Anyone who knows me knows how much I love my dogs. I won't bore you with the story of how Arnie came to be mine, but I will say that I've been his owner for the past decade. I rescued Buster from the middle of the road when he was a tiny puppy--and my mom raised him for the first three years. He came to live with me and Arnie about a year and a half ago.
But this post is really all about Arnie. He's getting on up there in doggy years--he was grown when I got him, and the best veterinarian guess is that he's about 13. He's begun to slow down these past months and has lost his hearing. He's still active, but he doesn't move as quickly as he used to. I'm trying to prepare myself for life without him, but honestly I have no idea what that looks like.
You see, Arnie has been with me for all of what I consider my "grown up" life. He came to live with me when I still lived in a house with roommates and when I moved out on my own, he went with me. So for as long as I've been "on my own"--Arnie has been by my side. Even in the awful rental house that my mom called the "shack"--the one that only had a tiny wall heater in the front room. During the winter, Arnie and I would curl up on the couch with lots of blankets because the living room was the only room warm enough to sleep in.
We've lived in 7 houses in 3 states. He's seen me through 8 different jobs at 4 different companies--and watched me embark on a career in writing, where I would not name just a dog after him--but an actual character: Park Superintendent Arnie Bramblett in Love is a Battlefield. (My favorite line: "Arnie barked the order like a drill sergeant." ha!)
When I'm upset over any number of things--bad hair days, bad break ups, the occasional bad review--Arnie senses it. He'll come over and rest his head on my leg and look up at me with his big eyes as if to say "Tomorrow will be better."
When I've sat up all night, writing--trying to meet deadlines, Arnie has sat up too--me in the recliner and him curled up at my feet, refusing to go to bed until I did. Such sweet loyalty.
He's scared away at least 2 intruders over the years.
The 3 times I evacuated from the Gulf Coast because of Hurricanes Ivan, Dennis, and Katrina--Arnie was with me. Each time, traffic was awful and the trip easily took double the time it should have--but Arnie was there to keep me company.
So as you can imagine, we've been through a lot, he and I. I remember when I moved into my first place without a roommate--and Arnie was such a blessing. I was never scared, never lonely. He's always been content to be wherever I am.
And there you have it. I know I'll deal with it when the time comes. But until then, I'm enjoying every day--every bark, every lick, every time he puts his head in my lap.
How about you? Did you ever have--or do you have a pet that became part of your family?