In fact, I have gotten in the habit of taunting my friend Marianne about the day after my birthday (and a couple of other days in the year, but I know this is the one that “gets” her every time), to get the tissues ready.
Because I tell the same story every year, and it starts like this:
It was the day after my birthday. I bought a car, I bought a crate, and I drove down to Maryland to pick up my dog.
This is the ninth year I will be telling this story. It starts this way, every year. Some details get added, some are omitted, and every year I am gladder that I get to tell the story again.
It almost doesn’t matter any more why I decided that I wanted a border collie to begin with. What really matters is that rescue after rescue told me that I COULD NOT have a border collie, not in New York City.
Never mind that I was trying to adopt my first dog ever. I knew (I did, right?) an adult border collie was going to be “difficult”. But how dare they deny ME providing a home for an unwanted dog!?!? Those were the magic words. “You cannot”.
I did finally convince someone to let me adopt a 4 year old male border collie though, nine years ago.
People tell me that Finn is lucky to have found me. I think he was totally meant to be mine. He knew that he found his sucker when he saw me. Played aloof a little, then gave me a big stare, then his goofy smile.
I will never forget the first day I got him to NYC. He was so scared he was practically crawling on the street as I tried to walk him from my garage to my apartment. Automatic doors opened and he jumped. I thought he would never go to the bathroom on concrete. Thank goodness he’s the kind of dog that would sell his soul for food because he had never seen stairs before and back then, I lived on the 4th floor of a walk up. I coaxed him up, with food, inching up the stairs. It took me 45 minutes.
Then, he turned into a total stalker. Of me. He stared and stared and stared. I lost 5 pounds in the first weekend that I had him because I could not eat while he was staring at me. “Dogs need exercise”, they tell you. So I ran and ran.
I should have publicized it as the new diet. “The Border Collie Diet”.
He has taught me many things. In the last nine years, I have taken many adventures because of him. I have touched sheep (a lot, and not just because they are yarn about to happen). I have learned that communicating with another species is a different kind of challenge — dogs are so….literal. I have learned about canine structure and behavior. Most of all, I have learned what true companionship is all about.
I don’t believe that dogs give you unconditional love….until you earn it. Once you earn it, though, then I think you become the sun, moon and goddess of their universe. Really, I don’t think I can do much wrong in Finn’s eyes at this point.
In fact, as I write this, all 50 pounds of Finn are lying on my feet. And snoring. Because he’s an old guy. He’s a very good boy.
I hope, with all my heart, that I get to write my day after my birthday story for several years more. Marianne, please pass the tissue.
Happy adopt-a-versary, Finn. Thank you for a great nine years!