Sometimes I wonder what in the HELL we were thinking, adopting a 3rd dog and a rescue at that. He’s a bit of a sweet disaster. His separation anxiety is desperate to the point he watches Adam work or plants himself directly between Adam and the path to the truck to make sure he doesn’t get left behind. Lately he’s been sitting or sleeping in the back of the car in the driveway. For hours.
When we do leave him at home uncrated, he creates a small mess each time. He started out by hauling Adam’s clothes and shoes out of the bathroom into the bedroom or living room. Never damaging anything, just leaving a little note of his fear and discontent.
More recently he’s taken to counter surfing to register his displeasure. I’ve been returning home to scenes like a bag of cereal, plastic wear, a cloth grocery sac, and a coffee mug (!?) on the living room floor.
His desperation to go along is sweet if a bit over the top. Touch keys or purse and he starts Fred Flintston-ing his feet on the wood floor to beat us downstairs to the door leading out the the garage. Being left behind, even with one of us here, is hard for him especially if it’s Adam leaving him.
You know how people have emotional support animals? Well, Buddy has an emotional support person—Adam. Adam was the first one of us to meet him and they fell for each other immediately. I think Buddy recognizes Adam as his savior.
So what WERE we thinking, adopting a third dog? For the first time in almost thirty years we were without a lab. And that was a mistake. Our other dogs are great and we love them. But major elements of lab-ish-ness were missing from our lives. We needed a loyal, smart-but-dopey, underfoot, big headed, snuggling lab.
His less attractive habits often leave me shaking my head and questioning our sanity and judgement. But then I look at his face. He sits and looks up at me, brown eyes shining out of his black fur. He looks at me as if to say, thank you so much for taking me out of that place. Thank you so much for saving me. Thank you so much for kindly tolerating my anxiety and fear. Thank you for loving me.
I wonder how anyone could turn down a face like that. Certainly we couldn’t.
And we’re all a little bit damaged, right? We all have our times when we feel like laying on the floor with our loved one’s clothes just because their scent comforts us. Times when life becomes a bit too much and we want to swipe everything off the kitchen counter in a little moment of desperation.
Oh, we probably don’t do it but that doesn’t mean we don’t feel like it. What we do is hold it inside and then later yell at the kids or snap at our spouse. Or cry in the shower before splashing water on our face and then marching on like it’s all okay. Only sometimes it isn’t okay and we need to find a way to give voice to our fear, our frustration, our anxiety, our sadness.
Hopefully we all have someone who looks at the mess we’ve created and, rather than reprimand us, recognizes our distress and helps us find a better way.
So that’s why. Because he needs us. And we need him.
(This essay also appears on Sodapup.com’s tumblr blog.)