Dog year in review

I’ve been waiting to say goodbye to this year since Feb. 2. I might be a little premature in doing so now… something else awful could still happen! But today was my last day at work for the year, and I’m in the mood to do some reflecting.

In a way, 2011 was the worst year of my life. Isis’ death certainly was the low point of my last 25 years.

Something wonderful happened this year too. We found Mia. More precisely, Rob’s sister knew someone who was looking for a home for an apparently abandoned dog. Our Mia.

Never mind how anyone could abandon any dog, we can’t imagine how anyone could abandon Mia. She’s a wonderful dog and obviously was meant to be ours, which she proved by hopping in my car within minutes of meeting us, saying, “All right, let’s do this!” She didn’t even ask us anything like, “How many walks will I go on a week?” “What sort of diet will you be feeding me?” “How many hours will I be left alone each day?”

Rob said the other day, “Can you believe there was a time we weren’t sure if we were going to take Mia?”

She’s done wonders to restore peace, balance and happiness to our home. She’s been an excellent mentor for Leo. Even though I’m pretty sure she’s the one who told him how to escape the yard via the creek. Of course, she would never stray from our property, but Leo’s made a break for it twice, so we’re going to go ahead and fence that side of the yard.

And now we have two dogs, just like I always wanted. (Of course, one of those dogs was supposed to be Isis. We still have Isis-shaped holes in our hearts, as a fellow student in my memoir class described it.) I walked them both this morning on the wooded trail near our house, bundled up in fleece long underwear and a wool hat, admiring the frost growing on broken branches like a glistening white fungus. I meant to walk just Leo, but Mia slipped out the door ahead of us, so I grabbed her leash and took her along.

A few years ago, I had the sad realization that I never would be able to walk Isis safely on that trail. The path is too narrow and winding, so joggers and other dogs came upon us with little warning, triggering Isis’ vicious barking frenzy. I tried walking her during off-hours, but the last straw was having her pull me off my feet and drag me through the mud so she could sink her teeth into a black lab’s butt. The lab was unharmed, but its owner was not amused.

I thought I would never walk that trail again, not foreseeing a time when I would have a different dog, dogs even, who could be trusted on that narrow, winding trail. I used to be jealous of a guy I’d see walking two mellow rottweilers. Now I’m the woman walking the two huge German shepherds. They’re not perfect in public. Leo likes to grab Mia’s leash and at specific points on our route, they devolve into a National Geographic display of wildlife, rearing up on their hind legs and snarling at each other. All in play, of course, but tell that to the passing motorists who just catch the tableau of two entwined dogs with their leashes tangled around me.

Walking them was the highlight of my day.

Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

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