Monday, February 7, 2011
Big, Harry Blessings
My friend Julie was trying to help me get excited about our soon-to-arrive puppy: "My sister LOVES her Labradoodle! He's part of the family ... he goes with her in the car every day on her errands!"
My head fell back, my eyes rolled, and an audible "uuuugh!" escaped. I was thinking: "Thanks but no thanks, Julie. I will never be that woman." We were getting a dog despite my years of protesting. I was not a dog person. Never had been since I was three years old and chased on the beach by a yappy monster nipping at my heels. Dogs to me equalled a slobbery, smelly, shedding, barking mess, and really, why would you sign up for that? But our oldest daughter had been away at college for a semester and our youngest daughter (and, okay, my husband and I) were really feeling the void left in our family. My hubby was sure that adding a puppy (two weeks before Christmas!?) was just the answer. And so, ready or not, he was coming.
Fast forward three years. If you were to see me driving around town, this (above) is what would be peering out of the window behind my seat. And I couldn't be happier. Or love this Big Guy more. My friends think I have completely lost it, or as Jennifer says, "gone to the dark side". But after 42 years of complete ambivalence toward dogs, or any animals for that matter, I now love them all. I seek them out and talk to them in a voice I never knew that I had, that only comes out for them. I am a dog lover, and it is a miracle.
Here's what happened:
My husband had purchased a puppy on-line from a breeder, and the puppy had been with a trainer for a couple of months so that he was housebroken when we got him. (My husband really WAS looking out for me. But did I mention that it was two weeks before Christmas?!) Being a woman of faith, I started praying fervently that I would love this dog. I had to. Husband and daughter would disappear to work and school, and then guess what? I'd be left at home with a dog that I didn't want. So I prayed. And prayed again, desperately. I prayed that I would somehow find within me a little bit of love for this beast that would soon share my living space.
I remember pulling into the parking lot of the restaurant and seeing the car of the dog trainer. Husband and daughter jumped out (I slumped out) of our car as the trainer opened a little kennel in her back seat. Suddenly, the heavens parted, the sun shone a little brighter in our parking spot, and I thought I heard the Hallelujah Chorus as THE CUTEST LITTLE GUY I HAD EVER SEEN leapt from the car. My family melted away and it was just me and the Doodle. Like in the movies. I knelt down and hugged him. For a long time. The trainer said, "That's just the way to bond with him. He will feel very secure." He smelled sweet from a morning bath and he stood there patiently and let me hug him. I think I cried a little. And that was it. It was absolutely, unequivocably love at first sight. Blessing #1: God hears and answers our prayers, even the ones that involve brown curly-haired puppies named Harry.
Blessing #2: Harry is a chick magnet. And a dude magnet. We cannot take him on a walk without others approaching us with big grins on their faces. Cars have even screeched over to the curb with their drivers yelling out "What kind of dog is that?" Harry has grown into a 75 pound Big Boy, and half of his hair has turned prematurely grey. But children's comments when they see him sum it up: it is either "He looks like a cartoon character!", or "He looks like a stuffed animal!", or "Hey, he looks like a sheep!" Harry suffers from no self-image issues, though. His best friend is Dante, the Rhodesian Ridgeback (Beth's muscle dog), and while Harry prances and Dante cooly struts, Harry couldn't be happier with him. People leave Harry with smiles on their faces, and we have made many new friends in our community through him.
Blessing #3: Harry has strengthened our relationships with our running shoes. He loves to "go for a run" and was my husband's ever-faithful running buddy as he trained for a marathon two summers ago. Even when the man himself wasn't sure he wanted to hit the road for his hilly training day, or "the long run", Harry danced around his leash and got him out the door. And then stuck like glue to his master the rest of the day, pretty much saying "Remember what we did today??? Wasn't that great??? I love to run!!"
Blessing #4: You will find us on many an evening sitting on the living room floor surrounding our Prince Harry. We start out laughing at him and his funny antics, then realize an hour has passed and we've talked through our days and caught up with each other again. Harry has been stretched out in the middle of us...usually our daughter is laying on him, while he languishes in having his paws rubbed, or his belly scratched, or his face nuzzled. I guess he's a family magnet, too, and is filling his job description of trying to fill the void of one less daughter in the home. Hubby was right.
I would like to think that I have become a better person since I have become a dog lover and have acknowledged my Big Harry Blessings. My friend Missy says, "Just wait, one of these days you will be the lady that buys dog costumes", and I laugh and say, "No way. I am not that woman!" Then my daughter reminds me that hanging in the closet are Harry's Yankee Doodle bowtie and his Christmas Jingle collar.