Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dear Charlie


Little Pie Face,

Monday was our six month anniversary; can you believe that?  You've been in our family for half a year, though to be honest I can't remember not loving you.  It seems so entirely natural to have rearranged my whole life around you that I don't understand how I didn't feel like something was missing before.  But you know, I was concerned recently because one of my readers anonymously told me that our relationship "weirded her out."  I worried that maybe there was something wrong with me for loving you completely.

So I talked to my friends who have dogs - friends who would pay for vet visits before home repairs, friends who slept on air mattresses for days to be near their ill pets, friends who plan evenings out and weekends away to accomodate their dogs' routines - and I thought that maybe actually I wasn't so strange.  (If I was, at least I wasn't alone.)  Then I read the letter that Fiona Apple wrote to her fans about her cancelled tour and the blog post that Neil Gaiman published after the death of his dog.  And I cried for them and I felt truly heartbroken for my anonymous reader because she probably doesn't know what it's like to have someone like you.

I've talked about you on this blog before, Sir Charles, when I shared our "Hey, It's Okay" confessions and when I wrote about Adopt a Shelter Dog Month and a few other times over the summer (here and here, especially) when you were still new to us and we were still figuring each other out.  Now we've got each other sussed.  You know that all you have to do is love me with your nose-crinkling smile and your frenzied tail-wags and your snuffling kisses and I'll bend over backwards to make up for the 16 months of your life when we didn't have you.

You deserve it, I think.  After all, you're mostly a good boy.  We're still working on Get Off The Counter but I do realize that it's my fault if I leave something tempting out and it gets eaten.  No Jumping On People is a work in progress but I understand that sometimes you just need to be as close to us as possible.  Don't Leap Over The Fence is... well, we totally failed at that one, which is why we're getting a new and higher fence around the backyard.  But you do sit and stay and come when we ask you to - unless there are rabbits and squirrels around, in which case all bets are off.  You don't make too much noise - except when you bark nobly to protect us from the Invisible Intruder or you grumble conversationally just to make sure we haven't forgotten you're there or you sigh heavily because needing to change positions mid-nap is such an inconvenience or you grunt contentedly because you've found the best angle at which to be scratched.  Anyway, the point is, really, that you're the best Fazül we could have dreamed of adopting.

I sometimes wonder what your life was like before we found each other.  The good people at Lab Rescue aren't sure, but you seem totally unscathed by whatever it was that led you to need to be adopted.  I didn't understand how you could be so unaffected by having been given up in the first place or how you could be so nonchalant about being part of our family now - not that you take us for granted, of course, but you accept it as just the way things are - until I read an excerpt from a new book by John Homans titled What's A Dog For?  He explains, "It’s not that a dog accepts the cards it’s been dealt; it’s not aware that there are cards."

Sweet boy, in six months you've taught me that life isn't about the hand you're playing but the pure fact that you get to play.  You've taught me that unconditional love is all-encompassing but still makes room for so much else.  And you've taught me that sometimes the best thing you can do for your soul is to run through the wind but that home is always waiting when the need for freedom is exhausted.

Often, when I leave work in the evening, I'm totally drained.  I get off the metro and that 3/4 mile walk back home seems endless.  But as soon as I turn the corner into our neighborhood, the thought of the greeting that's waiting for me hastens my step and brings a smile to my face.  And when I get through the door, your absolute joy at having me back fills me with wonder; I am rejuvenated by your unbridled delight.

Thank you for all of that, O Squishy One.  I love you always and with everything.



37 comments:

  1. ADORABLE! Chris and I are looking at getting a dog. And all this Charlie cuteness just adds to my dog-want-ness :)

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  2. Very sweet! I can't believe someone tried shaming you for loving your pup! Shame on THEM!

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  3. Ok this seriously almost made me cry at work because it's so beautifully written and heart felt! Charlie is so lucky to have a mom like you and in turn, you are lucky to know the unconditional love from him. Don't let others make you doubt yourself, they only criticize what they don't understand. Such a wonderful read this morning.

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  4. Have you read The Art of Racing in the Rain? You need to- but only when he's snuggled next to you; it's not a commute (or in any other public place) read. Because of the tears that will be streaming down your face, in the most I-love-a-dog-and-a-dog-loves-me way.
    I love this; such a sweet letter to Charlie. I hope you read it to him during some late night or early morning squishes :)

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  5. Labs make the best dogs. and that's all I really have to say on the subject.
    [and that I miss mine dreadfully. it's been almost two years since we had to put her down]

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  6. I love this. I love my dog Ollie so much. He's a mutt but mostly a keeshond (such a fluffy guy), and he really is my husband and my baby. My husband has been out of town for the past week, and he always wants to know exactly what the "buddy" is up to and how he's been. He was a rescue too, and I think it makes me spoil him more to make up for what he's been through. We don't know exactly, but we know he spent the first year of his life mostly chained up until he was forcibly removed from the owner and the second year of his life at the no-kill shelter just waiting for us. He is blind in one eye and his ear is permanently down on the same side. The vet said the blindness was absolutely caused by some type of trauma because it would have been fixable, but of course we don't know exactly what happened. It breaks my heart when I think of anyone even thinking of hurting such a sweet boy. The first time I met him (at a petsmart adoption event), I was talking to him and he jumped up on the side of the enclosure to rest his paws on my body. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but after we got him I realized how out of character that is for him. He is extremely wary of strangers and would never ever jump on them. He just knew he was supposed to be with me and Ben I think. Sorry, this really struck a chord. A pet is such a gift of love for us!! Thanks for sharing!

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  7. DO IT. and in the meantime you can come over and pet him. he'd love that!

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  8. I may have talked too much about being woken up with sloppy kisses... haha

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  9. thank you! I think Charlie would agree :)

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  10. amen. and I'm sorry about yours. I wrote a post about deciding to adopt over the summer and found old pictures of Snickers (Feb 1997 - Sept 2008) for it and SOBBED.

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  11. I've heard of it, but I don't know if there's enough tears in my body to get me through it!

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  12. Dogs are one of life's greatest blessings. Never trust anyone who doesn't LOVE dogs.

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  13. hey, we don't know - maybe she had a bad experience. but I agree that they're a blessing, no question! give my love to H, E, and P :)

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  14. So sweet! I love this. I miss my puppies so much. I know they are in a great new home. But, I wonder if they miss us. Dogs are such amazing creatures and so loving. This is a beautiful post. Thanks, Betsy!

    xoxo
    Selena

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  15. How lovely! You have such a wonderful way with words. Thank you for that post and thank you for adopting this sweet rescue...I,too, am a lab rescue fan and adore my fur babies as you adore yours. They have so much to teach us ;)

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  16. don't apologize - it really is a miracle that we come to have dogs like Charlie and Ollie! I'm so glad this touched you.

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  17. oh my gosh, this is so sweet and true. Especially the part about coming home after a long day, and Charlie immediately making it better. I feel sorry for anonymous, too :)

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  18. I. Love. This. I grew up with dogs, so I hate not having one now, but I'm not ready to pay for one just yet (and by pay, I mean food, vet bills, etc — I'm a firm believer in rescues). Hopefully someday soon!

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  19. maybe one day she'll get to come home to a dog too!

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  20. thank you! Charlie sends his love to your rescues :)

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  21. oh I'm SURE they do! do you ever see them when you go back to Texas?

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  22. it's a big financial commitment, that's for sure - when I budgeted in my head, it was GYM OR DOG. luckily, Charlie loves to run :)

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  23. I feel you. I would do anything for my dog and i miss her very much (she lives in canada with my dad) :)

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  24. Truly heartwarming! It's been three years and one month since I adopted Fifty, and I don't know what I would do without him. He has been a great friend and wonderful company, especially in my first few months living here, when my husband would be traveling for work and I'd be left on my own in the tiny village covered in an icy winter. Without Fifty I think I would have gone lu-la!
    I'm so happy that you and Charlie found each other.
    P.S. I have a feeling Fifty is going to be sharing this on his FB page :)

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  25. I love how Fifty guest-posts on the LPV! Charlie's going to have to copy that :)

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  26. oh no! that's hard. but I bet she goes bonkers when you do see her!

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  27. Charlie should definitely write a post! I'm sure he has very important thoughts to share :)

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  28. I totally understand what you feel for your pup and it is quite normal. Our female wire fox terrier, Belle, escaped out of our front door on Christmas Eve. My husband, our other WFT Cooper and I were devastated and did everything we could do to find her. Five days later a woman picked up Belle on the side of the expressway at 3:30 am and brought her to a 24 hour vet. Belle was not injured but quite hungry and dehydrated. Her microchip came up unregistered but luckily the sheriff that took her to the shelter found my ad on Craigslist. It was one of the happiest moments of my life when I walked down the rows of kennels and saw my pup! We had been to this particular shelter twice and a few others over the five days and it broke my heart seeing other dogs without homes and not finding my sweet girl. Needless to say our Christmas was the worst yet but her return gave us something to celebrate on new years.

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  29. oh my goodness I am SO glad you found her! that's my nightmare, absolutely, especially since Charlie loves running around and can jump fences (though he won't be able to jump the new fence). beyond happy for you :)

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  30. Charlie is a wonderful dog with a wonderful, loving family. :)

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  31. being obsessed with your dog isn't weird at all!!!! We adopted a 12 yo schnauzer 2 years ago and we're totally in love with her: www.facebook.com/wowwowbear :)

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  32. oh my goodness look at that fluffy SNOUT! love :)

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  33. What a sweet letter! I'm kind of obsessed with my dog too. I don't have kids, so she's my baby. Haha. She's even the header of my blog!

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