The Velveteen Dog

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.

bloggers community

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:

Susan Reynolds, newly diagnosed with cancer, who has asked her friends and supporters to modify their avatars with peas … find out why and meet her community here;

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!


13 Responses to The Velveteen Dog

  1. Stimey says:

    Oh, Kepler. He has one of the most important jobs of all. Give him a good boy pat for me!

  2. BetteJo says:

    Pets are so wonderful, I swear sometimes they know just what we need. Sounds like Kepler is one of those. 🙂

  3. Dogs just know don’t they. They just know what we need from them.
    Hope Santa brings Kepler something delicious for all his hard work.

    Merry Christmas/Happy holidays babe.

    I hope that this year is extra special for you and your wonderful family.

  4. canape says:

    I so love that dog. He is wonderful.

    Our new Gibson reminds me of Kepler in many ways. He just wants to be with his people. All the time.

    Hugs and kisses to sweet Kepler from me please.

  5. NYfriend says:

    Beautiful story. Dogs are so amazing, they ask for so little and give so very, very much.

    Please give Kepler an extra hug from me, and I’ll give Koda an extra hug from you. 🙂 They are kindred spirits those two crazy dogs. 🙂 🙂 And in many ways, they remain in the same boat together.

  6. justenjoyhim says:

    Hi. I found you via Coco’s blog at this post.

    I was just diagnosed with breast cancer and waiting until Fri. (Dec. 28) to find out if it’s inflammatory breast cancer.

    Not sure what else to say. It’s late, I need to get to bed, but I just did a double-take with the IBC — not one that many people seem to know about so just wanted to give a “shout out” and hope that’s OK.

    — Judy

  7. debi says:

    What a great post. I feared for a moment it might have a sad ending. So glad it didn’t. Isn’t it amazing the way dogs just silently love us and feel what we feel. They are little angels on earth. Thank you for sharing your life. You are touching so many. God Bless you.

  8. ella says:

    It’s not often you’ll find me crying at 8.52 in the morning but this made me!

    Wishing you and your lovely family a very Happy Christmas, WM.

  9. Twenty Five Days says:

    Thank you so much! This is wonderful, and I can’t wait to pass it along. We love the story about your dog too. We love our dog.

  10. Mrs. Chicky says:

    You just made me very happy. It seems I try to explain to people on a daily basis the worth of dogs and most miss their special traits because they’re usually so subtle. Most concentrate on the obvious bad behaviors and overlook the very good ones.

    Kepler sounds like a special dog. You’re lucky to have found each other.

  11. Donna4k says:

    Iknow I love my dog more than I should..but she is worth it. Enjoy christmas and keep looking for the light at the end of the tunnel.(even if you need to squint!)

  12. Pen says:

    You just made me all teary. Have a wonderful holiday.

  13. […] responses Two days ago, I found out that Susan from Toddler Planet awarded my blog with this neat […]

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