Tuesday, November 18, 2014

For The Love Of Dog

Today is my Cinn's birthday! She's the big 1-0. Feels like just yesterday that she was an eight week old pup at a shelter dog adoption, wearing a bib that said "maybe your baby". I didn't choose Cinn, she chose me. I went over to the crib where she was laying with her nine brothers and sisters. The rest of the fluff balls dozed, barely glancing of at me as I approached. Not Cinn. She stood up and literally stepped over all of the other dogs to get to the side of the crib where I stood. I said on the spot, "I want that one".  At the time, I thought "she's got spirit, she is courageous and doesn't let anything - like stepping on her siblings - stand in the way!" Ten years later, I realize that I actually got a big baby, a gentle giant who's scared of such things as a strong breeze, plastic bags, and pink mopeds (yes, only the pink ones). I guess she must have just really known that day that I was meant to be her mama.

Cinn has been my constant companion and my best friend. When I got divorced, I asked for (read: demanded) just one thing - Cinn. She saw me restart my life after my marriage. She saw me get engaged a second time, then subsequently un-engaged.  She saw me through as I restarted my life a second time. She's seen me cry more tears than all of the humans in my life put together. She knows when I'm sad or when my depression is bad. She comes over to me, letting me pet her, quietly putting her face up to mine. "Mama, I'm here." She's heard more soliloquies than a Shakespearean theater company. Me practicing an important presentation, me thinking out loud over the day's events, me trying to sort out my ever-muddled brain.

Cinn rarely asks for anything. Often, even if she's hungry or in need of a bathroom break, I don't know... I only find out when I walk to the door or the food bowl and she starts jumping around and I think "oh no, has she not eaten/gone out today? What a terrible mom." Cinn never talks back, gives me a hard time, disagrees with me. She loves me unconditionally. Every single day for ten years, she's run to the door to greet me when I get home, whether I've been gone eight hours or eight minutes. I can't think of a human on earth that would be that happy at my arrival multiple times every day for a decade. This is nothing against the people in my life, but when was the last time a person jumped up and down animatedly, wagging their butt and trying to hug you when you'd just run to Wawa for ten minutes?

Cinn's a great "guard dog." She wouldn't hurt a fly - in fact I think she's afraid of them - but she's big, with a deep bark, and because she's scared of everything, her back hair stands up when she seems something unfamiliar.  She's particularly good for scaring off door to door salesmen and Jehovah's Witnesses ("Hello, I've come to talk to you about... JESUS CHRIST!").

I tell Cinn she has to live until she's at least twenty five, but I'm not sure that's something even Cinn's love for me, and mine for her, can make happen. It's sad to see her graying muzzle, how she gets up a bit more slowly, her back starting to sag. I realize that large breed dogs usually have a life span of about 14 to 15 years, and her turning ten is very difficult with me. Wasn't she just a pup? Yet I know life is all too short, for humans and canines alike, and I have to enjoy every minute with her that I have. I can't take her for granted, or think of her as "just a dog". She's my baby, my first "born", and always will be. She's been as good for my mental health as any therapy or medication, and I could never put that gratitude into words. So I'll simply say:  Happy Birthday, my beautiful Cinn, my baby girl. Mama loves you from the bottom of her heart. 


  1. What a wonderful tribute to Cinn - and all of it true. She definitely has seen a lot in her ten years; she proves all of the old cliches about a dog being a person's best friend. As you point out, how many of us actually have a human being in our lives that still get excited every time we walk in the door? Perhaps a little birthday treat is in order for her.