I come from a family of animal lovers. You might recall an earlier post written by my mom, in which she told the story of our late dog, Bonnie. You can read it here. I can think of a hundred miserable things my mom would rather do than live in a house without a dog. That being said, after we lost our St. Bernard last fall, my mom was devastated. I was unsettled by how heartbroken I was, too.
I have always loved animals, but I had never been attached to a dog the way my mom was. I always thought of myself as more of a cat person, to be honest. Losing Bonnie made me realize that I was going to lose other important parts of my life, too. In the midst of that dreary October, the epiphany sent me spiraling into a pre-quarter-life crisis. I was afraid of what I might lose next. Then I had a dream.
In my dream, my entire family was sitting on the sectional couch in the family room, gathered around the television watching a football game. Bonnie was standing beside the coffee table, but she looked different. She looked smaller, fluffier, and her eyes had a new, rejuvenated life. Her nose was clean and wet, and there was no red, bloody tumor protruding from her nostril.
“Did you come to say hi?” I asked her. When I reached out to pet her, she was gone. No one in my family saw her. Only me.
Then, I saw my family swimming in the pool on a vacation in Florida. A black lab scampered by, wagging its little tail like a propeller.
I woke up the next morning and I told my family about my dream. Two hours later, my mom had searched online and found a black Labrador puppy named Edison up for adoption nearby. He was a rescue who had just finished his training program at a prison in Lake County. My mother contacted the adoption company and arranged for us to meet Eddie in Chardon. A few days later, we all buckled ourselves into the car and went to meet our new family dog.
The second I saw him, I knew I loved him. He licked my hands and wagged his tail excitedly. “Can he sleep in my bed?” I asked my parents eagerly.
We took Eddie home and by the next morning, I was sharing my breakfast toast with him and taking him for walks around the neighborhood…even in the rain. We cuddled together on the couch and watched Seinfeld, our favorite show. When I arrived home from school, the first thing I did was take him outside to throw his tennis ball around in the yard.
Come December, I was shopping in the mall for Christmas gifts with my family. As we passed by a dog-themed store, I stopped in my tracks. There in the window, I saw a shining, festive display of dog sweaters. “Can I buy him one?” I begged. I dragged my shopping companions into the store and took my sweet time comparing different styles and sizes. I finally settled on a nice red coat that would look striking on Eddie. A few hours later, I burst through the door of my house with a pizza (Eddie’s favorite food) in one arm and a new Ohio State fleece dog jacket in the other. When my big lab came to greet me at the door, I wrestled him into his new coat and fed him a slice of his favorite dinner.
This dog taught me how to love and believe. He taught me to enjoy the simple things in life. This dog gave me the confidence to pass my tests in school, make new friendships, learn to drive, and go out on weekend nights instead of staying in.
Even when Eddie chews my favorite shoes, or crashes my stargazing date with my boyfriend by pulling our blanket out from under us and eating our playing cards, I still love the little goof. Just thinking of the way he chases sticks and scarfs down his ice cream cones brings a smile to my face that no one else can replicate. I understand now why people buy their dogs Christmas sweaters and play fetch with them even in inclimate weather. Every dog owner has her story- this is mine. This is the story of how I went from “more of a cat person” to a stage ten dog lover.