Our next dog was named Buttons. I remember holding her in my cupped hands when we still lived in Tennessee, which means she was really small when we got her. After Buttons, we went a while without a dog until we got Roxy, whom I blame in some part for Sarah not liking dogs very much. She (Roxy, not Sarah) was a rambunctious German Shepherd who never . . . quite . . . had it all together. She went away to someone with a big yard because she shredded the wood molding in a bathroom in our house and she knocked Sarah over frequently. In Roxy's defense, it was pretty easy to knock Sarah over back then--she was still hammering out the whole center-of-gravity concept. After Roxy was Spooky: the most reserved, least animated dog the world ever knew. But she would burrow under your back on the couch and snuggle for naps on the sofa.
I was thinking about them because I've been wondering what kinds of memories Tobin will have of Hannah. When I was trying to remember my dogs growing up, one thing that struck me was how short dogs' lifespans are and that losing a dog can be really difficult emotionally for a child. Allison and I talked recently about how that can be a good way to teach important lessons about life and what's really important in life. Allison and I are dog people. Even though some people have made fun of us for the way we treat her, Hannah was (and is) our first baby around the house. It will be really hard for me (hopefully a long time from now) when she dies, but I realize that I especially dread it for Tobin. The balance of that dread is the excitement I have for when he can recognize her and call her name and take her on walks and play with her and love her. She's ready for the play part now, and he's catching up quickly.
I guess the relationship between people and dogs doesn't make any logical sense. We have a four-legged animal living in our house whom we feed without asking any work from in return. She barks at our friends and family, and requires extra time and money from us that we might use elsewhere. But the relationship isn't a logical one. And really, of the things that I count most important in my life, very few would fit into Spock's pragmatic epistemology. Our relationship with Hannah is a snuggly, playful one defined by unconditional love and timely kisses. When my grandfather was ill last winter, I remember one night when I just sat on the couch and cried. Hannah, who normally sits on the other couch, jumped into my lap and licked the tears off my face until I couldn't help but smile and laugh. She didn't make the hurt go away, but I feel like she let me know in the only way she could that she wanted to help. I hope Tobin has similar experiences with his "big sister." If what I've observed so far is a true indication, I think theirs is the beginning of a wonderful friendship.