Puppy Pleasures

27 Oct

Whoever said you can’t buy happiness, forgot little puppies. – Gene Hill

From the time that I returned home from the hospital, I had a dog. During naptimes, Cousteau would look over my crib. He never warmed up to other kids, but for whatever reason, it was okay that I interrupted his world. Except for one unfortunate incident (when I crawled into his territory underneath my parent’s bed), he never growled or snapped at me, always being my protector.

good dog, cousteau!

After Cousteau moved on to dog heaven, another furry creature came into my life: our yellow Labrador Retriever, Travis.  When my brother was 18 months old, my parents decided it was time to get another dog. Being the older sibling, I had the honor of accompanying my dad to pick up our newest addition.  On our drive home, I accidentally dropped the six-week-old squirming puppy, and he spent the rest of the trip trapped under the seat. So much for making a good first impression.

From the start, my brother and Travis were the best of friends. Colin was quite a rambunctious and adventurous child, often climbing on our dog’s back or crawling into his crate with him. Thankfully, he was an extremely patient dog and understood that his boy pulled on his ears and tail with unshakeable love. Despite their unbreakable bond, Travis was very much a family dog. Whenever I was having a bad day, I wanted nothing more than to sit on our dock with Travis by my side.

Like most Labs, Travis had a passion for the water – something that he shared with the rest of my family, my dad in particular.  He went for his first swim at only four months old, falling into the lake while playing too close to the edge of the dock. From then on, it was hard to tear him away from the water. He could swim for hours, retrieving dummy after dummy and diving deep for sunken tennis balls. Even after arthritis claimed his limberness, he would still amble down the boat ramp next to our house and go for his morning dip.

Ironically, we got a second dog on Travis’s fourteenth birthday. Lucy came into our lives by surprise, but she was always meant to be with us. Lucy’s personality reflects her being a rescued dog: she focuses entirely on pleasing you, never wanting to disappoint or upset you and always excited to be with you. She is quite attached to my mother, often hiding under her desk while Mom is doing work. Perhaps she knows that it’s her responsibility to fill that empty nest that my brother and I left behind.

For a few months, Lucy helped to revive Travis, giving a very old dog a bit more spark in his last weeks. She always knew that he was the alpha and respected that we were his family first and foremost. After he passed away, she spent days aimlessly wandering around our backyard and looking for her missing friend. Little did she know that, soon enough, a very rowdy puppy would be bounding into her peaceful world.

lucy & travis - happy campers at the beach

It should come as no surprise, then, that three months into my tenure in the real world, I got my own dog. Milly changed my whole life – completely for the better. That’s not to say it was always easy. I picked Milly up in Manila, Indiana a mere 10 days before I packed up and moved into a new apartment in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Surviving that brutal winter with a yet-to-be-housebroken puppy certainly tested my limits, but together, we managed just fine.

Milly has taught me patience (something I’m still learning) – it’s pretty hard to argue with a stubborn puppy. She has taught me greater fiscal accountability – from her purchase price (equivalent to that pink pair of Louboutins that I’ve been lusting after) to all of her accessories, I have to budget. She has taught me responsibility – she relies on me for everything from bathroom breaks and dinnertime to long walks and playtime. And in return for treats and toys, she gives me unconditional love and countless smiles. Pretty great exchange if you ask me.

my sweet baby girl - 10 weeks old

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One Response to “Puppy Pleasures”

  1. Cameron November 1, 2010 at 9:32 pm #

    Love this post. I think anyone would agree that has or had a dog in their life.

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