Friday, February 15, 2008

A Year Ago Today

Around here, Friday night is soccer game night. All week they have been forecasting cold temperatures (for Texas, that is) and rain. As long as there is no lightening, the game will go on. As we left for the field, the temperature was about 37, but the rain had not yet arrived. Thank goodness! I bundled up in my heaviest coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and carried a polar fleece blanket in case the previous was not enough to chase the winter chill away. As I sat in the stands cold but not too cold, I was reminded of this day last year.

On the morning of February 15th in 2007, the temperatures were in the teens. It was frigid. Why do I remember this? Because, it was a year ago today that Harley came to live with us. This time last year, she was a four pound, very cold, 8 week old puppy who found herself in a back alley of a Dallas strip mall. Through a series of phone calls and a moment of weakness on my part, she came to live with us permanently. At that time, she was so cold and so tiny that she rode the 45 miles home curled up down the front of my shirt. Though she now weights 16 pounds, she is still the happiest as close to me as she can get.

I have never had a dog this small. And frankly, never really wanted one. If I had gone to a shelter looking for a dog to adopt, chances are I would have skipped right over this probable terrier mix. I am so thankful for the powers that are much stronger than me who were at work that day. Had I been in charge, I would have missed out on one of the most loving dogs I have ever known.

Don’t get me wrong, Harley is quite a pistol. She can hold her own and then some with our 70 pound Labrador Retriever. Granted he is one of the most docile and loving dogs in the world. He is also the consummate big brother. Though Harley does not realize that she is less than a quarter Adidas’ size, he does. She crawls over him, chews his ears, steals his bone and his beloved Frisbee, and firmly believes that she has first (and possibly only) dibs at my lap and he obliges her. From the moment he saw her wiggle across the floor, he has cared for and protected her. They really don’t like to be separated. And I don’t like to be separated from the two of them. This became patently obvious to me last week when Harley had a stomach virus and spent three days and two nights at the vet so that she could be rehydrated via IV fluids.

Harley is such a little dog that dehydration happens quickly. I was glad that the vet kept her and cared for her but both Adidas and I really missed her. He was slightly more pathetic than I was; he lay on the bed and whined all night the first night she was gone. I thought about it, but I decided it was best to hold myself together. My crying would have upset Adidas even more.

On her second day at the vet, I went to see her. We spent about 45 minutes together though she was still not hydrated enough to come home. Thankfully she was keeping food and water down at this point. She seemed back to herself at this point. She played and barked and chewed while we visited. I felt terrible when I handed her back to the vet tech and left her for a second night. I did not even want to try to imagine what she was thinking and feeling. I was convinced she would hate me forever. Fortunately for all of us, dogs are much more forgiving than we humans. Though I felt pretty miserable when I got home, Adidas was happy to smell her on my clothes. He gave me a good sniffing and then went outside hoping to find her. He seemed a bit puzzled that she still was not at home, but he must have sensed something that let him know that everything was going to be OK. He slept much better on Harley’s second night away.

These forty eight hours of not having her around made me realize what a big presence 16 pounds can have. I missed her warm body cuddled up against me during the night; I missed the exuberant kisses when I got home from school; I missed the growling over the rawhide bones; I missed her little face peeking around the shower door in the morning. Because she is like a little shadow, I missed her at every turn.

Whoever it was that said that it is the smallest things in life that bring us the greatest joy must have known Harley.