Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

Skittles turns eight years old today.  Well, pretty close at least, since her little shelter puppy self had an estimated birthdate.  I told my class today that it was my dog’s birthday, and they asked how old she is.  When I answered, I found it a strange thought that my dog is almost as old as they are.  Where did that time go?” I thought.

When you don’t have children, it sometimes seems like time stands still.  People (strangers) always comment to Brent and me, “you’re still young” and we laugh, wondering at what age you are no longer a “young couple” just because you don’t have kids.  We like to tell ourselves that we, as adults, don’t change much from year to year, because compared to children, we don’t.  Dogs are pretty much on an even keel as well there for the middle years.  I’ve taken at least a thousand photos of my precious pup in the past eight years, but I couldn’t eyeball a single one of them and tell you if it was from last month or five years ago. 

Sometimes I don’t think about how long we’ve had Skittles because she has always looked the same.  Just like sometimes, I don’t think about how I’ve changed because (short of a few extra pounds) I look the same as I did eight years ago.  But truth be told, I have changed.  Eight years ago, I was still on track for the “perfect” life plan I’d had planned since I was about twelve: get married right out of college and get a dog a year later to prepare for the children we’d start having a couple of years after that.  Two out of three ain’t bad, right?  Funny how we think we’re in control of our own lives.

Nowadays, I realize it’s a lot more about how your life looks on the inside than how it looks on the outside.  It isn’t so much about keeping score and checking off boxes on life’s to-do list, but instead about growing as a person and in your relationships with whomever God HAS placed in your life.  Two out of three certainly hasn’t been so bad for me, especially since I lucked up tremendously on those first two.  In fact, my marriage is most definitely a gift from God rather than a stroke of good luck, and I’d even venture to say picking this particular puppy from the animal shelter website eight years back was more than just dumb luck. 

Skittles didn’t start out as the perfect puppy (though she was perfectly cute), but does the perfect puppy even exist?  Eventually, her constant chewing turned into nuzzles and kisses, her wild jaunts through the house slowed to a playful trot, and her curious, questioning eyes softened to reflect trust and love.   She is smart, loyal, gentle, and at least to Brent and me, even funny.   We get asked all the time what kind of dog she is; she’s one-of-a-kind since we have no idea.  But to us, she’s perfect. 

She gives me a reason to smile on the darkest days and she makes me feel needed in those moments when I feel useless.  She shows me unconditional love every single day.  And she reminds me that deep down, this is all that any of us want: companionship.  I don’t know if we’ll have Skittles for eight more months or eight more years (I’m hoping for the latter), but I do know one thing:  I’m grateful for the way she’s loved me through the ups and downs of these first eight. 

Happy Birthday, Skittles!

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