I skimmed Racing in the Rain yesterday as I only liked part of it, but I loved that it was narrated by the dog who was convinced that his soul would be reborn as a man. That aspect was very endearing. It made me think about the role of dogs in my life, and the great love and admiration I hold for them.
When Creighton was in Iraq in 2003 I started walking dogs from time to time at Pets Unlimited(now the SPCA), and we agreed that when he got home we would adopt a dog. I knew the moment I saw Thea that she was the right dog; I believe that they choose us. She was scraggly, skinny, stressed, and sad, and my friend Sarah says we loved her back to life. She was a 1yr old Aussie chow mix that could have been part wolf or part coyote. She had been abused, and for years couldn’t greet us without being pathetically submissive. I have never understood cruelty to animals. Especially dogs who want nothing more than to please you and provide their love and companionship. So it was a privilege to love Thea back to health.
The night before we picked her up we went to a cooking class at Tante Marie. The fabulous Shelley Lindgren of the soon to launch, now famous A16 was doing the wine pairing. We thought Lily (inspired by tiger lily for her wild coat) might work as a dog name, but as we looked at our first wine with the label THEA we knew we’d found the better match. You can yell it, it is different but not weird, and it was a super tasty zin. (Tay-ah). Dogs are fur therapy at the end of a bad day. They think you are beautiful, smart, the perfect weight, and vastly interesting. They don’t talk back, and are the best listeners. When I miscarried in 2004, I remember Thea padding over to the chair and leaning her full body against me as I wept. She just knew. When we brought our babies home, each time we brought a blanket to her first to let her experience their scent. Then we told her that we were bringing home her baby and that we needed her to protect him then her. We set them in their bucket in the couch and let her smell and lick them. We knew our babies would always be protected.
For the first 2 years in our house on 6th, Thea zealously guarded the main floor and never came upstairs. The moment I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 she was faithfully by my side in our bedroom. She just knew. She stayed with me when I could barely get out of bed. She matched my pace as the chemo slowed my speed. She walked with me when my walks tapered from hikes to one sad block. She sped up when I regained strength. And in 2015 when the devil returned, she decided to mirror me and grew a tumor herself. Unreal! Creighton explained our situation to the vet. I took the call in the car as we didn’t want to upset the kids unnecessarily. And while I had stopped crying about my own tumor, I cried and slobbered my way through the conversation with the vet explaining that it was mandatory that he healed her, and that I couldn’t fight this without her. She came home the same day I came home from the hospital, and she was healed. At 14 she can barely hear (or is that selective hearing?!), but she can still trot along, and she sleeps by me during every nap. Everyday I thank her for finding me, and I hope that love will keep her alive a bit longer. Every night I thank her for loving us in case that is the last time. She and Penley compete for our attention. I’m the lucky beneficiary of this showering of love licks! So far having 2 dogs has only meant more love in the house.
It is worth mentioning one mishap from the early days. Creighton was away on a business trip. I went upstairs and found that his entire laptop (for some reason on the floor) was entirely covered in shit. It was a shit fest! Have you ever tried to get shit out of a keyboard? It is not for the faint of heart. Q-tips can be handy. So can swearing and a strong stomach. Apparently she was pissed about her person being gone. Some dogs love toys or dollies. My parents gentle Golden parades around with dragon dolly or monster dolly. Thea’s dolly lasted for one blissful evening. When we returned from dinner, Thea was barely visible in her cage amidst a sea of former dolly. She looked very happy.
Penley came to us from Canine Companions for Independence, and minus hip dysplasia is a heavenly puppy and an excellent sport. I see much wisdom in dogs, and am ever grateful for their unconditional love. Hopefully my platelets are up today and I wil restart my drug.