If I had known sooner how easily misconstrued this little term of endearment could be, I may not have chosen it for my dog but I used it once and it just stuck. Kahlúa’s little compared to my human girl, Zoë, who is 5’7″ and growing fast at 12 years of age. She’s certainly darker, too. Zoë is roughly the same colour as a wet napkin. Paler, actually.
Naturally, one might infer that I call Zoë “The Big White One.” They’d be right – but in a multicultural city such as my native Vancouver, these are really not the safest of monikers. “The Little Brown One” is certainly not something I should utter in mixed company. So, for now, we reserve it for around the house, and not without hilarious results. One has to be more than just a little thick-skinned and P.C-resistant to live in my house. Irreverance is pretty much standard procedure around here.
So, the little brown one, my mutt, my other kid… She lights up my life. (I didn’t mean to falsely make you believe that I was going to tell you a hilarious anecdote including cultural misunderstanding. I actually just want to talk about my dog. I hope I didn’t mislead you.)
A Visit to the S.P.C.A.
My dog was a rescue. She was orphaned along with the rest her litter at 3 weeks old. When we went to the S.P.C.A. office to see them, there were only three left: Polar Bear, Little Otter and Chunky Monkey. Bear and Apple had already been taken. (The person who named these poor puppies should be slapped.) They were all sweet but there was a rambunctious little chocolate-coloured female that wouldn’t leave me alone. She was busily nibbling my earrings and licking my face.
It seemed obvious; we weren’t the ones doing the choosing. When the woman asked me which puppy we were interested in adopting, I said that it was irrelevant which one I thought was the best because ‘Chunky Monkey’ had already chosen us. I told her that we had to stop trying for baby #2 because I’m on medication for breast cancer and also how it would be so good for us to have this puppy, particularly since we had an empty place in our family and a lot of love to give. They chose us to be Kahlúa’s new people, and we are eternally grateful to them for that.
How do I Love Thee?
We have had Kahlúa for exactly one year now. Since August 22nd, 2013, I’ve learned a lot about being a dog parent and how having a pet enriches your life beyond measure. So, Kahlúa, in celebration of Valentine’s Day, here’s my list of reasons I love you:
1. I love you because you love me.
2. You’re so SNUGGLY! Mmmmmm, snuggles. Yeah. I love the way you insist on sitting as close to me as possible all of the time. You’re sitting on my feet as I write this. How lovely you are.
3. You eat bees and that’s hilarious. No matter how grumpy I might be, watching you chase, bite and paw at poor, not-so-defenseless insects makes my day every time. In fact, coming home to you and your antics is one of the highlights of my day.
4. You chase laser pointers like a cat. I have video proof.
5. You bark at pine cones, plastic bottles, bugs, fireworks, plastic bags and disco balls. Oh, and bubbles. We can’t forget the bubbles. You bark at the least threatening entity on this earth.
6. You break the ice and enable us to meet the neighbours. This is awesome! I’ve lived in this neighbourhood on and off my whole life and we JUST met the people next door. After 18 years. Yup.
7. You force me to have a sense of humour when you do stuff like eat my makeup sponges, slippers, power bar, iPhone charger and pillows. Oh, and when you pee and poo in the house. Remember that time you ate a bottle of Mio water enhancer on the couch? It’s pink on that side now, thanks to you. You were right, though, the couch did need a little razzle-dazzle.
8. You eat poop and barf. That’s really funny.
9. You distribute your dog hair with wild abandon. Have you ever petted your dog vigorously in bright sunlight? Yowza, it’s a hair fiesta!
11. You smile constantly. Yes, dogs can smile. Mine does it when she stands by the front door waiting to be walked after dinner each night. I can’t say no to that sweet face – even thirty minutes after my bedtime.
12. We taught you to beg and now it’s your most endearing feature. You’ve got the heart strings fully under your control.
13. You eat dog toys the size of my hand WHOLE.
14. Right before my alarm goes off at 6 am each morning, you hop up onto the bed and worm your way up to the head of the bed between us. These early morning visits are my very favourite part of the day.
15. You give us the perfect excuse to spend time together as a family. Taking you down to the dog park or for a swim in the river is the highlight of my week. I love that because of you, I exercise daily and get a good dose of the great outdoors weekly.
Although there’s so much about you to love, I know that one day we will lose you. This is the most tragic thing about having a pet. Knowing that you will outlive a pet is heartbreaking. You’re only a year old, but I know that in about a decade, you’ll be taken from us. I am mourning that day already. Tears spring to my eyes as I write this…
I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.