Mama D

Have you read Marley & Me? I've been thinking about that book a lot today. It's a classic story of a man and his dog. I love Marley because he is a less than perfect dog and his owner has a love/hate relationship that over time just becomes love.

Our pets are our family for better or worse. Dingo is our dog. Like most of our pets, we inherited her. She was born somewhere in New Mexico and roamed the land as a pup before being adopted by my brother-in-law. When he moved to Boston, she moved in with us.

I was incredibly reluctant to take her. Alright, I was enraged. The in-laws all tricked me into taking her by telling me they were going to put her down if we didn't let her live with us. It turns out she had a willing foster parent in New Mexico but they shipped her to us anyway.

I'll never forget our first day with her. I wanted to hate her just because she was a burden I did not want. That first night, I arrived home from work and it was raining. She was in the dog cage, huddling and waiting by the door. I ran right to her, opened the door and knelt down to embrace her. Her big brown eyes and wiggling body were hard not to like.

Those first few weeks weren't the easiest. I learned that Dingo likes to chase anything that moves and I should be careful not to let the leash wrap around my legs as she lurches forward. I learned that Dingo likes to eat and roll in dead stuff. I learned that Dingo has horribly bad gas.

I also learned that Mama Dingo is a wonderful surrogate mother who cared for each of the kittens as though they were her own. She is also my guardian and often, my companion. When I was pregnant, Dingo became incredibly defensive and protective of me. She is the same way with Caroline. Caroline, who she lets roll over her, ride her, squeeze her. They share food. They run around the yard and curl up in front of the stove together. When we walk into the mud room, Caroline pushes her face up against the door's window and yells excitedly for her "D! D! DD!"

Ten wood chucks. A squirrel and chick. Almost a rooster. She's a hunter and a killer. She brings her trophies to the front lawn, proudly displaying her kill. She loves to go for car rides and pushes her way out the door when we try to leave her behind. Her legs move wildly in her sleep, like she is chasing an animal in some beautiful, dream field.

Last night DD did not run to the door when we opened it. She didn't rush to eat her food or push Caroline out of the way to get to the door to pee. She just looked at me, her big eyes sad and her body shaking. We took her to the vet first thing this morning to learn the scary and sad news that Dingo probably has lymphoma cancer and 2-4 months to live.

Tonight Andy and Caroline took her for a long walk up the hills behind our house. I'm sure Caroline tried her best to keep up with Dingo who ran around her in circles. My best friend by accident, Dingo has been a steadfast companion and true member of our family. She's had a good life and she's given us so much love.


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