“And it is exceedingly short, his galloping life. Dogs die so soon. I have my stories of that grief, no doubt many of you do also. It is almost a failure of will, a failure of love, to let them grow old—or so it feels. We would do anything to keep them with us, and to keep them young. The one gift we cannot give.”
― Mary Oliver,
A dog’s life is way too short. I knew this going in and almost didn’t get him because of that fact. How can I deal with one loss by loving another that I will all too soon lose as well? I don’t know, perhaps there’s beauty in that.
A dog’s life it way too short, so we wasted no time jumping in. At 10 weeks old, Roo took his first camping trip to the desert and he discovered sand, cactus, redrock cliffs and so many different texture of rocks and sticks. He laid on his back in the sleeping bag and woke me early with lick attacks ensuring I’ll never miss a desert sunrise as long as we share a tent.
We spent the winter traipsing around the desert – hiking to ruins in Cedar Mesa, wandering through slot canyons in the Swell, and curling up in motels together when it was too cold for the tent in places like Mexican Hat. We spent Thanksgiving morning watching the sunrise at Deadhorse Point, me enjoying pumpkin pie and coffee and Roo with his dog biscuit shaped like a cornucopia chased by some sagebrush sticks.
Roo launched himself off of cliffs into the sand, played tug-o-war with every tree in his way, and fervently licked everyone he met. He never slept while riding in the car, rather his nose was pressed to the window never wanting to miss one ounce of scenery. He reminded me of myself as a child, choosing to never sleep for fear of missing out, a part of myself I have lost in recent years.
Spring came and we took to the trails around my home in Salt Lake City. Roo reliably gave me a little wake-up call just before dawn, again ensuring I didn’t miss another sunrise as long as he is beside me. We traveled to Oregon, went on climbing trips to Wyoming, epic roadtripped to Wisconsin via the Black Hills of South Dakota and friends in Minnesota, and explored the rugged mountain ranges of Colorado. So many adventures in such a short life thus far.
“I imagine there are people out there who got a dog when what they wanted was a baby, but I wonder if there aren’t other people who had a baby when all they really needed was a dog.”
― Ann Patchett,
I have always wanted me own dog. I had never named my future children, but I had plenty of names picked out for my future dogs. I grew up in the country with lots of wide-open space and I had promised myself that I would never get a dog until I had a lot of space. Turns out that was bogus, you make the time and you make the space.
Dog’s lives are way too short. You know that from the beginning and in knowing that it makes you a little more present in every moment. Recently I’ve noticed a few “Who rescued who?” stickers on cars and although I did not “rescue” Roo I strongly believe he rescued me. Kangaroo the Dog came into my life in a particularly challenging moment and he gave me not only the strength and will to carry on but encouraged me to do so boldly and courageously while making the time to stop and smell the flowers and well notice every little thing.
In recent months I’ve reestablished connection with the person that led me to Roo in the first place. It’s difficult learning to trust again, but had I not gone through everything up to this moment little Roo would not be in my life and for that it was all worth it. Plus seeing how much he loves my dog is allowing me to slowly love him again.
We all have so much to learn from pupsters! Roo greets each day with excitement and experiences everything with his whole little heart. Learning to forgive and love unconditionally just comes so naturally to little Roo and perhaps a bit of him is rubbing off on me – I find myself jumping for joy more often and am becoming more connected with what’s right in front of me rather than dwelling on where I have and haven’t been. If we could only treat others the way we treat our dogs and embrace that day with such energy, hmphhh something to strive for I guess.
One Zillion Photos of Roo’s First Year: