The day we got our dog it was sunny and cool. A perfect fall day. We followed the directions down a long dirt road and I felt a rush of excitement when we pulled up the the big red barn. There was a donkey roaming in the grass and a woman standing outside welcoming us in. This was it! October 4, 2014 was a big day - the day we were getting our puppy. I had always wanted a dog.
The first time I asked for a dog I was four. I planned on naming him Donald Duck, and I continued asking for this dog every year. My family did finally get a dog after I left for college, but this little puppy from the big red barn would be my very own. The first dog that I would watch grow up and help train and take care of. My first dog.
When we walked into the barn there were four puppies. Three of them ran towards us barking and biting and jumping. One with dark ears waited his turn, and walked toward us cautiously. He gave me a shy look as I scratched his ears. "I want this one." I said. And my husband agreed. This little quiet puppy with dark ears and big black eyes cuddled against me as I picked him up. The woman working kissed him on the head and agreed we'd picked a special dog. I was in love. A shy puppy to fit in with our introverted household. We named him Harvey, after my favorite children's book.
We got in the car and took off. After a minute the furry little bundle in my arms popped up. He put his little front paws against the window and let out a happy yelp. Then he licked my face. He bit my ears. He tried to crawl on the dashboard. Then he turned to me with a floppy tongue and smiled. I guess he has more energy than he originally showed...
We learned quickly that Harvey was not the quiet soul we thought, but it didn't matter one bit. He was and is the life of the party everyday in our house. He has endless energy and so much spunk. He's excited to greet every single person who comes to the door. He knows when you need a laugh and when you just need someone to sit on your feet to keep them warm. He's insanely snuggly, and refuses to lay at the end of the bed, preferring to keep his head right next to yours on the pillow. He's the most outgoing member of our family for sure. He has more friends than my husband and I combined. We both agree we'd be completely lost without him.
A big motivator for us in getting a dog was my husband's work schedule. He often works shifts that keep him away at night, and I wanted a companion for the nights I would be home alone. Loneliness is a terrible feeling, and Harvey helps keep it away during long stretches of overnight shifts. It's a blessing to always have someone to come home to. My husband and I have both said that it's Harvey's quiet presence that makes us feel less alone. It's nice to have someone to eat dinner with, even if that someone is ignoring his kibble and begging for just a little piece of chicken.
Maybe it's a little odd to consider your dog your best friend. But Harv is mine. He's my closest confidant and steadfast companion. He's a great accountability partner for walking and running and he makes sure I stop to say hi to the neighbors. He reminds me everyday to not take life so seriously. He watches out for me and makes me feel safe and understood. Or, as my husband put it when I asked if he had anything to add, "He's just a good boy."
One Sunday at church our priest paraphrased Anatole France, saying, "Until you've loved an animal you have a hole on your soul."
I couldn't agree more.