I don't know what I would have done this past year without my pups. I can't really remember life without them. Although they can be a handful at times (keep reading), I feel so grateful to have them trotting around the house and resting at my feet. The love we exchange is simple and reliable. And they make me smile every single day.
We found Tanner (right) at a shelter in the Berkshires when she was just a small puppy and when our relationship was still relatively young. Nate and I had been together about seven months, but we were already inseparable and (rather foolishly, in retrospect) didn't think twice about committing to a dog together. Tanner, rescued from Kentucky, was known as "Contessa" in those days, and she was suffering from a terrible infection after being spayed at only six or seven weeks old. She was outside in a gravel pen with a sign warning children to keep away and noting that she was not currently up for adoption. I remember going into her pen, scooping her up, and refusing to put her back down. We somehow convinced the woman working at the shelter that we could provide a better home for this sick puppy than her current gravel pen. Like bandits, we snatched her away, feeding her cheerios to help calm her down for the car ride home. She is hopelessly neurotic, incredibly protective, and a better swimmer than most retrievers. We often call her "bobo."
And then there is Jake (left). Jake came two years later. We felt guilty for leaving Tanner alone all the time while I was at school, so we found this little cuddle-monster to keep her company. The only problem with Jake is that he is the most expensive dog in the entire world. He likes to eat things. Anything. Anywhere. Sticks. Pebbles. The carpet. Poisonous berries. Broken glass in the street. Last Memorial Day, Nate was cleaning off the barbecue with an S.O.S pad (a steel wool and soap scouring pad). Can you guess what happened next? Jake got a hold of it and consumed a large portion before Nate even noticed it was missing. In my experience, veterinarian visits are never cheap. Well, regular vet visits are pocket change compared with a trip to the emergency vet. The only solution that works for us is to watch him ALL OF THE TIME or to keep him in a confined area that only contains Jake-proof or edible objects. But he is the sweetest dog in the entire world. He is also an excellent swimmer, which I think Tanner appreciates. We often call him "snuggle-snake."
While I was in North Carolina helping to take care of my Mom, my brother's tiny dachshunds did a wonderful job of taking on a surrogate role for Jake and Tanner. I would not have made it through some of those tense days without the comfort of their presence, all tail-wagging and hopefulness in a house consumed by survival and grief.
I routinely make a donation to the local humane society, which is one small way of giving back to these creatures for all they've done for me...