We had been told this day would come.
So, we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
And the day has arrived. Our pup is all grown up.
Long-time readers are no doubt familiar with our dog, Seneca. We found him in our backyard as a baby stray dumped by his pack when we lived in Kansas City. While we don’t know what exact breeds are in his DNA, he is predominantly a mix of Labrador and Golden Retrievers. And we were warned that the blending of these two breeds would result in a kind of puppy overdrive the likes of which are seldom seen–the perfect puppy storm.
And, lo! it came to pass. I couldn’t tell you how many shoes–particularly wife’s, to her understandable chagrin–he chewed up, how many rolls of toilet paper destroyed, the running and jumping all over the house, the bowel movements, the barking and general mischief. We love our Boots–don’t ask and, while I’m here, admit it: if you’re a dog owner, you have nonsensical nicknames for your canine, too–but he pushed us to the limit more than a few times. All the while, we were told that, each year, that puppy-ness would diminish until we would see the classic lazy retriever.
Don’t get me wrong, he can still be a pain, and he can still get riled up. He can still be annoyingly clingy, though we think that more to be because of some buried subconscious feelings of abandonment. What dog doesn’t love to play, tussle and be loved? It appears, though, that our pup we could cradle like a baby is now a grown-up big boy, content to lay by the patio window, following the ecliptic in the morning so that his toes and nose are in the sunlight until there is no more eastern exposure to be had. (Or squirrels to be visually hunted.) Here, approaching three, Seneca is no longer the puppy, for better and worse. Most surprisingly, we didn’t recognize it until after it happened.
Then there’s the looming reality that this is all prelude. That the rearing of our little fuzzy butthead into a big boy has all been a dry run–anything but dry, really–for the twin challenges to come in scant few months. And, in the same way as the first time around, we’re already being told that the day will come when our twin girls will be all grown up; that we won’t realize it until after it happens, that it will happen all too quickly. It’s hard to process that right now, when the nursery is still not ready to go, when there’s so much to take care of before E and I get here.
In so many ways, life is already seeming to escape my grasp. All I can do is hope that I’m able to feel the coarseness of the sand for a while before it slips entirely through my fingers and my children launch lives of their own. It makes me all the more grateful for that little ball of fluff we heard crying in our backyard, because that was the moment I realized I became a grown-up and I had learned my lesson.
A man cannot be a man unless he unrelentingly cares for someone else.
The day has come.