Codependence on four legs

This morning I got up and began the day in the best way possible for me.

It was the pre-dawn hour of 4 a.m. I had cup of coffee, a blank WordPress page in front of me, and total silence all around. The demands of the day had not yet come knocking on the edges of my mind.

I had nothing to do but be … and write — something over which I will gladly lose.

Then I heard it.

The jingle jingle sound of dog tags and tiny finger (um, paw) nails making their way across my marbled living room floor.

Ten seconds later, big brown eyes gazed up at me from a miniature black and tan hot-dog shaped body. With the help of a step stool and a boost from me, Queenie, my 17-year-old dachshund perched herself on my lap.

So much for precious alone time.

“You really should seek therapy for your codependence,” I say out loud to my more human than dog canine.

She responded by licking the shin on which her head is now resting comfortably as I maneuvered my body and my computer to accommodate Her Royal Highness of Dachshund.

I’m a sucker for eyes and hers have me every time.  So when she turns her little head with the floppy ears to look at me, I’m pretty much done.  And my writing turns toward her … one of my main sources of inspiration since the Universe gifted her to me at a time when I needed her most.

I never had a dog until Queenie came into my life 119 dog years ago. The closest thing I ever came to having a pet was a parakeet named Johnny who I claimed as my own even though he lived at my Abuelita’s house.

Owning a dog was the furthest thing from my mind.  But since the Universe is wiser than me, She decided a dog would be just the teacher I needed to move forward into Advanced Life Lessons 2.0.

The minute Queenie entered my life everything changed — including me.

Despite my attempts to scare her away with yelling, she kept jumping into my lap.  To her, “Go away,” meant “Come cuddle your little body close to mine and be as clingy as possible.”

My threats to put her in the microwave and have her for dinner were met with happy panting and lots of kisses.

The can full of marbles that I shook at her to keep her from barking made her bark louder.

The water gun I pointed at her to discourage bad behavior was instead a trigger that meant “WOOHOO!!! It’s time to play dodge the stream of water!”

Seriously, what was wrong with this dog?  Why was she so happy all the time?

One day, the question changed.

What’s wrong with me?  Why can’t I be as happy as my dog as I dodge the shit storms of life?

And now, 119 years later — as I gaze into those big brown eyes for some signal that it’s time to make the tough decision that responsible pet parents are supposed to make — I am grateful for everything that 10-pound bundle of love and loyalty has taught me.

Unconditional love is often mistaken for codependence.  Call it what you will.  I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.

But I will forever honor my tiny teacher by being like her every chance I get.

Author: Barb Besteni

I've been in a writer long enough to know that change is not only inevitable, it's what keeps us going. Don't fight it, don't fear it. Embrace it and have fun.

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