Monday, December 14, 2009
The face of destiny
I never planned on having a houseful of animals. But, somewhere between living the single life in my own apartment with no attachments and buying my first house with my husband, I became one of those people who animals just happen to. I didn’t expect any of it and really didn’t want to be tied down by that kind of responsibility.
Now, it seems, I can’t leave the house without an alarm going off somewhere in the collective consciousness of dogs throughout the land, that the treat lady is about. Dogs just seem to know that I may have a goodie for them hidden on my person, or at any moment I’ll produce a ball they can chase. It could be because the pockets in almost all my sweaters and jackets are lined with a fine sprinkling of treat dust, or it could be the layer of animal hair that constantly surrounds me like a type of protective packaging, or perhaps it’s the splotches of dried dog slobber on my clothes that shimmer tellingly when the light hits them just right. Whatever the reason, I have started to feel guilty when met with a pair of pleading eyes peering up at me from a furry face and I have nothing to give but a pat on the head; although I’ve learned, sometimes that is quite enough.
My descent into a life carpeted with dog hair began the day I met Bear, which also happens to be the day I met my future husband.
I was standing in the cool damp of a farm house kitchen, the darkness just barely chased away by a bright cold spring light that squinted in through tiny windows, when the door flew open, banging against the wall and Morgan and Bear burst into the room.
Although Morgan’s personality filled the kitchen instantly, the first thing I said was “Ooh, a puppy!”. I reached down and managed to just brush my fingertips against the little black ball of energy as she galloped past me, ears flapping, and tumbled into the living room in search of the little dog who lived there. Bear was only six months old and was incapable of sitting still long enough for me to even see what she looked like. Before I could blink, she breezed by again on the heels of a tiny white mop of hair and disappeared into the bright rectangle of light that spilled in from outdoors.
It was another two years before I really got to know her. She and Morgan did everything together, so when Morgan and I started seeing each other she did everything with us. I was sucked in right away by her big brown intelligent eyes that looked right into my heart and floppy ears that were silky soft against my cheek. I loved to bury my face in the thick ruff of fur around her neck and kiss the spot between her eyes that seemed to fit my lips just perfectly.
The more time the three of us spent together, the closer Bear and I became. Morgan was born with cerebral palsy that affects one of his legs. It means he is unable to spend a lot of time on his feet doing strenuous things, like hiking or running, things I enjoy. Bear and I bonded over those things. I would sometimes show up at Morgan’s house to pick up the dog and take her for an afternoon of walking in the woods.
It wasn’t long before we were inseparable. Morgan and I joked that it was Bear and I who were supposed to be together and Morgan just happened to come with the dog. He even began to see similarities developing. He says we sigh the same way when we’re bored and hold the same worried expression in our eyes when we’re concerned about something. He gets the same disgruntled sideways glance from Bear and I whenever he fights for a spot on the couch between us.
Morgan and I clicked instantly that day we met each other in the farm house kitchen. It was as though something inside each of us cracked open and took a deep breath for the first time in a very long time - something we didn't even know was there. Our hearts knew we belonged together before our heads did and a connection formed that very instant the door flew open. Then, as we navigated our clunky human relationship, I began to see how simply in tune Bear and I were with each other and I realized, in her, I had found a soul mate.