A few years ago, my wife and I split-up. Yeah yeah same old sob story. No one’s making you read it. There wasn’t any infidelity no one was angry, it just wasn’t working. We divided what we had, and went our separate ways. The only thing that couldn’t be split was our puppy, a Freelance (French/English) Bull dog named Abe. We both wanted to keep him. I ended up relenting, and waved goodbye to a tiny little four-legged life that had affected in ways I could never have imagined. I’m a large, scary-looking grown man, and I will openly admit I had a bit of a cry.
And two weeks ago, I got him back. I wasn’t sure how it would go, or if he’d even remember me. He’s a bit bigger, a little less energetic, but still the fuzzy little (ok…not quite so little now) ball of crazy that stood in the passenger side seat and looked out the window, confused as to why I wasn’t in the car with him, when I thought he’d been driven away, and out of my life, forever. I was surprised that he folded right back in, we got into a routine, and after a week or so it feels like he never left. Almost like I’ve always had him and we didn’t spend two years apart.
I have to stop and remind myself to feel the joy of having him back. Some days it hits me all on its own.
The biggest change hasn’t been the overwhelming font of joy I thought it’d be. it’s actually something much deeper. Life hasn’t been the smoothest ride the last six months or so, and I’d had an extended weight on my shoulders, a yoke of stress and worry that was figuratively driving me into the ground. But with Abe back, that weight is gone. I worry less, stress less, and when I feel good its no longer through a cloudy haze.
I can’t really put my finger on why. My science brain says it can’t be anything chemical, unless he releases endorphins just with his presence. Which would be a neat trick. Then some other part of my brain side says why are you relaxing? You’ve got another mouth to feed now.
Yet everyday, when I come home and see that priceless mug, tongue a-wag and butt wiggling, the worries, the cares, the crazy, it evaporates. Maybe not completely, but enough that it’s easier to bear. I never had a pet growing up, but maybe that helps me appreciate exactly what they have to offer. Do they sometimes seem like expensive poop machines with little regard for personal space? Yes. Do they always do exactly what you want them too? No. On paper, they’re entirely dependent on us for everything. But it’s a small price to pay for what we get back from them. Unconditional love? Universal acceptance? Slobber and shedding? Its a bit above my pay grade to put that kind of label on it.
Whatever it is, I know I’ve missed it. If you have a pet, give it a hug today. Their lives are fragile and brief, their souls little yet bright, and you may not notice what they do for you everyday.