Exactly nine years ago today a small, alien creature entered my life — and forever changed it.
It was October 22, 2004, the day before my birthday — the date I had originally chosen for bringing home my first dog, a scruffy waif named Frankie of undetermined age, maybe 5 or 6. What better gift to myself than the gift of canine companionship? But my friend Rebecca, the rescuer who convinced me I needed a dog in my life even though I was a travel writer, had already done the home inspection and I thought, “Why wait?” I was anxious to see if he would settle in okay.
He didn’t. Neither did I.
Frankie lay on my couch, looking deeply depressed, refusing to eat. As far as I could tell, the only demand of this spontaneous hunger strike was that he be returned to Rebecca’s home. I was strongly considering complying with this silent demand. What on earth had made me think I could figure out the ways of this species? This dog hated me, and it was all my fault because everyone knows that dogs are a man’s — and a woman’s — best friend. I was clearly unworthy of that kind of devotion.
I spent much of that day crying and also the next. I felt like a completely failure. But, slowly, as fear gave way to hunger on Frankie’s part, despair gave way to stubbornness on mine. I was determined to make that dog like me.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I was planning to write about the highlights of the life Frankie and I have had together but it’s too difficult. I see that history is going to repeat itself, as far as the waterworks are concerned. Letting Frankie go may be the toughest thing I ever have to do. At least I hope so because, right now, I can’t imagine anything worse.
So I’ll just say this. I might do a few things differently if I had it to do over again but I did the best I could, which is all any of us can ask of ourselves.
But adopting Frankie? That I will never regret, even in the face of this pain. I couldn’t have known it nine years ago, but he was indeed the best early birthday gift I could have given myself.