The news is filled to the brim with stories of pets who show us each and every day the extent of their loyalty, of their dedication to being there for us. I can only aspire to be deserving of it.
Brody is almost 2 now, and probably similar in age to Emmett when I adopted him. He’s still got lots of goofy puppy in him, but he is slowly maturing into an intuitive and loving dog. I need to remind myself whenever I start to make comparisons that Emmett introduced himself to my 5 foot tall mother by jumping on her full force and knocking her backwards out our front door in 2002. Wisdom comes with age.
While we have bonded (obviously), I feel he is bonded equally well with the entire family. I’m not complaining. That is a happy thing. Emmett was mine and I was his, and while I sometimes wished he was more interested in the children it was also nice to have someone all to myself, who was always there for me.
I would spend hours reclined on him studying, him calmly accepting the weight of my head. I would bury myself in that huge wild mane and just let him breathe me in, all my human-ness evaporating into his calmly accepting body. He gave of himself in this manner very rarely to anyone else, and never to the kids.
Now when the kids get home from school, they do laps around the house with the dogs, Brody gamely chasing along with his squeaker and trying his best not to get too rambunctious. He submits for pets, gives kisses on demand, and has learned not to chomp on humans (other dogs, though, are fair game.) Despite outweighing him by 25 pounds, he listens intently to my 4 year old’s instructions.
He’s still young, still maturing into the kind of dog who can sense sadness. I never got that he was overly concerned when he saw someone crying, and I didn’t know if that was due to youth, or maybe he just wouldn’t be one of those kinds of dogs who would sit for hours and be a good pillow on a sad day.
But last week, when the kids had sequestered themselves upstairs playing dinosaurs and Barbies and I found myself suddenly starkly alone, I found that I needed a moment to go inhale and catch my breath. I went outside and sat on the patio, staring into the distance and thinking of my friend Kevin and all the dreams that would never get to be.
About 30 seconds after I sat down it started to rain on me, and I looked to the sky and said “Oh now come on, that’s kind of melodramatic, don’t you think?” and then I started to laugh, and cry, and it turned into one of those hiccupy laugh/cry/laughs that make both people and animals nervous.
And out of nowhere, Brody materialized and crawled onto the chair with me, just stuffed himself right onto my lap. I didn’t even realize he had followed me outside. Without preamble, he put his fluffy head in my lap, crimped side up, ready to be my pillow.
That’s when I knew, I mean really knew 100% in my bones, that he and I were right where we needed to be.