Today is an arbitrary milestone of sorts. That is, it is the dog’s first birthday. Arbitrary because this is a guess. A quite educated guess, but a guess. Ironically, perhaps, I missed the opportunity to reflect on my own birthday, which was two weeks ago.
Last year I turned 30. I wasn’t freaked out by it; that’s not my style. It was more my style to make grand plans and goals for the year. “Start my 30s off right!” I said. I remember, vividly, making a whole host of goals and doing quite well with them. You know what they say about the best laid plans.
In early June we went on vacation. Drove home to see my parents, then spent a long weekend on our way back. As soon as we got home we went to the grocery store, and at the cash register my phone rang. My dad had been put in the hospital for a collapsed lung. He’s a lifelong smoker, although he’s finally trying to quit in earnest, and at 45 his doctor told him he had the lungs of a 98 year old man. Now, eight years later, every doctor says, first thing, “Those lungs are really bad, you know.” So the collapsed lung was no laughing matter, and no easy medical fix. I turned around and went right back home.
And the treatment drug on for weeks. The root cause of the lung collapse was slow to heal. It was obvious after a few days that he would survive, but he couldn’t leave the hospital. Every day the doctors suggested that he wait “just one more day” before they discharged him.
On the fourth of July, someone drove up to the house and put out a puppy. A tiny, helpless, (we wrongly thought) deaf puppy. No one could take him in. My cousin had just rescued a dog who turned out to be pregnant, so the family was “full up” of puppies. We’d been talking about getting a dog, but most definitely not a puppy. I wanted to rescue a retired racing greyhound. An easy dog. Instead, one thing led to another and we got Silas. I drove him 800 miles back home, by myself, having never owned either a puppy or an adult dog.
The time since then has been an adventure. A puppy was not on my “year 30” radar. My non-dog life has been all over the place, especially with regards to employment, and begin a first-time dog owner is a trip. Silas has not been an easy, beginner friendly dog. Even though we’ve had him his whole life, he has a lot of rescue-dog typical issues. He is fearful. He sometimes barks obsessively. He is awkward (at best) with other dogs. He has a sensitive stomach; it would be easier to feed a toddler. But he’s a very sweet little animal, and he’s very smart. He’s never laid tooth to a book or a shoe. He licks the vet all over at the end of his visits. He begs in the kitchen, but only for butter. He’s not the cuddliest, clingiest dog ever, thank goodness, but he is an excellent short-duration snuggler.
And he has the best ears ever.
Happy Birthday, buddy.