There are some holidays that, for better or worse, you’d never know about were it not for social media. I couldn’t help but notice, scrolling through Facebook, that today was National Puppy day.
It was sort of a bittersweet realization, as sadly my grandmother (and best friend, Irish inspiration, source of wisdom, and all around hero) recently lost her West Highland White Terrier, Duffy. He lived a long and mostly happy and spoiled life, and we all know that all dogs… well, I won’t finish that. But still, losing a pet is hard for anyone with a heart.
It got me thinking about animals, and the role they play in our lives. My father was, if anything, a workaholic. He’d spend 14, sometimes 16-hour days at the office. He was a man of few words from a different generation than we inhabit today. Conversations were usually short, matter-of-fact affairs that involved one of three things: 1. Will the Sox beat the Yankees this year? 2. Are you keeping your grades up, and/or 3. Has Syracuse got a Sweet 16 team this year?
But, for us, dogs were a Godsend. If my father was about one thing, it was physical fitness. So, no matter the weather (and we get some stuff up here in Upstate New York that stretches the definition of ‘weather,’ anywhere else in the lower 48) he’d walk our golden retriever, Maggie, every Sunday, for about 2 miles, or 45 minutes. I, of course, jumped at the chance to spend this time with him, and tagged along. I’d later follow, to use a corny metaphor, in his footsteps and walk her every day during my high school years.
Were it not for dogs, and Maggie in particular, I don’t know that we’d have shared those Sunday hours together for more than ten years. If you figure we walked her for 50 Sundays (and rarely did we miss one) per year, for ten years, that’s 500 hours, 500 in-depth conversations (or sometimes quiet walks) that I got to spend with my Dad that I might not have otherwise.
That’s what I got to thinking about on National Puppy Day. I don’t have some grand conclusion to draw about dogs, fathers or the limited time we all get to spend here, some of it with those we care about. I’m just grateful we had our Golden, and that she brought us together.