I can't tell you how many times mothers have said to me, "when you have kids you'll understand Gayle." If I tell them I do understand because my dog is like my baby, they roll their eyes at me and laugh, "someday you'll know what we're talking about." I really HATE when people talk to me like that, just so you know. And when I tell them I don't know for sure if I ever want kids they roll their eyes again and say, "of course you want kids, every woman does," as if they know me better than myself. I HATE that too. You don't know me, and you sure as hell don't know if I want kids, and p.s. don't look at me like I have two heads and am an alien when I say that I may not want any. Why is it so strange to everyone I know, that I may not want to give up my life for the next 18 years (in my parents case it's been 30), to take care of someone else? Why is it so hard to believe that I may not want to add to the population problem? Anyways, that's a topic for another blog. I'm here to talk about Stewie.
Since we welcomed Stewie into our home, life has changed dramatically. Our house has gone from a reasonably organized living space to a mish mosh of dog toys, avocado pits, and sticks strewn from the back door all the way to his spot on our ottoman. Stewie has an affinity for sticks and for avocados and loves to bring them inside to his special spot. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of both in our backyard, the avocado tree is constantly dropping fruit off it's branches and we have plenty of bushes for Stewie to pull sticks from. Upon Stewies arrival I had to give up my neat and orderly life for a more messy one, it's amazing how quickly I adapted.
The mess was and is worth it, because along with it, came so many smiles and laughs and brought a new happiness into our world that I didn't even know was missing. Stewie has the rare ability to bring a smile to my face on the hardest days. No matter if I'm gone for five hours or five minutes, I'm greeted at the door with a showering of love and affection and kisses and wiggles, that make me feel like a celebrity every time I walk into my house. The majority of the time, my job is a very sad one, i come home mentally exhausted and emotionally drained, but its very hard to stay down with the welcome wagon that greets me every time without fail. I have fallen so deeply in love with my funny quirky dog, and have learned the most unconditional love, because even when he does something soooo naughty, it's impossible to shake my love for him.
So yesterday, when I had to drop Stewie off to be neutered, I felt like part of my heart was being ripped out. For months I have been saying we have to get Stewie neutered, and my boyfriend has been generally abhorred at the idea of snipping off his sons manhood. But on Monday I took Stewie to the dog park and was shamed by another dog parent for not taking care of this yet. The guy, we will call him Mr. X, had the audacity to come up to me and say if my dog starts to get aggressive then I have to pull him away, and he may do that because he's not fixed. Stewie is the most submissive dog in the park and is constantly being beaten up on by other dogs so I thought this comment was a bit outrageous. I told Mr. X that Stewie had just turned 6 months and our vet wouldn't fix him until he was 6 months old. X's response was "I find that very hard to believe since it's illegal to have a dog over 4 months old not fixed." At this point I walked away, as Mr. X was fucking with my serenity and he had no idea that I was about to punch him in the face to defend Stewies honor. I took Stewie in to be fixed the next day, NOT because of Mr. X but because I can't stand Stewie being shamed at the dog park.
The thing about dogs is they trust their owners implicitly. Dogs are loyal. Dogs really are, in truth, "a man's best friend." Humans can only ever hope to have the heart of a dog. The vet is less than one city block away from our house, I decided to walk Stewie over instead of driving. He wouldn't move so I carried my 55 pound dog the whole way. Upon arrival at the vet, Stewie was quickly whisked away from me and brought towards the back door. At the door he stopped in his tracks and turned his head and looked at me, I walked up to him and told him how much I loved him and he looked deep inside me saying with his eyes, "I'm scared mom, but I trust you would never do something bad to hurt me." I started bawling in the vets office and told Stewie through broken sobs I'd see him tomorrow, he licked a tear off my face and walked away with the vet. I fell asleep last night wondering what Stewie was thinking and how he was feeling being his very first night of his life all alone. I hoped he didn't think I abandoned him.
I have never seen a more pathetic sight than my baby with the cone of shame around his neck when I went to pick him up today. I didn't need to carry him back to the house, he got outside the vets office and bolted to the house almost pulling my arm out of the socket. When we arrived home we both just sat staring at each other. Him being frustrated and confused with his cone, my heart breaking that I couldn't just talk to him and explain what was going on. So I did the only thing I knew to do, I laid his head on my lap and stroked his back. I can't tell you how many times I have come home from work with tears in my eyes from the hopeless sadness that goes along with my job, and just laid holding Stewie until the pain went away. So i tried to do the same for him. I sat with him and I rubbed him and I told him it was going to be better in a few days. I tried to explain to him that this was just a fact of most dogs life's and to try not to hold it against me for too long but I knew even though he looked pathetic as hell, he'd already forgiven me. That's the thing about dogs, forgiveness is easier for them than humans. I will hold a grudge for months, years sometimes, but I send Stewie to the butcher shop and he forgives me immediately. Dogs are great teachers, they are great examples of unconditional love, loyalty and what it means to be a true friend, selflessness and forgiveness. I hope some of Stewie rubs off on me.
Please think twice before telling me I don't know what it feels like to be a mother. Please don't tell me I couldn't possibly understand the gut wrenching feeling of doing absolutely anything in the world for your baby so they won't be in pain. Because laugh if you want, but I do.