This past Friday night we went to watch the movie, A Dog’s Purpose. I cried and O noticed, and she pointed it out to B, who admitted she cried, too. O was perplexed, why did we think the movie was sad? O didn’t like the movie and had spent the entire movie trying to figure out why the movie didn’t follow the book. The critics didn’t like it either. O read the book and was disappointed, I reminded her that the book is almost always better.
I enjoyed the movie, not because it was a wonderfully crafted story, but because it made me thankful for the unconditional love of our dog, Ivy.
The movie made me wonder what really is the purpose of many things. I think the purpose of dogs is to remind us to be better people; and some days I don’t measure up.
Ivy joined our family almost seven years ago, in April 2010. The day before Easter, how we got Ivy is a strange story in itself. In the time, she’s been with us, she’s done all the things a dog should do:
- She’s caught a bunny
- She’s caught a squirrel
- She’s been blasted by a skunk – more than once
- She’s run away – well, not really run away, more of gotten loose and taken off
- She’s destroyed every one of her stuffed animals
- And, she’s made a place in our hearts
- and, i am sure I am missing something.. O or W will remind me, or even B.
When we got Ivy, O and W both promised they’d feed her and pick up the poop. They promised they’d walk her and take care of her. They promised they’d brush her and take care of her. Sometimes they actually do those things, but most of the time I feed her in the morning and let her out when I get up in the morning.
This morning, I went downstairs and she stayed upstairs asleep. I was pouring my first cup of coffee when I heard her come down the stairs, clip, clop, clip. She came into the kitchen, then walked over the back door and looked at me, as if to say, ‘hurry up, I gotta go.’ I opened the backdoor and she pawed at the screen door and sat down. It’s her routine and I let her out. She walked across the deck to the first patch of ivy, which is how she got her name, and did her thing. Then she patrolled the yard for several minutes before she came to the back door, barked to let me know she was ready to come inside. Once inside, she checked her dish, then sat down beside the couch, placed her head on the seat cushion, as if to ask, ‘may, I please join you?’ Then she jumped up and lay beside me and went back to sleep.
In my lifetime, I have had a number of dogs:
- Yuck, (1965-66) my first. Yuck was a mutt, I think. We got her at the pound. On our way home from the pound that day, my mom asked me what my dad was going to say when he got home, I replied, ‘yuck,’ and that’s how she got her name. We had her until we went to Paris in ’66, she went to stay with my grandma in Pittsburgh. She ran away and was hit by a car.
- Tex (1967-69), was a lively Irish Setter. We got her when we moved to Sugar Land and had a bigger yard. She was a bird dog by birth and would get loose in the neighborhood. We always got her back, but when we moved to Venezuela we found a better home for her in the country where she could chase birds.
- Then there was Patch (1971-79). We got patch from our neighbors, the Regners. She had s small patch – the shape of domino on her hindquarter, hence the name. The Regners had two boxers – Lady and Tiger who had a litter of pups, we bought one, a female and she was ours until she passed away. We put up a fence to keep her, but she wasn’t a runner.
- After, Patch passed away, my brother Warren, found a mutt, Sandy (1980-81), and she joined us in early 1980. Sandy was lively and could climb the chain link fence and get away, she always came home. The first time she came home, we learned she was pregnant – with a mix of black lab puppies. I vividly remember coming home one evening and having her jump into the back seat of my car after I had opened the garage door while she was delivering, she leapt into my back seat where she delivered one of her puppies. Six months later, she had another litter of a mix of golden Cocker Spaniel when I was off at college in the Fall of ’80. Afterwards, we ‘fixed’ her and that was the end of her motherly ways, but she was still a runner and it was her undoing, of sorts. She passed away suddenly in July of ’81.
- Spook was our next dog (1980 – 1993). Spook was really mom’s dog. Spook was a male from Sandy’s last litter. He was a shy puppy and he kept mom company until he passed away suddenly. Mom had flown north to visit B and I. I was walking with her down the concourse and asked how Spook was doing and she told me he had gotten away and been hit by a car. It was mom’s last dog.
- Then there was Spoon (1983). I had Spoon for almost two months. She was a stray I befriended on campus when I was at summer school. I was living in a dorm and a dog was a no-no. But my roomie and I kept her anyway. I remember the RA (Resident Advisor) went in your room looking for her and she had hidden herself in the closet. She slept on my bed and I even took her to class with me that summer. But bringing her back in the fall was out of the question – the school’s mascot is a dog and I happened to live in the same dorm – and my mom would let me keep her, so I gave her up. I know someone picked her out and took her home.
- And then, there is Ivy (2010 – )… Ivy is my kids first, and only dog. O had a hamster before Ivy arrive, but that’s a story for another day, another time.
At, first B didn’t let Ivy sleep in our beds. She sheds and leaves short white hair all over where she lays. But, eventually Ivy wore B down and now she sleeps in our bed at my feet. Sometimes she’ll creep up to my hips, but she keeps me warm in the winter. She is almost always up with in the morning and she enjoys seeing O and I head off for school. I think she knows our schedule.
Ivy doesn’t like thunderstorms or fireworks, which is odd because she’s a Brittany Spaniel and the breed are hunting dogs, bird dogs. But, she has never been trained as a hunting dog because we aren’t hunters, so that explains her fear of loud noises, she’s easily spooked by loud noises.
When we are up North at the lake, she loves spending time in the lake ‘fishing.’ She sleeps on Grandma’s footstool and I think Grandma actually warmed up to her, too. Grandma always said, Ivy was a good dog. The footstool has sort of ‘caved in’ from Ivy’s weight, but it makes it cozier her to snuggle and stay warm in the front room and keep watch while we sleep.
Mostly, Ivy keeps us company and honest. She sleeps and has found the best places in the house to sleep – behind the couch, under the dining room table, on the deck when the sun is shining and it’s warm, or in the sunshine whenever it streams through the windows during the winter.
She’s a great companion and I was always feel welcome when I come home and she’s excited to see me.
I don’t know if Ivy has been present in my life before as the film, A Dog’s Purpose, suggests, but I do know I am better person, we’re all better people, because she’s a part of our family, our pack.
It’s early Sunday evening and the day is winding down and I am thankful. I am thankful for so much, I am thankful for my kids who remind me all sorts of things and inspire me. I am thankful for my wife, B, and I am thankful for the subtle reminders I get from time to time from people whose paths I cross. And I am thankful for our dog Ivy, because I believe is her purpose is to help me count the days. Making the Days Count with a dog laying at my feet reminding me to be a better person and to make the days count.
Do you know your dog’s purpose? Or your cat’s? Just wondering….