We’ve all seen those articles on “never stop dating your partner.” That’s it – that’s the key to a happy marriage. That’s the key to any successful relationship. It all boils down to: don’t stop putting in effort – don’t get complacent, and don’t take what’s important for granted. This is about how I did exactly that but with my dog.
We just hit our 10 year anniversary a few months ago and I’m ashamed to say that I became a bad dog owner. My dog Sushi was a birthday present when I was 13 years old. We’ve been through a lot together and have watched each other grow up. She’s seen lovers come and go. Slept on all the different work uniforms I’ve come home in over the years and moved from place to place as new stages of my life began. We currently share a basement apartment and this little pudge of fluff is what I come home to everyday.
It’s been a long winter for me. As for many people who can let the short, bitter days of winter bring them down. It’s harder to get up in the mornings and even harder to remember to enjoy the little things in life. I started to forget about the most important little thing in my life; a 20 pound pug that snores in her sleep.
Each day became a routine of wake up, let the dog out in the backyard, give her food, go to work, come home, let the dog out again, feed her again, then go to sleep. Like those loveless marriages, the only time we were spending together was when we were both asleep in bed.
It wasn’t until one morning, while I was getting ready for work that I realized what I had been doing. Sushi usually wakes up with me and will follow me around as I prepare for the day. This particular morning, she got out of our queen size bed, laid down in her own in the living room and was just whimpering. I was worried it was a stomach problem because she had been vomiting up her food the last few days and was quite lethargic (even more so for a pug). So I took her for a walk to see if there was any discomfort with her walking or eliminations.
As soon as we hit the crisp air and bright sun, there was just a spring in her step. Her little piggy tail wagged happily as she pressed her smushed face against urine soaked trees. This was my dog. This was the dog I had gotten 10 years ago. The dog I had to chase down for stealing toilet paper rolls before she manages to eat them all. In the cloudiness of my own apathy, I ignored the mental health of my best friend.
It all made sense now as I sat at my desk. The vomiting, restlessness, and lack of energy. Dogs need excitement, stimulation, exercise, and affection. On my break, I went to the local Global Pet Foods and splurged on anything I thought she might like. How do you make a dog equivalent of a bouquet of flowers to say you’re sorry?
I rushed home that day and took my dog on the walk she deserved. We practiced all the tricks she knows with plenty of her favourite treats and I let her rip out the stuffing from one of my old plush toys. I’ve loved this dog since the day I met her but somehow I let myself stop showing it. I let the burdens of my life dampen one of the best things in my life. Never again will I take this friendship for granted. It’s sad to say that it was almost easy to forget about her. She doesn’t get mad or leave passive aggressive notes. To some, it might seem like I’m over exaggerating. It’s just a dog they’d say – and it’s true, it is just a dog. However, for some people like me, that means a lot. How lucky we are to have something love us so unconditionally with such unwavering enthusiasm.
By: Elizabeth Chim