Monday, January 20, 2014
A Relationship Measured in Dog Years
My sweet dog girl Lola turns nine* this week. Well, her life with us turns nine, and if she could talk, I think she would tell you that for her, it means her life turns nine today. As with most rescue dogs, we don't know her actual birthday, although we like to think it is the same as Andrew's birthday in November. I'm a firm believer in dog soul mates, and Lola is definitely one of ours so it's fitting to think she was born the same day Andrew was.
When we met Lola she had one brother left at the pound. She had been dropped off with her whole litter as a newborn, and there were only two of them left. She was sleeping when we made our first pass through the kennels, but on the way back, she had stirred and when she looked up at us, we saw her blue eye. It was love at first sight. Her name was Iris, and we met her in between a sweet pit bull and a spunky terrier named Figaro. He wanted a black lab or an Australian Shepherd, and her sign at the kennel said she was a mix of the two. It seemed perfect.
Lola was thrilled to be outside in the meet and greet area, chasing leaves and enjoying the fresh air. The truth is, she didn't pay us much attention, but we knew she was the one. As Andrew filled out the paperwork inside, I played with her. I tried to cuddle, but she wouldn't have it. She wanted to be free and run. Two other adopters walked up and told me that they wanted to adopt Iris and had come back specifically for her. They tried to lay a guilt trip on me, but I told them she was taken. She had already stolen our hearts and there was no way I was going to let anyone come between me and that baby blue eye.
Andrew and I brought Lola home from the Humane Society of Albuquerque nine years ago on Saturday. Lola was sniffling and snotty and tired from her recent surgery, but she was ours (technically she was his since we had only been dating for a few months, but we dreamed about her and found her and loved her together). I still remember her laying across my lap in his old bruise-colored subaru station wagon with a running nose dripping on my sleeve. I didn't mind because Lola was COMING HOME!
Lola won us over fast with her sweet eyes and flirty, if fleeting, cuddles. We annoyed her with our goofy jokes and singing, and she would often run her body along the walls of his apartment until she reached the corner farthest away from us and collapse her little puppy body and let out a loud sigh that let us know we were being too loud.
Those early puppy lovestruck days are still so fresh in my mind, the same way my early days dating Andrew are. I can remember the scenes like they are from a movie that we rewatch often - in fact, I do like to recount to Andrew and the girls at least a few times a year the story of meeting each of them. No one listens too closely because they've heard it so many times, but I still love telling it.
The story of our lives together - meeting, falling in love, dating, becoming a family - all of these stories that I love so much are intertwined with our stories with the girls. I can't really think about my relationship with Andrew without also thinking of our relationship with Lola. When I first met Andrew, he was already talking about getting a puppy. We dreamed about the puppy all semester, and while we were separated over winter break, we'd email back and forth about what the puppy would be like and how excited we were to meet her. During our first semester in graduate school, Andrew thought he might take the following semester off and work at the ski resort in Taos. I remember feeling very concerned about what this plan would do to the puppy. He reassured me that he was still going to get the puppy, and I remember him joking about how his priorities were still straight. Really, it's not a joke - as we all know, life is better with a dog!
Even though we had only been dating a few months, Lola made us a family. We walked her constantly, made new friends at the park while she ran off leash, went on road trips and big adventures. Lola has been a constant in our relationship, the source of so many laughs and smiles. We have loved her so much, and I think our love as a family has grown because of her presence. She is my girl.
Happy birthday to my baby blue eye.
*I had written this post thinking that Lola is turning ten this year. I had my years mixed up and we adopted her in 2005, not 2004, which means that Lola is only nine. A feel like I was gifted a bonus year with her.