From time to time I may forgo Yugioh for other thoughts and musings. This post is written as a tribute for our beloved dog Bridgett who died after being with us for nearly fourteen years.
In retrospect, most choices are so commonplace that they could be considered banal. You leave for college, get married, have kids, and get a dog. Our lives flow along the same well-worn paths as those around us. Our experience is more shared than disparate; our decisions more predetermined than determined.
Yet our perception at those times of decision could not feel more different. I chose a college after months of deliberation. I married after years of dating, and all our pregnancies were planned. The decision to get a dog was no less intentional. We had a six year son who needed to learn responsibility. A dog would allow him to grow by caring for another being. His successful entry in to manhood could be fostered by this pet.
The execution of our decision to get a dog would be no less rational. We turned to various experts to help us choose the right animal. After all, we only managed to get through pregnancy with the help of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. We would surely do the same for raising a dog. We learned that the dog could be a Christmas present but we should not bring her home at Christmas. Check. We would have a crate for the dog to provide a safe environment. Check. We would bring her up according to the standards of the American Kennel Club. Check.
Funny, dogs don’t read books or follow agendas. In fact, they seem to help you find ways of forgetting yours. At least our Bridgett did. Within minutes of meeting her I forgot about character development and purposeful parenting. She was friendly, a bit demure, and appeared glad to see us. Of course, these were the traits selected over the ages to help make her and her kind the most successful parasitic species on the planet. On the other hand, her actions prompted a genuine emotional response. I was happy, content, and pleased to rescue her from the shelter and bring her to our home.
We did, nevertheless, follow the plan conceived before her homecoming. Bridgett retired to her kennel at night and occasionally retreated to it during storms. She was trained according to the AKC standards and earned her “Good Citizen” award. She was athletic and lean and literally wore out a path around the house. Like any long term relationship there were occasional strains. For example, she had a penchant for chewing up any sock that was left on the floor. Perhaps, she was just teaching me to be a little tidier. In any case, a whole sock-full of drawers would not make up for our loss. In fact, time is quickly erasing any memory of the strains though it has yet to erase the grief.
Bridgett died only a few weeks after my son left for AmeriCorps. She was his companion, tutor, and comforter. She was with him through growth spurts, fashion fads, and broken hearts. When the world seemed to reject him, as it does from time to time in nearly all teenage worlds, Bridgett accepted him without cost or condition. And when her task was finished and he entered the adult world, she left us.
Whether intentional or unintentional, mindful or accidental, whether a product of breeding, evolution, or environment, I will always be grateful for what that dog did for my son, my family, and most of all, for me.