A long time ago, shortly after we got married, my husband and I adopted a dog together. This was a Very Big Deal, for we had spent nearly every Saturday at the county animal shelter walking dogs, talking to potential adopters, and helping each person find The Right Dog for them since soon after we started graduate school. We would walk dogs in pairs, putting them on long leashes and letting them romp a bit out in the frosty air. We would rub them down and brush them and bring them treats, but most of all we would help them run off some energy, wild and free, for the few minutes that each could spend away from their cage.
Our shelter did not allow mercy adoptions, and that was a good thing, or we would have 50 dogs here at the house today. In fact, they wouldn’t allow volunteers to adopt at all! So it was that even though we spent all our Saturdays at the county shelter, we would often drop by the main city shelter downtown after work.
One day, I found the most beautiful beagle there. He was a beautiful dog, gold and white, with the softest fur, but all I could see were the eyes. The big brown eyes (of course!) that looked up at me and said, rescue me. Me. I’m the one you’ve been waiting for. And I could tell immediately that he was. I ran to the phone to call my new husband. Hurry. Hurry. He’s here. The dog that we’ve been waiting for. After a couple visits, a long application, and the interview that we had administered many times, we were together at last. The four of us. My husband, me, the puppy I adopted fresh out of college, and our dog, the one we adopted when we got married, as the cliche goes.
The years went by, and Kepler grew up, grew out of his bad beagle puppy habits, and became a wonderful companion. He was the beta to my first dog’s alpha, perfectly behaved (unless we left food out), and a great snuggler under the covers in the winter. When Widget was born, he followed him around constantly, no matter whether he was in Grandma’s arms or Grandpa’s, and lay at their feet until the baby was safely back with Mommy or Daddy again. He was so tolerant of that child — he graciously submitted to pets, to touches, and to the inevitable investigation of the dog tags.
And then, one day, he wasn’t. Our first dog had passed away after a short and hard fight with cancer, and we had stopped fostering beagles, which we had done for several years with much success, and Kepler just became … well, lazy. Or at least we thought he had. He no longer had a job, you see, since the first baby was healthy and well and safely walking on his own. The foster dogs were all housetrained and leashtrained and loved and gone to their own homes. Mommy and Daddy were set, and there just wasn’t much for an old dog to do anymore. Somehow he began to fade into the background a bit. We still loved him just as much, we did, but, well, you know how it goes.
And so it went, for a long time. Kepler just followed me around the house all day, lying at my feet, or keeping me company on the couch. He wouldn’t get up in the morning until I did, and he went to bed early with me at night. He cuddled up close, never asking much, just keeping me company.
Which is where he was the other day when we realized what he’d been up to for so long. This old, wonderful dog has been working all along … he’s been keeping me company on the long, lonely days when I didn’t feel well enough to get out of bed. The short days when I slept off the chemo drugs and woke only when necessary. The rainy days when I entertained my toddler on the couch, and the cold days when we made forts out of cushions and blankets. Kepler was always there, right beside me, or on a pile of blankets on the floor.
Kepler has been doing one of the most important jobs of all. . . keeping me company through this fight (and the bed rest that preceded it), and for that, I will be forever grateful. My sweet little Velveteen Dog has been with me the whole time.
On the topic of gratitude, I was delighted to see this weekend that The Individual Voice sent me this lovely valentine bling for creating community. How lovely! Thank you! I’m passing this award on to three very amazing women:
Jill Asher, co-founder of Silicon Valley Moms Blog, Chicago Moms Blog, DC Metro Moms Blog, and NY Moms Blog. I’d say she creates community … in a big way!
Laura and her mom over at 25 days to make a difference. A community is springing up around them as well, and they are making a difference in the world. Way to go, Laura — and Mom!