressed and lost. I had always dreamed of moving out of Montana when I lived there. I hated Montana, and my life. I wanted to move to the Oregon coast, wear a fisheman knit sweater and have a red dog. But when we did move I didn't want to leave my boyfriend, was stuggling with bulemia and was generally miserable. On my first birthday in Oregon-a particularily grey and rainy day- a red Golden Retriever showed up on our doorstep. We put up fliers and tried to find his owner, but no one claimed him. So we named him Max and he was mine. He was my angel dog and we took lots of walks along Lake Oswego and romps on Cannon Beach. He alone helped heal my broken heart of moving and general teenaged angst. When I moved to California with a Sailor two years later, my parents gave him to a boy in wheelchair so he could again be an angel for someone else.

When I finally settled down in my late twenties, my now husband and I got a dog. Allan, I must admit, agreed under duress. I moped and cried and pouted like those many years ago when I was eight. I finally got my way and once again got a sweet girl from the pound. Allan named was Maya and she was my first 'baby.' We hiked and walked on the beach. She was a frisby kinda girl and would chase it for hours. She also liked ice cream and when I was pregnant with my eldest we would go through the drive through at McDonald's and get vanilla cones. One for me and one for her. I held hers as she licked it. We always got a good laugh from passersby. She was a great babysitter when the babies came. She was as proud a mama as I was. Just as neurotic, too. She barked at them if they wandered a little too far away. I had to put her down two years ago in October. It was another difficut time as I had her longer than I had my boys. I have her collar still, too.

Six months later, unable to take the silence of clinking nails on the floor or being greated at the door by a wriggling four legged friend, we adopted another dog. Dante picked him out this time. We found him on online dating for dogs, basically. He was a mess of matted hair and darting eyes. I wasn't so sure, but Dante was adamant that he was the one. He named him Rocket. And it was a great choice. Rocket has proven that the dog you have at the moment is the best dog you have every had. After a shave and a wash, he cleaned up well. He learned his name in a day and was sorry after the first poop and pee in the house. He is a handsome fellow and settled into our family nicely. He loves the car and the kids and I once again have a four legged shadow.

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