Author’s note: Though this sounds like a memoir, Opie is alive and healthy… I just super duper love him and want to write him a little valentine’s love letter.
Dearest Opie Dog,
It’s been over six and a half years since we locked eyes, and I’ll never stop thanking my lucky stars. I remember walking into the humane society that day on my normal Wednesday walking volunteer shift. Unbeknownst to me, as I leashed up Yoshi in the first kennel, you were waiting in the second kennel for both of our lives to change. While walking Yoshi, I even called your dad and, with giddiness, left a VM saying, “OMG there’s this super cute dog named Yoshi here… I know you said we shouldn’t get a puppy but he’s a 6 month old brindle shepherd mix and he’s a little nutty but I really like him.” Your dad got a version of this voicemail every Wednesday once we moved out of our apartment and into our house. I hung up, I walked Yoshi back to his kennel, and shrugged my shoulders saying, “You’ll find a good home, pup!”
And then I side-stepped 2 feet and your radiant golden brown eyes set into mine with that big floppy dopey tongue hanging out any side that was convenient. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I knew that in that moment you were going to be an indelible mark on my life.
“Tony, I’m not kidding: I met my soulmate. We locked eyes. I see him. This is our dog. He has to come home with us. I know I say this all the time, I literally just called, but this is different. You need to come up here now, there is no other option. I swear to you, this is our boy. His name is Opie, he’s all scraggly and fluffy but not gruff but not too sweet-looking. He’s energetic and goofy and loves to play but isn’t mouthy. They say he’s like a year. COME STRAIGHT TO NAHS AFTER WORK. Ok, I love you, bye. I’m adopting Opie.”
Or something very close to that.
You were in the throes of adolescence and I had never had a dog of my own. Say goodbye to my baseboards, wooden drum stick, wine aerator, remote control…etc, etc. I was teaching the mushy brains of high school students by day and would come home to teach the mushy brain of my Blopie Dawg. I went through stacks of books from the library trying to figure out what was going on in that big beautiful brain of yours and what fun tricks we could do next (remember when you literally devoured the pages of Dog Training: For Dummies? How embarrassing but so very appropriate.)
And through all of this – every trick we did, every walk I sometimes cried on in frustration, every full house zoomie, every pillow you *explicit content* – I craved to learn more about how we communicate. Finally, I reached out to the humane society and bashfully said that I think I need to be a dog trainer. They hooked me up with this gal Allie who I’d meet up at Starbucks with to learn from. We both had blue Subaru Foresters so I knew it was a sign. Fast forward and now I work with her!!! Thanks Ope.
Those first few years together were everything. We did classes, we went to dog parks, we road tripped, we went to a dog audition on a whim and you got to the second room with your freaking adorable face and snazzy tricks– everything!
Then Walter came. And then Archie came. And all the guilt set in, and honestly is still there. Sometimes I just look at you laying there on the couch all snoozy and I cry wondering if your life is better with us. To be fair, this also happened regularly before the kids. Remember when I freaked out that I thought you had two microchips and created a whole scenario that we’d have to go back to Oklahoma and find your first owners and I’d have to pay them a billion dollars to keep you? I’d still do it.
And it is one of the greatest gifts in my life to have this relationship with you and now to watch you and our boys. I watch Walter approach you with his palms up saying, “heyyyyyy Opie dawwwwwg,” and you teach him how to read consent. Admittedly, I also watch Walt romp around with you giving vigorous belly rubs saying, “OPIEEEEEEEEEE YOU’RE A GOOOOD BOOOOOOY OPIEEEEEEEEEEEE!,” but you’re still teaching him how to be patient. I watch Archie…. well honestly… I’m still running interference with Archie for ya because all he wants to do is give you some really big snuggle cuddles. But… I mean… you’ve taught him a real good bark and to run to the window.
You’re only 7 and a half and we’ve only known you for a year less than that, but here you are, changing my life. The house is dull when you’re getting your hair cut at Plamen’s and my hands feel empty on a walk even if I’m pushing a Titanic replica in stroller form. You make our lives so vibrant. And sure, I lose my patience when you’re demanding attention, but your easy forgiveness reminds me to not take that for granted the next time (which I usually do; I’m only human, you wouldn’t understand).
Opie dog. Blopey. Ope. Opie Jasper. Puuuuuppy dooooooog. I love you so much. Happy Valentine’s day.
- Go love on your pet