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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Want vs. Need

You don't always get the dog you want.  You get the dog you need."
~Cesar Milan
I was thinking about this yesterday as I spent most of the day on the couch with a spinning head. It's getting better, I promise. But my thoughts went to the big galumph of a dog lying across my lap, looking longingly into my soul with those big brown eyes. He's concerned.

Our routine has been disrupted this week, and if you know anything about herders, you know they live for routine. When his routine is off-kilter, his world spins backward. Spins. No pun intended. Back to that Milan quote...Kili has not been the overly exuberant love bug. He's not a cuddler. He doesn't "warm up" to people. He's stubborn and prickly and barky and a downright pain in the ass, and the hand, and the wardrobe.  Just ask The Grommet. Kili has left his teeth marks in more than a few of Bry's favorite items of clothing. Along with that, I'm sure there have been many instances where Charlie had the words; "It's me or the dog." swirling around on his tongue. But the fact is, my husband knew this dog came into our lives in a weird way, at a terrible time, that was utterly perfect for...me.

We've never really chosen our family dogs. They came to us. Someone was getting rid of, or someone had to let go, or someone needed to find a home for. Those kinds of situations. Ditto, Shanahan, and Ellie; the dogs that were a part of our family when the kids were growing up were picked FOR us. We had a say in the form of "Yea" or "Nay". But the "Nay" never passed our lips. Sometimes, we had no say. Ditto just appeared. Shanahan was a gift, and Ellie...well, we went to the shelter to find a dog, picked one, was told to come back after the dog was neutered, only to find that they had given "our" dog to someone else. Ellie was part of the same pack, so she came home with us. Of all of our dog stories, that one was serendipitous. She was perfect in every way. There will never be another sweet girl like Ellie. And now there is Kili.  Painful, difficult, gorgeous Kili.

Oh, he is difficult. Everyone who knows us know this. They've watched us go through the motions, the Emotions, the tears, the worry, and on and on these last four years. Nothing is easy.  There is not one easy thing about this boy.  He is cantankerous, he doesn't "need" your affection, he operates as if you are there at his bidding, he definitely fancies himself king of all he surveys.  Genuflect, peasant! Yet, as I sit here, with Kili lying under my desk, on top of my feet, none of that matters. This is MY dog. He is MINE. I am the center of his universe. Any and every twitch of one of my muscles triggers a head pop or a perked ear. I am the rising of his moon and the setting of his sun. He was definitely NOT the dog Charlie and I wanted. But he is most certainly the dog that I needed.   
Throughout this vertigo episode, he has been at my heel, across my lap, at my head as I sleep (with his paw on my forehead).  This isn't new, of course.  He always knows when I'm not myself.  I just can't help but wonder if during those very first days with us, those days when I washed the mats of dried poop and hairballs from his coat, and put warm compresses on his broken tail, and lay next to him on the dining room floor cooing to him that everything was going to be okay.  I can't help but wonder if this is his "return".  You don't always get the dog you want, but you always get the dog you need.  Our need was apparently mutual.  I needed to be needed again with my babies all grown.  He needed a mommy at a time when he was too young to be taken away from his, and he most certainly needed humans who knew how challenging this breed can be.  Especially if you don't have a sheep station. 
My head may be in a temporary spin cycle right now.  But right now, under my desk, and always next to my heart, is this weird, crazy, wonderful heart thief whose entire existence is to spin around me.  When you think about it, who doesn't need someone like that in their life?