“That Dog”: First Baby -vs- Human Baby

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It was the end of my Junior year in College. I couldn’t pass Spanish because my instructor was a woman who refused to fall prey to my impeccable flirting. I was sad. So, as per the norm when sadness arrived, I took a trip to the pet store at the local mall.

Since I was young and in excellent health I wore pointy toe 4″ stilettos to walk the mall.  I carefully maneuvered past the clothing shops, the cookie cart, the handsome men catcalling me who always tried in vain to get me to purchase a steam iron…until I arrived at the front of the pet shop window.

…and there you were.

Tiny. Blonde. Sitting so still while all the other wild animals barked madly around you.  We locked eyes and it was…love.  An instant, unselfish, pure & unbreakable love.

I thrust the young sales boy my soon to be maxed out credit card that the bank had foolishly given me even though I didn’t have a job and charged the $94.99 that you cost because in 2002 a chihuahua/maltese mix was a mutt, not a designer dog.  In just a few years your breed would sell for upwards of $750.

Marketing.

Life is strange.

Together we took on the world.  The “No Pets Allowed” law didn’t apply to us because I just didn’t care and you were very quiet.  We ate together in the nicest of restaurants, people stared in jealousy at your various designer rhinestone encrusted ensembles, you traveled across America and stayed at numerous hotels illegally. You made television appearances, were almost shot by the police, cheated death at a haunted house, ate 99 cent Jack in the Box tacos for 6 months straight without complaining, fought off alligators & fell in love with Scooby Doo.

You were there for my greatest triumphs.

You were there for my greatest heartbreaks.

You never asked for anything except love and table scraps.

You are 13 and your health is failing.  I can see this.  I know you don’t hear as well.  I see you miss the couch when you jump.   I hear you coughing.

…and I’m awful.  I don’t deserve you. Because instead of showing you love, for the past few months I have shown you what can only be described as hate.

I call you “that dog” and I feel anger when I trip over you.  I resent having to walk you outside 5 times a day because our fence isn’t put in yet.  When you bark I cringe because it means you’ll wake the children.

The human children.

Because once I had those human children I forgot about my first baby.

And I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry.

Everyone said it would happen. I didn’t believe them.

I don’t know how it happened.

I don’t remember when it happened.

I just know it happened.

I have been mean to you.  I have not given you the respect and love that you deserve, that you’ve earned.

Juliette yelled at me again today.  Her terrible two attitude is at an all time high and while I know it’ll pass (please, GOD, let it pass) it doesn’t make the bad moments with her any easier. When I finally got her to go down for a nap I sat on the kitchen floor and cried because…I’m a crier. I am who I am. I should buy stock in waterproof mascara.

You sauntered up to me, sniffing the whole time, probably looking for dropped chex mix.  You looked at me with your cataract eyes, listened to me sniffle with your floppy ears, laid your graying head in my lap and sighed in solidarity.

The stench from the breath you exhumed was borderline unbearable.  I just don’t know what to do about your teeth.  But the action set off a flood of memories of all the times I’ve been at the end, feeling unable to go on and you were there to make things better.

I love you, Alexander Marco Bray-Frazier.

You are a good dog, and I promise to be better, to be the owner you deserve.

I’m going to go take you on a walk.  Please don’t poop in front of our new neighbors.

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