Sometimes the profound comes out of our mouths without us even thinking about it ahead of time or even realizing it when it happens. It’s afterwards that we understand the depth of what we’ve said and the real truth of those words.
I said, “We’re getting another dog.”
We had an amazing dog. His name was Ancho and he was smart, affectionate, loyal, and friendly. He had all the traits of a very good dog.
Ancho did everything and went everywhere with us. He would run down the center of our ski tracks in the Sierra back country. We’d look back up the slope and our S’s had been transformed into dollar signs. Very auspicious!
He did tricks for the Mexican federales at military checkpoints in Baja. While these five-foot tall young men with over-sized weapons would search our truck for illicit drugs and guns, he’d flip biscuits off his nose into his mouth for the entertainment of their fellow soldiers.
He would leap and pounce for fish in every creek, lake, or seashore we’d take him to and would never catch them because he lacked anything resembling technique or stealth. Except for this one time on the Sea of Cortez when one of our friends yelled, “Ancho’s caught a fish!” and we all ran out into the water in astonishment as he promenaded around the shallows with this foot long trigger fish that only wanted to wallow ashore to die. Even the other dogs on the trip were filled with wonder at the spectacle of it all.
Friends used to tell us that when they die, they wanted to come back as our dog. Who wouldn’t? We had a good life and we knew it.
And then one day he died suddenly. Out of the blue, some weird disease, and he was gone.
I held him in my arms and wailed. And when our good friends came over to comfort us and say goodbye to him, I said, “We’re getting’ another dog.”
That winter we tried to enjoy the freedom that comes with not being tied to a dog we loved so much. I shared the despair of my loss with a woman who refused to ever go through this kind of pain ever again.
When summer finally came, I said, “We’ve got to get another dog.” I had this black and white postcard of a black puppy with a white blaze on its chest laying under the front driver’s side tire of a ’57 Chevy truck and I told my husband that this is the kind of dog I wanted. Then sure enough we ended up with a puppy that looked JUST LIKE that dog in the picture. His name is Migo and he’s a very good dog.
And now I can name it: what I believe in is getting another dog.
Because getting another dog is the decision to run full bore towards love and commitment. It’s knowing that in 8, 10, 12 years, FOR SURE that dog is going to die and you’re going to be writhing in pain again.
And even knowing how devastating that loss is going to be, even though it makes you sick to just think about it, you CAN’T WAIT to do it again. We put up signs begging for it: Got Puppies???? We need a dog….
I believe that getting another dog is a physical act of pure hope and resilience. It’s a statement that I can and will bounce back from the worst of it.
Getting another dog is believing in life and the real meaning of it. I can’t think of any other decision I have made in my lifetime in the name of love with such an inevitably painful outcome.
Getting another dog is an act of unconditional optimism. It’s seeing the goodness and being grateful for all the blessings.
Knowing this simple truth makes me appreciate all I have at this moment and makes it easier to face all the inevitable grief that is part of life.