Saturday, December 06, 2008

Canine gratitude and the fear of Old Yeller...

My dog Zeke was a 36th birthday present from my husband over a year ago. I won't sugar-coat it - as a puppy, he was the biggest pain in my ass. Being a diehard dog lover, I often found myself wanting to drop him off at the pound - and I threatened it to his face several times. That's how sleep-depriving and rotten of a puppy Zeke was.

So, it makes me smile these days to see that Zeke has grown out of most of his bad habits. My boxer, Tess, has always been my favorite (I've always said you can pick favorites with dogs while you can't outwardly pick a favorite kid), but Zeke's now joined the high-ranked status of Tess, the obvious angel in a dog's body. He can still be a rotten prick, but I've found that I love all my pups like human children. Hell, my dogs ARE my kids.

Like most dogs, Zeke is ritualistic. Even though he was my birthday present, he's definitely Husband-man's biggest fan. Case in point: Every night before we go to sleep (both the Danes and the boxer sleep on their own separate beds on our bedroom floor), Zeke starts to get settled in his bed, then walks over to Husband-man's side of the bed and puts his head on his chest as if to hug him. Then he kisses Husband man direct on the mouth, walks back over to his bed, and completes his "say goodnight" ritual, before laying down and letting off a loud sigh that sounds much like a 65-year old man with sleep apnea.

In the morning, though, that's when he saves his rituals for me. I'm up at 5 every day, and like clockwork, Zeke is there to greet me. Or, his nose is, anyway. Even on the weekends, he puts his snout right in my face to remind me that dogs don't understand the difference between workdays and sleep-in weekend days. He's a giver like that.

Call me the crazy lady down the street with all the dog hair in her house, but I just love them. I'll never apologize for being grateful for those little furry masses of love. They've given me so much more than I could ever give them. And, I simply cannot imagine a full life without dogs.

Which is why I hesitate to go see the new movie, Marley and Me over the holidays, even though I want so badly to see it. Husband-Man has been vocally against going, as he believes it'll be another "fall in love with dog on screen, then get your heart ripped out as you watch the dog die like Old Yeller" movie. Think about it - K9 cop, Turner and Hooch, Old Yeller, I'm sure there are more that I've blocked out - they're all the sap-filled movie that makes you think about how much you love your own dogs, then BAM! Death. Merry Christmas.

So, our Christmas Day movie choice is still up in the air. I never got around to reading the book, so I could be wrong about this ending thing. We may see Marley as a geriatric old furball and then the credits roll. But in my heart, I know the formula too well. Regardless, I'm seeing this movie eventually. And, when I do, I'm going to be a complete friggin mess by the end of it.