Some mornings you wake up, and you have no idea that particular day is going to change your whole life forever.
February 27, 2008 was one of those days for me. I was headed to a job interview (honestly, could I just GET AND KEEP a job? Please?) when I saw a little yellow dog on the side of the road.
(Is it just me, or does Marvin look 17 in this three-year-old photo? Has living with Tallulah aged him? Has North Carolina aged him? Has being a teacher aged him? How much do you think he's gonna like me for basically insinuating he's an old sea hag now?)
I know for some people, seeing a dog on the side of the road would be no big deal. Some people would drive on. Obviously a lot of people did drive on that day. I can't have been the first to speed past her on that busy road.
Others might have stopped and taken her to the pound, or moved her away from the road, or whatever.
But something happened to me when I did a U-turn to check on that yellow pup.
And you know me. I love all animals; I am berserk. But this was different. As soon as I looked at her face, and saw those eyelashes, I loved her as though I had known her my whole life.
My hands were shaking as I drove her home, canceling my interview. (I know. Maybe this is why I can't get and keep a job. Could it be the prioritizing mutts off the side of the road over employment? Hmmm?) I had to buy all her supplies, get her to the vet, let Marvin know we were dog owners. February 27, 2008 was a big day.
And it hasn't always been fun. Or pretty. Dogs are not easy, like cats. You can't just pretend they aren't there. You have to train them not to eat infants or visitors, you have to train them not to free their willie here in the house, you have to train them not to pull like a freight train on their leash.
But of all the things I have had to teach her, she has taught me so much more. I have had to learn how to put her needs before my own. As a childless only child with an indulgent spouse, it never really came up before.
I had to learn patience. Because she trusts me to be kind to her, and even-keeled, and not an explosive nutbar who just needs her to GO TO HER BED NOW because I'm TRYING to watch a SHOW!
I've had to learn when it's good to set limits, and not let her walk all over me just because I adore her. I have had to learn that creatures who depend on you actually need a few rules and some structure.
Happy anniversary, Tallulah. I'm glad you were waiting for me that day. I was waiting for you, too. I just didn't know it yet.