The Gift with a Cold, Wet Nose

Rocky, aka Rocket Puppy

We recently got a dog who narrowly escaped being named Grover by my 4 year old. He’s a year old rescue dog with a gentle energy who is completely unfazed by the chaos of our home. I thought it was going to be a big adjustment but it turns out that it’s just like having another preschooler in the house. Fortunately, he seems to be easier to train than the kids.

The coolest thing about having a dog is that it gives me a reason to take alone time for myself. He needs to be walked every day so after my husband gets ready for work, Rocky and I hit the streets. I was completely unprepared for how awesome it would feel to be out in the cool morning air with nothing required of me except an occasional pause at a fire hydrant. No one is asking me to find a Lego, pour more milk or wipe their tushie. It’s a delicious freedom that I haven’t had in 4 ½ years and an independence that I completely took for granted before I had kids.

I’ve had dogs before but my lifestyle back then wasn’t exactly conducive to responsible dog ownership. Who wants to walk a dog when they’re hung over? The answer is nobody. I’ve never met someone who was hung over who wanted to do anything for anyone, including themselves. I can remember many a morning where getting up to pee was asking too much. My bladder was way more cooperative back then. If I started drinking now, I’d be in the bathroom all the time. I’d probably cut to the chase, haul a cooler into the bathroom, plant myself on the pot and call it a day.

Rocky is healing me in a way that I didn’t expect or acknowledge that I needed. I’m unapologetically a cat person but you can’t talk about unconditional when you’re talking about a cat. A relationship with a cat is a tacit understanding. Cat says, “You feed me and keep my litter clean and I won’t smother you in your sleep. Comprende?” Human then tolerates everything Cat does because that’s what cat lovers do (as if we have a choice, see above).

Sobriety has given me bigger desire to give love and I’m infinitely more patient, which is a good thing because dogs are an emotional gauge. They sense stress and happiness and then mirror the feelings back to you. Love to them is a good belly rub and a kindly spoken, “Good boy.” Love to me is implicit trust and wet kisses. A dog is a gift with a cold, wet nose.

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