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How My Dog Saved My Life & Found My Husband – Part 1

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This weekend, I celebrated seventeen years with my husband, the sanest man on the planet. Some years have been hard years, but all of them have been good years. Houses, children, occasional vacations, and lots of mutual support. But, as Antonio Banderas says in one of my favorite movies, The 13th Warrior, “Things have not always been thus. . . .”

I lost my first husband 21 years ago to mental illness. A terrible limbo where everything was over, and nothing was over, and I was left to find what resolution I could on my own in the passage of time. This is the conversation I had with myself every morning for months at each waking. . . .

Me: “He’s gone.”

Time isn’t the only thing that warps in periods of extreme grief. Air, itself, thickens to the consistency of jello, and pain resonates through every fiber of creation. I struggled to breathe.

Myself: “Life is a lot of trouble. It’s not like there’s anyone left who’d miss you.”

Me: “Yes, but I didn’t survive cancer to off myself now.”

Myself: “Sounds like you’re chasing your money, and that’s never wise.”

Me: “True. So it’s an even split. . . . But who would feed the dog?”

 How My Dog Saved My Life & Found My Husband   Part 1

Bear 1993

That thought always tipped the scales, and since I had to get up to feed Bear, I went through the motions of living one more day. Eventually, the day came when it wasn’t the first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes, and, eventually, I once more had reason to get out of bed. Besides Bear, that is.

Bear was a chocolate lab/Australian shepherd cross who wouldn’t let another human within five feet of me unless she thoroughly vetted them through long exposure. The reason it had to be me who fed the dog. She was pretty picky about who she let into her pack, and most never made the cut. They would try to pet her against my advice, only to receive warning growls, and even snaps. They would try to buy her with steak, too. That was always fun to watch. She would take it and snarl twice as much, offended that they treated her like some cheap, two-bit lovehound. She was like a Fairytale Questing Beast that determined the pure of heart who could seek the chalice, and, being rather anti-social at that point, myself, I liked her that way.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

Twitter @PiperBayard
Read more about this author -  BayardandHolmes.com

 

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