A little over a year ago, I had the opportunity to take a kitten with me to my new apartment in Huntsville. I didn’t, because of my apartments outrageous pet prices. But when I made my decision to bring Raider to live with me, money was the last thing on my mind. Sure, I worried about being able to support him, but suddenly my life was no longer my own. Everything was about him and his well being. This is why I am offended when others try to talk like they know my dog. So, I’m going to give a little “Raider 101” so that everyone will keep their mouths shut.
Raider is my child. I love him with every fiber of my being. He doesn’t understand much about the world and life, but that’s ok. I do. He didn’t grow up in a social setting, learning dog manners and what not. This means he’s very much like a giant baby, and he will be until the end. But he doesn’t need to be more than that. Just because he doesn’t have those manners hardwired into his brain does not mean he’s a burden to me. He will never be a burden on my life. We’ve only spent a few months together, but the bond that we’ve forged since then is enough to keep him at my side, listening to my commands as best he can. He is nothing if not loyal. Raider gives my life purpose. I enjoy caring for him. His needs get me out of bed in the morning, when nothing else will. His undying affection keeps me going on the hardest of days. “Burden”, “Just a pet”….those are insults to both me and my Raider.
Raider is 12. By the new research calculations, (See embedded link for details) he is 69 years old. Raider is not a puppy. He does not need as much exercise as puppies do. He does not get around like he used to. The apartment setting is not bad for him. He is not bored in here. He does not even want to go outside much. Trust me, he’s my dog. When Jared and I discussed all of the details involved with moving him, this was a very important one. I was worried just like you are. But he’s old! How many grandparents do you know can run around for miles? How many NEED to run for miles? Back in my childhood home, he had a whole backyard to run around in, and do you know what he would rather do? Sit in front of the back door and watch us go about our lives. His humans are all he’s concerned about. His years of running around, digging holes, eating the house, chasing passersby down the fence line are over. Done. Gone. Consider him retired.
One thing Raider does like? Cuddles. The couch. The chair. The bed. The carpet under the bed.The carpet in the closet, right next to where his humans are getting ready for the day, but not too close so they can lock him in and give him a bath. The wood floor. The wood floor behind his humans so they’ll turn around and give him pets. (or else they’ll fall. His master plan.) Tearing the fuzzies off tennis balls while he lounges in all of these places. Running after the chewed tennis ball for all of 1 time, because he gets too tired to continue. (I kid you not. He’s exhausted.) Other dogs, but only to sniff, and occasionally play fight with, until he’s bored and tired. Again. Slowly running after said dogs, because he can’t keep up. Sniffing the grass, the dirt, the wall, the pole, the tree, the random poop on the grass, etc. The most important thing Raider likes? His humans. He loves us. He trusts us. I won’t break that trust.
The task I’ve given myself is not so easy. It’s a handful. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I find myself reaching down to pet him while he’s simply walking up the stairs, because his fur is just so soft. I take pictures of him until my phone is full, then I have to choose my favorites. (An impossible matter.) I let him on the furniture, even though he leaves hair EVERYWHERE, because he just looks so darn adorable up there that I can’t say no. I pull him onto my lap and cover him with kisses and whisper my love in his ear. I tell him I love him at least 10 times a day, because I do. We both do. 12 years of his life went by without my affection, when that’s all he ever wanted. I don’t know how much time he has left, but I will work damn hard to make every SECOND the best one yet. I will give him all of my time, my money, even my food (whatever is healthy enough for him, that is) to keep that promise. I am a damn good mother for the amount of time I’ve had to be one. Sometimes we have to deal with the public’s opinion and let it slide, but this time I won’t. Raider is my child. His well being comes first, even if that means missing a family event or using my gas money on him. He is not just a pet.
So please, if you have an opinion about the matter, keep it to yourself and leave me and my quirky, adorable, loving dog alone. We’ve got things covered quite nicely.