As you know, I entered this year determined to be fearless. But, I don’t want more fear or less in my life. I want more love. So I made up a new word, lovemore! That’s why Lovemore Mondays are here.
Last week I shared a love story about Words.
Today’s Lovemore Monday is a love story about Dog Food.
As in, feeding the soul.
My first dog, Pepper, followed me everywhere I went.
After I stayed up too late watching Godzilla on television with my older cousins, my parents came up with a grand master plan to calm my freaked out young child nerves — they sent in the dog.
From that night on, Pepper slept on my bed until old age took all the leap from his legs. When he could no longer make the jump to my bed, I crawled my teenage body down to the floor to snuggle with him instead.
When Pepper died, I was heartbroken.
I missed my shadow.
I begged for another dog. My parents refused. According to their thinking, I was too close to college age and once I flew, the nest would empty.
I wanted another dog, they didn’t.
As it turned out, I would be the one to get my way.
My begging was half-comical, the other half high-pitched-whiny serious. It began with, “I want a puppy!” proceeded to, “Why not?” and ended with my parents conversation stopper of all time “Because.”
Then, everything changed.
At seventeen, I was diagnosed with cancer. One month later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Through the terror and turbulence of treatments, hospital stays, needles, never ending hair loss and uncontrollable vomit, I could always lighten the mood in the room by saying those magic words.
“I have cancer and … I. Want. A. Puppy.”
Sometimes I would change it around to:
“Can I have a puppy? You know I have cancer…”
It always made my Mom laugh. It became an ongoing joke. And, it seemed like such a small request against the health care hurdle we were climbing.
So, on my eighteenth birthday, a big fluffy dog named Balou came into my life.
Balou was a gift.
She was a birthday present from Justin, as a tiny little fur ball of a puppy just as I finished radiation treatment — and a short eight months before I left for college.
My mother once told me that when Balou came into my life, my sparkle came back. After all the treatments, all the terror, all the unknown, she told me, “that dog brought back your smile” and she swore Balou took on my personality.
In a roundabout unexpected way, I got my way.
And, my parents inherited a dog.
Once I left for college, that dog never left my mother’s side. When I couldn’t be there, Balou was. When I couldn’t hug my mamma, my dog did. She was with her everyday that I couldn’t be, even on the day my mother passed away.
In a way, I think dogs are like guardian angels — with paws instead of wings.
While I sit here typing this post with our beloved Pup next to my side, I know somewhere, up there, is a Pepper and Balou watching over me. Maybe their spirits are just in my heart, and that’s okay…
Because dogs are food for the soul.
That is why, when it comes to dog food…
I. Love. It.