Happy National Dog Day. I’m not sure you knew this was a day unlike any other, and I’m not sure if you’ll ever know, considering you don’t know how to use the internet. Except for the time I caught you using my computer. Man, that was funny.
If I’m correct, this is our 12th National Dog Day together — considering we rescued you in November/December and adopted you in February. I’m sorry I forgot all these years. To be perfectly honest, that one’s on you. You’re vocal enough to tell me when you’re hungry, or want to be lifted up on the bed, or every time you’ve got to take a shit. You couldn’t tell me there was an entire day for your people?
I remember the day you first entered our lives, a seven-month old ball of fluff and fur.
See up in the top-left corner? That androgynous chubby Jewish looking kid? That’s 12-year-old JayTas. Not much has changed. I look less like Rosie O’Donnell now. I got glasses and stopped wearing purple windbreakers, so I got that going for me, too.
I have a confession to make to you, Duds. Before that picture, I was not a dog person. At all. I was so freaked out by dogs. I didn’t grow up in a house with a dog from early childhood. Friends’ dogs used to chase me around and bark at me. A couple German Shepherds said an anti-Semitic slur to me once. I just didn’t mix with canines well. So, of course, we got one of the most hyperactive, playful dog breeds on the planet — with a penchant for running, barking, and jumping on people.
To me, this dog was my little sister’s; she was the one who wanted you. She researched your breed (hypo-allergenic, natch) and she signed our family up for the rescue website/organization where we adopted you. So, I ran from you. I hid. I didn’t play with you. I think I even cried at one point because I thought you were attacking me.
But you didn’t give up on me. Not once. Not ever. You were persistent and you kept trying. You showed me that you weren’t some angry hellhound trying your hardest to rip my flesh off. You were just a sweet, kind, playful, loyal dog looking for a best friend. And that’s what you became, my best friend in the whole entire world. Nobody comes close: Not my girlfriend, not my sister, not even my parents. Just you. My little brother. And I’ll get to why in a minute.
We really did grow up together. You slept in my bed every night from high school through college, when I moved back home after college, then AGAIN when I moved back in a few years later. My parents would come in to see you literally sleeping on top of me. That explains my neck and back pain, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. You were there through every bad interaction with a teacher, every college rejection, every GIRL rejection, every breakup, every fight and every shouting match with my parents. You were always there to give me your paw and an inordinate amount of face-licking. Seriously. An almost-sickening amount of face-licking.
That’s not to say I didn’t do stuff for you, either. What’s that, you ask? Well, I picked up your poo. Isn’t that enough? I literally pick up your shit on a regular basis. Who else on earth would put up with your crap? Literally.
Part of the reason why I’m always so excited to come home? It’s you. The face that greets me on the top of the steps with a wagging tail and a look in your eyes that says “Hiiiii, Brother!” The light on your face that suggests your entire world just walked through the door and you can be happy again.
You’re the brother I never had. The loyal companion that follows me around on every adventure, whether that’s a car trip anywhere (your favorite), a long walk in the neighborhood, going swimming (your least favorite thing in the world), or even just hanging out on my bed. Our bed. Sorry. It’s as much yours as it is mine.
But another reason why these moments are so special to me is because I know you won’t be around forever. I’m in constant denial because, let’s face it, you’re 13-years-old and you still act like you’re three. You’re loud and proud and puppyful. But you’ve lost some of that skip in your step, my friend. I try to ignore how hard it is for you to climb the stairs, but I see it. And you do too. But you don’t care, because nothing’s more important to you than following me around, or following your family around and giving them love and attention.
You’re a pain in the ass, and that can’t be denied. You’re willful and you hate listening. You whine and cry and bark when people don’t give you constant attention and rubs. You beg for food. You try to eat food off of the living room table during holidays. You ate Uncle George’s burger right off of his plate two Memorial Day BBQs ago. You also stink really bad, and you hate getting bathed.
(Right before bath-time)
You’re also a creature of unconditional love and affection. It’s a metric that nobody can measure, but certainly nobody who has met you can deny. Your spirit is infectious, your goofy behavior is contagious, and you seem to put a smile on the face of everyone you meet. You change lives. You changed my family’s lives; you turned us into dog people.
You changed my life. No matter how old I get, I’ll never forget you. But the portrait I’m having commissioned of you will help that. (Oh by the way, Mom and Dad, if you’re reading this, I had a portrait of the dog commissioned.)
Happy National Dog Day, Dudley. It almost feels disingenuous to celebrate the holiday because I really feel like you’re a person. In my household, you’re treated as such. But you crap outside and can’t eat chocolate, so you’re most certainly a dog.
I hope it’s filled with all the cheese and rubs that a best pal like you deserves.
Thank you for everything.