Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life with Mikey

I added a new “child” to my household this year – a golden retriever named Mikey. I actually just hated writing down the word “child” in reference to a pet – there is no correlation to this cute canine being a child other than it is another life form to which I can dote on, brag about, play with, dress up, feed too much, clean up poop and vomit, brush his hair, and teach new things. Other than that, nothing in common.

In fact, when I was younger, I pitied those women who seemed to only have a life that involved working in a cube and going home to their pets that they treated like their children, a surrogate family. I’ll never be like that, I thought. Wait a minute, “We have met the enemy and he is us!" (Pogo author Walt Kelly). Life doesn’t quite turn out as you have in mind. I’ve rewritten my future in my mind several times in my life, and find it is easier instead to joyfully adapt to the life that I have been given.

Mikey, our new canine companion, has turned out to be a great distraction this year and I can’t imagine living in a house without a dog again – although it is a distinct possibility given my horrible dog allergies and the fact that we got Mikey when he was 11 years old.

We adopted Mikey last Christmas (2009) from my dad, a golden retriever breeder. Mikey loves being the only dog in a family now as he gets all the petting, toys, and quiet naps he wants. He also gets to join Tim at his hunting camp, goes on regular walks with me around the neighborhood, and is rabid about fetching tennis balls.

I love the fact that he sticks to us like a shadow, eternally inquisitive about anything we are doing. He loves to shove his big nose in the middle of the anything we are unwrapping (mail, Christmas gifts, groceries, etc.), lay his head on the newspaper or book we are reading, or plop down in a round ball of soft golden fur near wherever we may be, brown eyes focused on us, poised to hop up and follow us into the next room should we make a move. Unless he dozes off, body extended and relaxed, feet twitching as if running in a dog dream.

The best word to describe Mikey besides man's best friend is "hopeful." He's hopeful I'm going to give him an ice cube when I'm getting myself some water, hopeful I'm getting him a treat when I walk anywhere near the kitchen, hopeful I'm going to play catch with him when he drops a sloppy tennis ball in my lap, hopeful I will pet him when my hand falls near his head.

So enthralled I am with Mikey that I even wrote some Mikey-haiku in twitter (3 April 2010) for the #haiku group. The haiku word of the day was “niveous:”

Brown eyes shine / niveous cataracts cloud / still catches ball mid-air

That was my second attempt at haiku that day. The first one was:

Beef knuckle bone came / dog has forgotten 'bout me / his tennis ball waits

Mikey has provided me something to care for, love on, look forward to visiting at lunchtime, and he is company when Tim is off on one of his many self-sufficient pursuits. Tim doesn’t really need me – though I make his life easier and hopefully more enjoyable than without me. Mikey, however, needs me.

So, life with Mikey is very enjoyable and I’m thankful for this opportunity to have him in our lives for however long that may be. We hope to have him for a few more years. We might continue to be a rest home for other goldens that are past their prime (an expensive and short-term mission for sure). That may pull on our heart strings several times a decade, but the pleasure might be worth it. For the dog and for us.

"We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us." - EM Forster