Three years ago, I wrote about one of the most important things in my life – my dog, Angel. (For a feel-good story and tons of goofy and puppy pictures click here.)
I’ve always been a dog person, I love dogs, but Angel is something different, or something more to me. Sometimes I wonder if it’s because I saved Angel. When she was days old, she and her brother were found and my boyfriend at the time, and I, took them in. We bottle-fed them, nursed them back to health, Angel was the runt and much more sickly. I was also the first thing she saw when she opened her eyes. I saved Angel in May 2008, but soon she ended up being the one who saved me.
My boyfriend was abusive and I was thinking of leaving him, or really trying to get up the emotional fortitude and physical courage to do so. Angel hated “Joe”. She’s the sweetest dog, but she would always bark at him, hump him and was constantly forcing her way between us. It wasn’t until I had left, and Angel was with me, that I realized she was protecting me. She loves everyone but she had chosen me as her person, and she knew Joe was hurting me. That’s all she needed to know.
After I left, she was wary of any male. She’s the friendliest dog, not particularly barky, but whenever a man was around – a roommate, a relative, a friend, a date – she would not stop barking while running circles around me as if creating a force field of sorts with the laps she wouldn’t stop running around me. This was always how she was, even with my brothers, until the day my husband came into my life. He was wary of her (he did not tell me at the time, but he was not a dog person, he has said that since Angel has converted him) and I hoped he wasn’t too put off with the barrier forming bark-fest she was sure to put on.
When Roy (my husband) first came into my home, Angel didn’t bark. At first, I thought she didn’t realize someone was there but when he was just a foot in front of her she got on her hind legs all excited and danced in a circle, licking his hand. I was dumbfounded and Roy was relieved. To this day, I credit her for choosing him for me. After Roy, she went back to barking and forming barriers between me and unknown males – my family, Roy’s family, neighbors (kids seem to be immune for the most part though) so it’s not like she just decided to stop one day. Roy was immune though. As though she sensed who he was, a part of me, and she wanted me to know she not only approved, but he belonged with us.
Even though Angel doesn’t have any formal training, I am positive she knows when I need brain surgery. I have a VP shunt in my brain to drain cerebral spinal fluid. Without it, I die. When it breaks, I get horrible headaches and violently ill before losing consciousness – it’s usually a matter of minutes. Both times this has happened since I’ve had Angel, and she seemed to know something was very wrong hours before symptoms began. I even told Roy on the phone and via text that Angel was “being weird” and super needy. She wouldn’t stop crying and had to sit on my lap, neither are normal behaviors for her. A few hours later, the headaches came and I had to have surgery – I was out for a long time, weeks. In the fog, after symptoms descended I told my surgeon one of the reasons I thought my shunt was broken was because my dog was acting strangely and keeping vigil of me. But that was a one-time thing until it happened again. And again, she would not leave my side, had to be on top of me, her face inches from mine and she stared deeply into my fully dilated eyes. She even tried to go to the hospital with me, and she’s always good about letting us leave to go out – no separation anxiety or anything. That clinched it for me, and now if she acts really needy (which is a rarity) it’s one of three things: 1) Something is very wrong with me; 2) She’s sick/not feeling well; or 3) We’re dog-sitting at our house and she wants to know she’s still my heart. She always will be.
As she gets older, I don’t want to think about my life without her. (If you want pictures and cutesy anecdotes, here is a post about her last birthday complete with a puppy birthday party! 😉 ) Part of me wants to clone her (because you can do that now, though the results and ethics are still super gray, also it’s around $50,000) and part of me wishes I had let her have one litter before spaying her, so that I could always have a part of her with me. I try not to think of what will be inevitable (but hopefully twenty years off, why can’t she break a world record for longest living dog?) so instead I focus on all of the things I love about her.
I love how she burrows and constructs. She actually moves pillows and blankets to create intricate forts on the couch and then burrows inside. That’s why we always keep four blankets on the sectional – they’re her main building materials and we would never deprive her.
I love how she loves and plays with our cat, but not in the let me chase her way most people would think of.
I love how she has performance anxiety when it comes to eating – she won’t eat until we leave the room, but she also will almost never eat until Roy gets home from work.
I love how she walks and dances on her hind legs so much it’s like she’s supposed to walk upright like us.
I love how dainty she is. She jumps over puddles, doesn’t like the dirt or mud and hates water more than our cat. When she eats, she usually grips the food/treat with both paws, cocks her head to the side and nibbles away, very ladylike. It’s both precious, and hilarious.
I love how well behaved she is. I love how gentle she is, she is gentle with kids and infants as well as strange animals, approaching slowly and never being pushy or too curious, but also being welcoming and present.
I love how affectionate she is and how she always tries to make me feel better if I’m sad, and she always knows when I am. I love how she’ll try to get me to nap with her. I love how playful she is – a real puppy for life. I love how easygoing she is – a total counter to any and all small dog stereotypes.
I love her so much. She is my heart. I’ve had dogs and various pets but she is more than any of them combined. She’s my girl and one of the best parts of my life. A part of my life that is simple and beautiful – anger or frustration or sadness are never attached to her. She’s pure and good and has the power to just set everything right.
I saved her when I found her, but how she has rescued me time and time again – there is just no comparison.
Angel really is an Angel, my guardian angel. I am so thankful and lucky to have her in my life.
I love you, lady!