A Dog Year

In November, the United States will elect one of its most unpopular candidates for the Presidency in recent memory to the office, friends of mine will celebrate the further passage of time with birthday festivities and I will commemorate a unique anniversary of my very own.

On November 8, 2015, I adopted a mixed breed dog from the Heaven Can Wait Animal Rescue Shelter in the State of Kentucky. His name is Raj, and he’s the great light of my life to date.

Admittedly, I got him with full knowledge that I was neither ready nor able to afford a dog at the time. I was working at a job that had depressed me to the point of seriously suicidal thoughts and was making barely enough at it to scrape by in a shitty apartment complex primarily designed for college students. Aware of how I was, my mother ended up encouraging me to go get him despite her calm wording in prior weeks that getting a pet wouldn’t be the best thing for me.

The first day, he looked at me like I was an alien with its genitals attached at the forehead instead of the crotch. At the shelter, I got more affection from his brother than I did from him. Though you can’t tell in our first picture together, he’d been violently fidgeting before it was taken in an attempt to get away from me. I persisted, he resisted more, and we got in the car to go back to the hovel where I was living at the time. All the while pulling and tugging at the leash in my hand.

In Month One, it took a week for him to fully adopt me. I had tried getting him various toys, taking him to the dog park and even making him a hamburger for a meal one night. None of it worked. But then, it did. After a long and godawful slog at the place I had been employed, we came home and went to sleep. Instead of going to his normal bed that was positioned under my desk, he jumped into mine and snuggled in right beside me. After that and a few moments of wildly bad behaviour, we’ve been inseparable. I assist him, and he assists me in my daily life.

He was there for me when I left my first job out of college. Though there’s no bad blood between myself and my former employer now, at the time I felt beaten and worn down. I can remember fiddling with the drafts of a suicide note and feeling like an utter failure, and then along comes Raj, running in from the other room with one of my socks in his mouth and wanting to play. You’d be amazed how a scenario like that can quickly make a grim moment fade away.

And together, we were there for each other when I recently drove across the country and out to Washington, D.C. The magic of that experience was unlike anything I’ve experienced before and probably will experience in the future. Stopping at random rest areas to share ice cream, roaring down the interstate in Wisconsin during the wee hours of the morning, all these experiences were made better because my precious and darling slice of sunshine was in the front seat beside me.

So, though you won’t ever be able to read this, thank you Raj. Thank you for being there in the bad times and joining me in the good moments. Much like my wonderful and utterly perfect human friends, you keep me going. Very much so, you’re one of my reasons for living. When you’re “Gotcha Day” comes around, we’ll eat pizza together and watch cartoons all damned day.

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