Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Friday, September 30, 2005

My "Dogga" Sandy

In skimming the list of posts filed under "My Life - Ups and Downs", I note the obvious fact that those in the latter category currently far outnumber the former. This makes it seem as if I am a typically pessimistic or depressive person, which is far from the truth. It's just that the part of my life I have most tended (needed) to blog about so far, are the impacts and changes caused by Aaron's loss. So to balance things just a little, I'd like to write about a positive change that occurred in our family not so long ago - April 16, 2004 to be exact. That's when Debbie brought home Sandy, our first family dog.

As background, let me note that I grew up with an attitude towards dogs which is quite unusual for general American society but fairly typical in the Orthodox Jewish community. Namely, I was terrified of them. As were my parents, siblings, and most of my friends and relatives. Our next door neighbors had a collie, and for me to even play on their swing set, with their dog in the house or on a chain, felt like a major act of daring. The concept of actually owning a pet dog was about as foreign to me/us as owning a pet rhinoceros.

Debbie, on the other hand, had grown up with a succession of family dogs, and always felt like it would be nice for us to have one. But I just couldn't relate to her descriptions of the joys of dog ownership, as impassioned as they were. I did grow less uncomfortable with dogs - mainly my in-laws' poodle - over the years of our marriage, but never even came close to feeling ready to own one.

And for the many years that we had small children, and then in 2002-03 when we were house hunting and then remodeling, Debbie didn't really advocate very strongly for getting a dog, acknowledging that we had a lot on our plate. But starting about two years ago, with us settled in the re-built house and the kids getting bigger, she started to feel the lack of canine companionship more intensely.

Over the next few months, we had many, many - um, discussions about this. To skip the gory details, in the end, we agreed to try it - though I can't say that my agreement was with a full heart. Much as I wanted to make my wife happy, my lifelong instincts were very hard to overcome.

We picked April 16th as the date for "D-day" for two reasons, one practical, one emotional. For the former, it was immediately after Passover, thus affording us maximal time before having to worry about dog food chametz issues, and was also a Friday, giving us a full weekend to supervise the dog and for it to get used to its new environment, before we'd all go back to work and school. On the sentimental side, April 16th is Debbie's birthday, so our new acquisition served as a very special, if self-chosen, present.

The day arrived, and Sandy - named by the kids for her then sandy-brown coloring (she's now nearly all white) - came home with Debbie that afternoon. She was a Maltese-Lhasa mix, small, fluffy, and adorable. And my first reaction, while not quite one of abject terror, was not exactly welcoming either. This would be Debbie and the kids' dog, I thought, and I would be as little involved as I could.


OK... Since you can all spot the ending of this yarn a mile away, let's just cut to the chase! In spite of myself, and gradually over a period of weeks and months, Sandy managed to win my heart! I have become a dog-owner, and more, found the unexpected capacity to feel love for dogs - or at least, for one special dog. Or "dogga" as I like to call her. I find that a much nicer term for "female dog" than the usual nomenclature!

Nobody who knew me as a child, and sees me with Sandy now, can believe it. I guess change really is possible. The bond that has formed and is still forming, the unconditional love with which I'm greeted, and which I return, whenever I walk in the house, is proof positive of that.

A final note, since everything in my life does feel connected with Aaron. As I've mentioned before, Aaron was a typical teenage boy in many regards, especially in terms of maintaining his cool, aloof front at all costs. Physical or even verbal demonstrations of sentiment were much too mortifying to consider. With one exception - Sandy. With our then-puppy, Aaron was able to show genuine, open affection - cloaked in sarcasm, to be sure (I can still hear his voice saying "c'mere, you mangy mutt!"), but definitely real.

It was as if this was his outlet for all the gentle emotions that he dared not expose otherwise. Only one of the many beneficial changes that Sandy has brought to our family. And a happy memory of Aaron that we now can treasure.

Thank you, Debbie, for winning this marital disagreement. And thank you too, dogga!


At 9/30/05, 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do we get to see a picture of the dogga? Shabbat Shalom and k'tiva v'chatima tova!

At 9/30/05, 6:14 PM, Blogger benros52589 said...

the dog is one of the few dogs that no how to be good wout biting and is smart and listens

At 9/30/05, 11:35 PM, Blogger JC said...

I think that a owning a dog is huge. They say that you will actually live longer if you own a dog. I think that is because they are so good at letting us let go of the stress of the day and are always there to console us when times are hard. They love us when we can't love ourselves and we get to have a baby again when our kids get older. My dog drags me out of the house and gets me moving, which is very healthy. I am sure that without him, I would sit here in front of this screen waayy too many hours. I am glad that you changed your mind.

At 10/2/05, 12:12 PM, Blogger Mirty said...

I was terrified of dogs when I was a little kid. Of course I love them to pieces now.


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