A Little Puppy Love

I honestly can’t believe I’ve never shared this story here on my blog. I have had it written up for quite a while, but, somehow, I guess I never got around to posting it. I’ve searched my blog up and down without finding it. At first, after not finding it posted in here, I told myself I wouldn’t share it at all. Perhaps too much time had passed, and there is something about this memory that still feels raw and emotional to me. Raw and emotional in a good way, but still …

Anyhow, my anniversary is coming up soon. On Monday, I will have been married to my beloved husband for eighteen years. When I started thinking about that, my thoughts, naturally, turned toward how my husband makes me feel loved and special all the time. Not necessarily in giant ways, but in little ways. Don’t get me wrong. Giant shows of affection and love are wonderful. But I think it’s the little things upon which a strong marriage is built. This memory  is one of those “little” things. Once I realized that, I knew I had to share it. So, here goes …

Once upon a time, I was young and just starting out in life. This was before I had finished graduate school … or even college. It was before I had figured out who I was and who I wanted to be. Actually, I’m still trying to work that one out, but I suppose that’s a post for another time. This was before I was a mom. Or a wife. Back then, it was just my boyfriend and me, set adrift in a huge and exciting universe full of adventure and possibility. One day, of course, my boyfriend would become my fiancé. And then, my husband. But I didn’t know that back then. I hoped, but I didn’t know.

My sweetie bought me a puppy. He was my first English Springer Spaniel — a perfect bundle of cuteness, mischief, and energy all wrapped up in a furry package, complete with sweet puppy breath. I loved him from the first moment we met, and, through him, I fell head over heels for an entire breed. We named him Tex, and he was my “gateway dog”. He went to graduate school with me. He slept on my bed. He was there for me when I thought my whole world was horrible and wrong. He moved from place to place with me. When I thought I was the biggest failure in the world, he showed me that I was someone worthy of love. He was my child before I had a human child. He’s been gone for over 10 years now, and I still grieve for him.

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When Tex was a puppy, my husband (then-boyfriend) gave me a sweet, little, ceramic Springer Spaniel figure. It was tiny and so cute and perfect, even though it wasn’t the exact same color as my Tex. It was special to me because it represented my Tex Boy, and because my sweetheart gave it to me knowing I would love it. And, over time, it became even more sentimental and special to me. I carted this little figure all over Texas as I moved from one place to another. I moved it from Texas to Virginia with only minor damage. I had this figure for over twenty years. It always sat on my bookshelf, and, after Tex passed, it sat on top of the box containing his ashes. It seemed fitting, somehow.

Some time ago, I happened to be looking at my bookshelf, and I noticed that my little dog statue didn’t look quite right. Upon closer inspection, I realized my cleaning ladies had broken my little dog beyond repair. All four legs were gone and, of course, they didn’t bother gathering up the pieces so that I could repair it. I searched for them in my office and under the shelves, but I’m sure the legs were long gone, probably sucked up in the vacuum cleaner or tossed out with the trash. Because, really, how could the cleaning ladies know how important this little statue was? How could they know that, out of all the things I own in this world, this one, little, seemingly unimportant bit of ceramic and paint was irreplaceable?

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I was heartbroken. Just heartbroken. I sat at my desk, holding my little broken dog, and cried. I cried because there are parts of me that are still broken from losing my Tex, even after all these years. I cried because my little dog couldn’t be replaced and because it had felt as if so many of my memories were held within that one, little piece. I cried because I had so carefully moved this statue from place to place, and it had only taken my cleaning ladies one thoughtless moment to undo years of care. I cried because, even though I knew it was such a little thing, it all just seemed so damn unfair. I cried until I didn’t think I could cry any more. Until I thought I was all cried out, and I was able to remind myself how silly I was being. I took a deep breath, wiped my tears, and put my broken dog back on the shelf, on top of the little box holding Tex’s ashes.

That evening, my husband came home and realized I was upset over something. He asked what it was, and I told him. Even though I thought I had cried myself out earlier in the day … and even though I knew I was being silly about it … I started crying all over again as I explained to him about my little, broken dog. My husband held me and let me cry. He didn’t tell me I was being silly. He didn’t tell me it was “just a statue”. He didn’t tell me I shouldn’t be upset. He told me he was sorry and that he loved me.

A week or so later, a box arrived in the mail. It was addressed to me and covered with many stamps. I was curious and confused, as I knew I hadn’t ordered anything. My husband called and told me I should open it. And so, I did.

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Inside was a little, ceramic dog statue. Just like the one my cleaning ladies had broken. It was a perfect replica, right down to the funny little spot on the side of the dog’s nose. And, in the packing materials, there was a little Springer puppy, too. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had spent a few days online, tracking down a replacement for my broken dog. I gently removed it from the packing materials and set it on my shelf, next to the box that holds Tex’s ashes. I’m not sure I have ever felt more loved than in that moment. And, yes, I cried. But this time, they were happy tears.

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