"Say what you have to say, and not what you ought."
~ Henry David Thoreau

Monday, November 10, 2014

Canine Connections

This article caught my eye when it showed up in my news feed today. After A Death, Should We Get a Dog: Brain Study Signals 'Yes'? I didn't have any scientific studies to back up my sudden decision to get not one, but two dogs in the year following my sister's death. I just uncharacteristically threw all caution to the wind and followed my gut when first Lucy, and then Sophie, presented themselves to me and almost immediately captured my heart. 

I'm sure most people who knew me thought I'd lost my mind when I brought two puppies home within seven months. I know I thought I had. Until then I most definitely wasn't a dog person. I liked dogs well enough, but I never seriously considered owning one. My daughter knew better than to even ask for a puppy, as the rule in our house had always been that she could have any pet she wanted as long as it was one that didn't poop. I'd only relaxed that rule once when I allowed her to have a pet gold fish. 
Me with baby Lucy - January 2011
There's no rational explanation as to why I felt compelled to bring two dogs into my life during a time when I was still reeling from the shock of Julie's suicide. Sure, there was some serious encouragement from Mike, but I'd always been able to resist the charms of puppies up until then. I guess my heart understood what my mind couldn't explain. Having a new life to love and nurture saved my life. It lifted my depression and gave me something to focus on other than my grief. Lucy, my Shih-Tzu/Schnauzer mix came first, an early birthday present to me in January of 2011. Her feisty, mischievous nature was obvious early on. She's a handful and sometimes very naughty, but also very smart. 

Gillian welcoming Lucy to our family 

Lucy brought me joy and reminded me that my heart really wasn't broken. She was an adorable ball of fur that brought much needed distraction and laughter into our lives. But Sophie, my Yellow Lab, saved my life. I believe it was both fate, and the wisdom of Mike (notice a pattern here?) that brought her to me. It was August of 2011, and I was still gaining my bearings after a brief hospitalization in June for severe depression and extremely complicated grief. A trip to Target for school supplies ended with me coming home sans school supplies but with a puppy. The instant I held that squishy, soft, warm, wiggly bundle of yellow fur it was over. I tried to resist, but it was useless. Sophie chose me. I knew then that part of my attraction to her was because she was a Yellow Lab, just like Julie's dog. I've always known that was an underlying, unexplainable part of my strong, instant connection to her. Whatever the reason, Sophie stole my heart that day. 
Who could resist that face?

Gillian likes to complain that Sophie is my favorite child. I always tell her that isn't true, but Sophie is my favorite fur child. Who knew that I would go so nuts for a dog? I seriously adore her. It's not something I can explain. I guess now I don't need to since it seems science is starting to come up with the research to explain it for me. I loved this quote about dogs in the article I linked to above. “They are work, expense and add to the list of beings in your home who have needs to be attended to. It is sort of like deciding to have a kid — no rational reason to do that either but big pay off on love, general hilarity and a constant reminder of the joy in everyday small things.” 

That's the truth. Dogs, like kids, are a lot of work. But the pay off is big and comes in unexpected ways. Four and a half years ago I never would have imagined having dogs in my life. Now I can't imagine life without them.