We dream of the day. We spend months, sometimes years awaiting his arrival, passing the time buying trinkets and bobbles, toys and beds, crates, leashes and collars. We could go blind from all the late night research we’ve done on food and training. Nothing is left to chance. In our mind’s eye he will be this and he will be that, he will behave properly and he’ll be such a good boy because we already have him enrolled in all the correct classes. Finally, the day arrives and we know we are ready. He smells of baby. Soft and innocent, and ever joyous in all pursuits.
That is how we think it will go.
And we remind ourselves ‘how it will be’ when he is older as we stand in the bitter wind of a winter’s night waiting for the pooh fairy to arrive. But he plays and sniffs, looks out over the snow in wonderment and then to us, thinking maybe it’s playtime. He’s not quite sure what he is suppose to be doing as we hold one hand on our coat collar and the other on the leash. When we give up and retreat to the house, he makes a nice poop right on the kitchen rug. And even though he has dozens of toys littering the floor, it is our shoes that he chews, and the leg of an antique coffee table, and our underwear, and he mows down an occasional potted plant which we made sure was not poisonous long before he arrived. He has taken to singing at night, when he gets lonesome and so we go to work with bloodshot eyes as the days turn into weeks. We take him everywhere to keep him socialized and we take him to classes so he will someday become the proper dog we know he can be.
He knows how to sit, but he doesn’t ‘stay’ which we forgive because he is only a year old and has to mature. Then comes adolescence with his stubbornness, his challenges and his preoccupation with his newly discovered hormones. But we are not worried, we have time to make all the necessary corrections, soon we will be done and he will be the perfect dog. Just a little more time and he won’t hijack the grilled pork loin off the counter just as the guests arrive. He’ll know better than to lift his leg on party-goer Bob’s shoe, who must not like dogs too well and that’s what he kind of deserves anyway. And anyone who objects to a little dog hair in their salad should have known better than to come to our house.
When he turned five, we took him camping and after a day of barking at other campers who approached too close, he ripped a giant hole in the tent during the night when he heard an animal on the other side of the canvas. We were angry until we realized he was gone, then spent hours frantically calling his name and, finally finding him unconcerned with his foray, we went home early to recover. Spent but oh so happy he was here with us.
At nine he doesn’t see very well. And his hearing has diminished, but he never was good at listening anyway, we think to ourselves as we help him from his bed in the morning and clean up his accident.
That’s when we realize he is perfect. He has been perfect his whole life. We thought our lives together would go is way, but he went that way and we followed because he was the perfect match in our heart.
It is the only place a perfect dog exists. And it is the only place that matters.