I still remember that day like it were yesterday. I had only teetered back and forth on the idea of fostering a pup for about a week. You were a surprise. I wasn't ready. But you needed me. Nobody had ever needed me before.
I ran to my boss's office and explained I needed a long lunch. There was no time to make a decision. You were waiting. I was shaking the whole way to the shelter. Could I do this? I'd never had a dog. I was a crazy cat lady after all. Could my cat adjust to you? I hadn't puppy-proofed the apartment. I didn't have toys or food or a leash. What was I getting myself into?
Then there you were. God, you were so tiny. You looked me straight in the eye as they put you in my arms and I fell head over heels in love. I no longer cared that I wasn't ready. I was going to protect you and love you and make sure you got the best home imaginable. Even if it wasn't with me.
The Humane Society was generous enough to give me a crate and a bed and toys as well as your food and puppy training pads. But you didn't come with instructions....
I was clueless. We got burgers for lunch. Then we brought our burgers to the park and sat on the grass and I laughed as you licked the cheese from my chin. A wobbly homeless man approached us drinking a beer with no shirt on and all three pounds of you backed up into my lap and started barking and growling ferociously at him. Wow, you already loved me too.
And so began my path to motherhood. For three weeks I would take care of you as if you were my own. I would make sure you made it to your vet appointments and I'd snuggle you a little extra after they took out your lady parts. But that also meant that it would be time to give you back. And for that, I once again wasn't ready.
You see, Cricket, something happened in that three weeks that I fostered you. Something awakened inside of me. The whole time I had been convincing myself you needed me, but the truth was...I needed you.
And so it was final. I was a first-time foster fail. I've always loved the quote from Thomas Edison, "I failed my way to success." Now I truly had. In the best way imaginable.
Keeping you was the best decision I've ever made. It still amazes me that despite the cracks in our communication that you love me so much. I still don't understand why you try to bury your dinner with your nose before you eat it.. I wish I knew why it takes you so long to find the perfect place to poop or why you insist on hiding your half-eaten treats in the couch cushions. I'm not sure why you bark at some neighbors and wag your tail at others or why sometimes you lay on your back and stare at the ceiling and sigh.
I wish we spoke the same language. So that you would understand how much I love you. So that you would know how proud of you I am and what a good dog you are. You'd know that I brag about you as if you were my child to all of my friends and that I show off those thousands of pictures of you on my phone to everyone I meet.
Before I met you I was alone (sans the independent kitty). I traveled alone, adventured alone, dined alone . But I was happy being solo. Then you came along and filled a piece of my heart that I didn't realize was empty. Suddenly I had a best friend. Thank you for listening to all of my secrets and never telling a soul. Thank you for licking the sleep from my eyes in the morning and making sure all the dishes are clean before I put them in the sink. Thank you for the little mo-hawk you get and the way your ears perk up when we are out with Mother Nature to let me know I need to be alert. Thank you for chewing up my flip, but leaving me my flop. They were worn out anyway. Thank you for letting me dress you up even though I swore I never would. No dog should celebrate a Christmas without an ugly sweater.
Thank you for giving the kitty a newfound lease on life. For giving her 18 years youth again. For being a companion to her as well. For teaching her where to hide her toys and her treats and for loving on her when I'm not looking. Thank you for not eating her poop and for never asking to share her food. And thank you for sharing ME with her. Before you, I was all she had.
Thank you for moving across the country with me and leaving all of your friends and snow-days behind. Thank you for accepting this new life we've been blessed with and filling my eyes with that sense of wonder again now that we are in a new place. Thank you for recognizing when I'm scared or sad in this big new world and being my rock through it all.
I need to apologize to you too. I know being my pup hasn't always been the easiest. I'm sorry for the nights I went out when I should have just stayed home and played with you. The long days at work and for the days I slept too late and you were forced to hold it until I woke up. I'm sorry I keep buying treats you don't like and for losing your favorite ball. I'm sorry for always asking you to sit so I can take your picture. I know you get embarrassed by me in front of your friends. I'm sorry we can't adventure every day and I'm sorry about the bee stings and the broken leg. When you hurt, I hurt. And I'm determined to protect you even better in the years to come. I promise to always be your thunder buddy. I promise that the vacuum will never eat you. I swear that no matter how many other animals you smell on my clothes that you and the kitty are my favorites. I promise the people driving the loud cars will never run you over and that the fireworks will never hurt you. I promise...NOBODY will ever hurt you.
Finally, I just want to say thank you for being my best friend. I don't think you'll ever know or understand how you've saved me. To say I've changed since I met you is an understatement. Because of you I know the importance of love. I have something to look forward to when I come home every day. I'll never grow tired of your butt-wiggle and that wagging tail when I walk through the door after work followed by the over-abundance of kisses. Even the kitty has started showing excitement when I get home. You've changed our lives in so many ways and all of them are for the better. Cricket, you are my angel. Thank you for opening my eyes to what an amazing life this can be. For your love, your trust and your loyalty. Please know I will love you even after we can no longer run and play. I'll never give up on you. Just like you've never given up on me.
I love you my little bug.