“I aspire to be the man my dog thinks I am”

My Pilates instructor dropped that massive nugget of wisdom before parting company earlier this week. Truer words have never been written.

I think back to the many moments in my life, and in the lives of my family and friends, where our dogs put us above everything, and a tear naturally runs down my face.

I was hanging out with an old, dear friend that I met over ten years ago, two out of the last three nights. He and his wife, another dear friend and both of whom live on the other side of the country in Brooklyn, had two labs – Roscoe & Walter. Three days ago, Roscoe passed away, too young to health issues.

My brother’s dog Lawrence (who’s my dog Taylor’s brother) a few weeks ago, had one of his back legs amputated, due to bone cancer. He’s undergoing chemo right now.

A few years ago, our family dog Foster was living with my sister in Philadelphia when he abruptly passed away. My dad was about to go into surgery later that week. We always said afterwards that Fozzy went to see the Big Man up in the sky to make the case to leave my dad alive & kicking in this world for a while longer. Foster was very convincing, and his (our) wish was granted.

When my dog Jack passed almost ten years ago, it broke me. I remember my brother and I commenting on his 14th birthday how young he looked. Two months later, he got sick all of a sudden and a short time thereafter, he passed. It took my brother bringing Foster up from my parents house to move in with the two of us and his dog Kalib to get me back on track.

All this brings me back to Taylor, and the quote above. I am everything to my boy; and he to me. He senses there is something going on; and feels that I am leaving for India soon. He lingers just a little bit longer before saying good night, good morning or goodbye. Though getting up there in four months, turning eight years, his youthful energy is boundless, passers by – while we are walking – often commenting on his puppy-like demeanor. His way of saying hello is bull-rushing me boxing me with his paws, then head-butting my legs, ending with heavily “resting” his noggin’ on my leg, burrowing as deep as he can, the more pressure, the more love he’s giving me. To this day, when the phone rings, he gets excited cos he thinks my brother (his original dad) will be stopping by, like he often did when we lived in Chicago. He’s a handful, the proverbial ‘bull in a china shop’, but he’s got a heart full of love worth infinitely more than even a heart of gold.

For a guy like me that values right from wrong as much as I do, and always trying to do the right thing, being there as much as I can for my family and my friends and my colleagues at the office, and I have my moments of being successful as well as moments of failure, living up to Taylor’s standards (and Foster & Kalib before him, and Jack before them – not to mention my brothers’ other dogs Lawrence and Mason) has been the gold standard, cos “I do”. I do “aspire to be the man my dog thinks that I am.

PS. I highly recommend the book “The Art of Racing in the Rain”. It’s one of the two best books I’ve read in the last five years. “A Dog’s Purpose” is another really good book.

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