Ever since I could remember, I wanted a dog.
I wanted a dog so bad.
I would stay up at night just thinking about how much I wanted a dog. About all the kinds of things we would do. About how infinitely awesome my life could be if I just had a dog. I was a weird kid, and beyond just being weird - I have ADHD, and a lot of the symptoms were more evident in my youth than they are now. Point is: I didn’t make friends easily, but boy, could I make bullies. I was miserable. For the most part - I was generally alone. I had rabbits, but they weren’t dogs (and this is not their story), and so I thought up a plan.
If I could show my parents how good I was at taking care of a dog - surely they would get me one! So I made my bed, and then I would make a second, right at the foot of it. And there I would lay this huge golden retriever plush-toy I had, and beside my bed, on the floor, I would put two empty, imaginary dishes. I remember thinking to myself, “This is gonna work! I’m gonna have a dog. Dad’s gonna be so proud of me that I’m going to get a dog.”
I did not get a dog.
Not right away, at least.
By a strange occurrence of events which were, ultimately, some losses: we stepped into a store. This pet store usually had pups in little ring-gates that you could interact with, and lo-and-behold: there was this puppy. He was kind of goofy, kind of small, and his eyes just didn’t shut entirely. He didn’t seem to fit with his litter mates. Which was startlingly like myself. Now, as a dog lover, of course the first thing I did when I saw these guys was basically try to pick every one up, but only this runt dude came to me.
This would later be Patches.
I begged my dad to get him. Dad said no. We left with a new rabbit. Ok, simple enough. Then, dad went back. Brought back another rabbit. Cool, not a puppy, but cool. Then, the rabbits started to fight. Dad went back to get another cage.
And came back with a puppy.
I will always remember the first time I met Patches in his new home. My sister lived with us back then, and we were stretched out on the floor, watching TV. We heard the car, so we had sat up - but no one moved faster to greet this dog than me. This bag of fur and bones just tumbled down the steps, he was so tiny - and he flopped. All on the ground. And my mother said: “Meet Patches!”
I was so excited I took him around the block on six-week-old tiny paws. Tuckered him right out.
My life expanded. I moved away from cruel bullies, and to somewhere I did not know. I experienced heartbreak, and I experienced severe let downs. I experienced abuse and I experienced the fear of what it’s like to nearly lose friends, and then actual lose them. I experienced the hardship of living with someone you think you might love but mistake it for something else.
And the constant in all of these things is not evident; it’s Patches, who has been like a rock to me. He was always there, when I needed to shove my face somewhere soft and cry. His ears were like velvet, and they always perked when I spoke. He always breathed so loud and when he snored, he shook the floor. He did this thing, when he got excited, where he tap-danced around the house. He loved cheese, though we didn’t love his farts.
I could tell you everything about him, but we don’t have time for that. The one thing you should know is that he was a good dog. He was so good, even if he took off across the road, and laid on the couch when he wasn’t supposed to, and left half a pie because he couldn’t reach the other side. Those things would never make him a bad dog, not his barking or his knack for eating shit he wasn’t supposed to and then vomiting up. He was a good dog, and he was my friend, and I will miss him every day. I will miss vacuuming the carpet and the stupid cover we had to keep on the couch so his fur wouldn’t get on it. Or his terrible licking habit. I will miss the warmth of his belly against my feet at night, and the way he would literally shove his foot against my ass to get more room.
I will miss his breathing, when it’s late, and I can’t sleep.
Patches was a good dog. And he was loved. And he knows that. I made sure of it.