Monday, May 24, 2010

Buddha Jerry was right

The way I see it, the world is divided into two kinds of people:  those who love dogs, and the crazies.  My husband falls into the second category (No disrespect, Honey, but really?  Do I lie?).  People either love those sweet, loyal, lovable, cuddly, entertaining companions, or they don't, the latter of which I regard to be, quite possibly, a considerable character flaw. 

When Chris and I first met, I felt like there were some very important things he needed to know about me.  Number One, I love Jesus.  Number Two, I love my family.  Number Three, I am totally devoted to, I mean I absolutely adore, we're talking I would do anything for... Cooper.  My dog.

Chris was really happy about the God and family revelations.

He was not so jazzed about my allegiance to the dog. 

Cooper, you have to understand, is no average dog.  He is a massive, beautiful, big-hearted, easygoing, demonstrative, enormous, and very (at times inappropriately, I admit) affectionate yellow lab.  By demonstrative and affectionate, I mean he really likes to show you how much he cares.  By massive and enormous, I mean at his peak weight, he was 120 pounds.  Huge.  And loving.  And huge. 

For years, my parents called Cooper my guardian angel.  He protected me on my long runs early in the morning.  He scared away would-be intruders with a mere growl from his considerable throat.  He made me laugh.  He laid his abundant head in my lap while I cried.  He joyfully welcomed me home at the end of a long day by charging around the perimeter of my house, again and again.  And honestly, he gave me a reason to get out of bed on those days when I'd rather pull the covers over my head and retreat from the world. 

As perfect as Chris was when we met (and still is!  Awww...), he was unable to hide his distaste for all things canine, causing me countless hours of heartbreaking indecision.  (He couldn't be The One if he didn't love my dog, right?  Cooper and I , we're a package deal!  I've been in a longer relationship with the dog than the boy.  A soul mate would love my dog!)  I weighed out Risk versus Reward in both cases, and some days, Man won.  Other days, Dog won.  You can see my conundrum.  My thoughts, oh, how they roiled.  Roiled. 

Now, I will freely admit, the line between master and dog became a little blurred for me sometimes. Did I let him sleep on my bed?  Yes.  Yes, I did.  Did I make him wear bunny ears and pose for Easter pictures with a basket?  Umm, I think so.  Did I let him curl up on the couch with me?  Yeah, that too.  Did I have birthday parties for him every year and make him wear hats and invite the neighborhood dog friends?  Possibly.  Did I make him dress up for Halloween to answer the door?  I might have, once or twice.  Did I put Ranch dressing on his dogfood so it would taste better?  I can neither confirm nor deny.  (Wouldn't I make a good politician?).  It is for these reasons that I am certain Cooper was T-H-R-I-L-L-E-D when Aria and Caroline came along, to whom I could finally redirect my predilection for costumes and holiday attire.

But, for Chris, I think the worst offense was a case of existential badminton.  It took place on a glowing, 107-degree summer day when he was over at my place graciously mowing my lawn while I was at work.  Wiping sweat from his brow, he looked longingly into my air-conditioned home, hoping for some relief by proxy.  Instead, there was Cooper, lying on the couch in the cool living room, watching Chris push the mower back and forth in the sweltering sun, with the unruffled detachment of one watching a tennis match on TV, vascillating that big head, back and forth, back and forth, as he watched.  Yawn.  Watch.  Yawn.  Watch.

Well, that did it!  Chris had had it.  No more of that durn dog.  With all that yawning and watching, Cooper had inadvertently drawn a proverbial line in the sand.  Somebody was going to go.  And now, my husband-to-be was going to issue the most terrible of all ultimatums:   Him or The Dog. 

Unbeknownst to either of us at the time, both Chris' parents and my own parents had decided to take our plight to upper management. 

Yep, you got it.  We made the Prayer Chain. 

From devout souls across the country, God was hearing appeals on behalf of the weak, the forlorn, the sick, the lost, and the... dog?

By the time the dog/man acrimony had reached this point, Chris and I were engaged, and had graduated to our requisite premarital counseling.  I remember meeting with Martha Thorson, the wonderful pastor who married us, and she asked us, "So what do you think is the biggest problem in your relationship?"  Without hesitation, we both cry out, "The dog!"  We then proceeded to each fervently share with her our side of the story.  She listened without judgment, studied us for a moment - probably trying to guage whether or not this was some type of a bizarre preacher practical joke - and then said calmly, "Sarah.  Chris.  If the dog is the worst problem you have with each other, you two are going to be just fine".

From your lips to God's ears, Martha.

Fortunately for me, the Prayer Chain actually worked.  I never had to choose between the love of my life and Chris.  (Kidding!)  I never had to choose between man or dog.  We did, however, have to make a few changes at our house.  Chris agreed to tolerate Cooper, so long as I didn't rub his nose in it.  (Can you blame me?  The dog metaphors are just too easy.)  That meant no more dog sleeping on the furniture, much more time for Cooper spent outside, and no more ranch dressing (sorry buddy, I tried).  Gradually, I began to notice a more congenial relationship developing between husband and dog.  In fact, Chris was even beginning to like him!  Which is a good thing, because we've since adopted Cooper's understudy, Lexi. 

To this day, people will come up to me occasionally in the halls of the church and ask me how Cooper is.  People who prayed for our marriage to survive the dog.  I'm telling y'all, the Prayer Chain works.  Never doubt the power of the Prayer Chain.  Never.  The two main men in my life, Cooper and Chris, can both attest to it.

Cooper is now twelve. Which is 84 in dog years. Age has dulled his vigorous doggie jubilance a bit. We can't go on long runs like we used to. He wouldn't know a would-be intruder if it yanked on his tail. Yes, he's mostly deaf by now. He couldn't jump up onto the furniture these days to save his own life. And, he did lose some weight once I removed the ranch dressing from his diet. But he still has the same big, beautiful, loyal heart I've adored since the first moment I met him. And he is still my guardian angel.

A very wise man - (a man who would probably be my Buddha if I believed in Buddhas, which I do not) - Jerry Seinfeld,  once said, if there was life on other planets, and they studied the culture of our earth to learn about humans, this is what they would discover:  dogs rule our planet.  They stay home and sleep 23 hours a day while we go to work to pay their bills.  We provide their meals, their water, their housing.  They get to potty wherever they want.  And they get to lead us around on leashes three (or more, like in Winnie's case) times a day. 

I agree with you, Buddha Jerry, dogs rule.

1 comment:

  1. BTW, I stole Texas Cooper's photo for my post "Do Dogs Cause Marital Strife" on my dog blog giving a link to your blog.