I believe in the power of wet noses. My dog taught me this.
Friction between my mother and me has dominated my adolescent years. Arguments erupted over every issue imaginable: whether or not I could wear makeup, watch TV on weeknights, or ride with newly licensed drivers. After each fight, I would storm outside in a huff, making sure to slam the door behind me, causing the whole house to shake. But one incident I remember over all of these. My mother and I were in my oddly bug-themed kitchen, spitting fire over my request to get my ears pierced. I can still hear my demanding tone, “They’re my ears! Why can’t I do what I want to with them?” I longed with my whole being to have silver dangling from my ears. But my mother was a fortress. No cry could pierce her decided heart.
“Not until you’re thirteen,” she replied, turning her back to me. Screaming with fury, I repeated my pattern of going outside, banging the door on my way. I curled up in a ball on the porch stairs, my head on my knees, and let the tears flow, pity for myself washing over me.
All of a sudden, something wet touched my elbow, nudging itself under my crooked arm. I looked up and saw the concerned, watchful brown eyes of my wise old dog. I gathered all eighty-four pounds of Hector onto my lap and let him nuzzle my face, ignoring the wet streaks he was leaving on my skin. At first my tears fell steadily on his black fur, but gradually they ceased, and I listened to the steady beat of his heart, calming my own.
I remembered how we had gotten Hector when he was just a round, furry puppy with his newborn blue eyes. But Hector was wild and uncontrollable. Centuries of Border collie herding instinct and a need for open space could not be suppressed. Hector soon conquered the underground electric wiring and was in the street all the time. Soon he invaded the neighbors’ yards and began to try to herd their children.
For his safety, my family decided to give him away and found a family in the country who wanted another border collie. Hector had thousands of acres to roam and horses to herd. The years tamed him; when his new family moved away and couldn’t keep him, we took Hector back. Stroking his small, soft ears, I realized how lucky I was to have him. Fights come and go, but the love between a girl and her dog is forever.
Now, whenever something goes wrong, from problems with peers to failed tests, I know where to go. To a friend who always listens and whose little wet nose makes everything better.
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