I remember it was a glorious Autumn afternoon in the park. There we were, walking hand-in-hand, the dog just a few paces ahead of us. The wind was ruffling the sun’s reflection on the surface of the pond throwing a thousand sparkles across the fallen foliage. That was when we looked down and our eyes met her eye. Her gaping brown eye. As the dog, hunched and rigid, strained to produce a poop so large it didn’t really make sense.
As I had done countless times before, I reached into my pocket for the bag, mentally preparing myself for the encounter. And that was when the man I love stepped in and said the three most beautiful words I’ve ever heard: “here, let me.” And from that moment forward my life was changed.
Oona is eleven-years-old and I have had her since she was born. Her mom was really more of a surrogate, devoid of any natural maternal instinct, so Oona immediately imprinted on me and we have been all but inseparable ever since. As soon as she was born I just had a feeling that we were meant to be together.
Nearly six years ago I met my boyfriend and got a very similar feeling. We were (and are) crazy about each other and were (and are) constantly together so he got to know and love Oona very quickly (barf, I know). But, at the end of the day, she was still my dog.
Years passed, we all moved to New York and got an apartment together. I don’t know if it happened over time or all at once, but that afternoon in the park it dawned on me. Oona was our dog now. What an awesome feeling! To share the love, hilarity, and responsibility that comes with caring for a dog with someone you adore so much. And, just like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day.
And while there’s no exact date I can pinpoint, there have been countless other instances where I find myself thanking my lucky stars that I have someone I trust to share in the life-changingly beautiful burden that is pet ownership.
1. Father Figure
I’m not saying owning a dog with someone will tell you everything you need to know about their potential as a parent, but it does give you a pretty solid idea of their ability to maintain the health and happiness of another living creature. Equal parts protector and disciplinarian, my boyfriend definitely fills the paternal void in my pup’s life. He is far more harsh with her than I am which gives her Alpha Dog ego a much-needed reality check.
2. An Extra Set Of Paws
Although he can be strict, he is also extremely protective of Oona and goes above and beyond to make sure she is as comfortable and happy as possible — whether that means tucking her into bed multiple times or suiting up to take her for an icy nighttime pee break in the snow.
3. Finances Schminances
Getting a dog is, without a doubt, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made but between the food, toys, treats, and medical bills it can get expensive. I’m still Oona’s primary provider, but having someone who can take some of the sting off an impromptu (and terrifying) $450 vet visit is a blessing I don’t take for granted.
4. A Partner In Crisis
We’ve all had those nights where, for one reason or another, your dog isn’t feeling well and you’re up ’til all hours giving resassuring belly rubs and cleaning up mouth and/or butt vomit. I’m thankful for him every day, but I don’t know that I’ve ever appreciated my boyfriend more than the first night I didn’t have to do this alone. And by 4am, with Oona finally sleeping soundly, I made us chocolate chip pancakes even though we could barely keep our eyes open. I was just so thankful that I didn’t have to go through it by myself.
5. An Excuse To Expand
I’ve always been comfortable with my lot in life as someone who collects animals. Years down the line, I could totally see myself surrounded by chickens, goats, peacocks, horses, and — of course — dogs. I am lucky to have found someone as crazy about animals as I am — or at least someone that tolerates and supports my level of crazy.
As the years pass, our family continues to grow. We now have two derpy, devious cats who enrich (and impair) our lives greatly, and while that about maxes out our modest Brooklyn apartment, I know our menagerie is just around the corner!