Monday, October 8, 2012

Woman's Best Friend, Part I: The Beginning

It's no secret that I'm totally crazy about my dog, Sushi. Her full name is Sushi Louise Wasabi and she is a 90 lb Yellow Labrador Retriever. On December 15, she will be six years old- the equivalent to 42 in dog years (whatever the hell they are?!). I also will be 42 this December, so for a year we will be the same age. Twinsies. I keep telling her we will have a girls day out and get our nails done and have lunch together. She just gives me that same look she always does when I talk incessantly to her.

I remember the first time I laid eyes on her, she was only 6 weeks old and so incredibly cute I could barely stand it. I wanted to take her right then but had to wait at least two more weeks. I loved her from the moment I saw her.

The events leading me to getting her in the first place are not very pleasant. I was nearing the end of my active addiction to alcohol, so my drinking was far out of control. I was also living with a certified crazy person who was abusive. We'll leave it at that, for now. The crazy person physically hurt me one night and the next day, as an apology, told me he was going to get me a puppy. It was so cliche that I almost laughed out loud: man hits woman, man feels bad and says it will never happen again, man buys woman a gift. A Lifetime movie in the works, let me tell you.

Me and Sushi-girl in early 2007 at Aunt Carol's house.
So the two weeks passed and on a Sunday afternoon in February of 2007 I picked up my girl. She was  perfect and beautiful and the thought struck me: I can barely take care of myself right now, how am I going to take care of this helpless puppy? The answer is, I did. I did what I was supposed to do and took her to the vet, played with her, loved her and even taught her how to go to the bathroom outside. She was a quick learner and a fun girl who followed me everywhere and looked at me with adoring eyes. I had to shift my priorities to accommodate my dog. I could no longer stay out late or not come home at all- I had to take care of my Sushi-girl. Regardless of my condition, I needed to be there for her and I was.

A few months  after I got her, the crazy person and I got into yet another altercation and I decided to leave that situation for good. The events that followed lead to my going to rehab and getting sober. For the first time in a very long time I had free time on my hands due to the fact that I no longer drank every night! It just so happened that Sushi, being a Labrador, was by nature very high energy and needed to expend that energy. The result was that I took Sushi out every day and tried to tire her out. I threw a tennis ball to her, using a ball-launcher because I throw like a girl, about 1000 times a day.  I took her swimming at one of the many bodies of water nearby, and I walked her incessantly. Sometimes I did all of these things in one day. My goal every day was to tire her out and I did the best I could.

I always say that Sushi saved me, and she really did! I had to muster up enough responsibility to take care of her. She forced me to look beyond myself and to put her needs ahead of my own. That, as a friend recently pointed out, is the definition of love.

                                              Seriously, what's not to love about this face?