The Gift

It was August 2001, and she held this 3.5lb, brindle painted, ball of fur, on her lap. We had just picked up our new puppy. My wife and I, of all of 16 months new ourselves, decided that in place of children, we had time to love of a dog. And her new name was Bailey.

We found Bailey, on our first visit to California Pets in Orange County, CA, not too far from home. We made the initial calls and inquiries, in search of Shih Tzu puppies. You know my brother and his wife have two of these lap dogs, and my wife, while not claiming to be a big animal lover herself, loved those two. And so we agreed, a Shih Tzu pup would be the call. As luck would have it, Cal Pets had three pups.

I’m not sure if you have ever been to a “pet/breeder” store, but it’s not the most pleasurable of an outing. The poor animals look so sad in their cages. You want to rescue all of them. The big, sad eyes and yelps of attention fill the sights and sounds of the store. It killed me, and still does.

The first one out of the cage, and let free in the “play pin”, was a 3 month old female. She was white, brown, caramel, and black…all mixed. With her big hair, and “chase the ball” playfulness, we had seen enough. This was the dog. We proceeded to fill our shopping cart with a crate, a small dog bed, puppy pads, food, treats and the list goes on.

To be truthful, I, the conservative one, began buyer’s remorse prior to sliding the debit card through the pos (point of sales) unit. We hadn’t paid yet, and I was already asking “do we really want to do this?” An animal takes responsibility. My wife, knowing her for 20 years, was not one for being “pinned down”. “What will we do with it when we want travel?” “It’s going to tear up our model home”. As determined as my PhD wife was, she knew this was the right decision, and convinced me that all would be Ok. She furthered her support of the purchase by using the old “the dog would be great companionship for you” when she (wife) traveled for work.

As life would have it, six months later, my wife had found that 2 years of marriage was more than she could do. She, in fact, made the regrettable decision to carry on with alternative relationships, outside of our marriage, before and after the pup came into our lives. I guess, as I stand now, there was a bit of a calculated agenda within the decision to purchase of the dog. Do you remember the “companion” part? I do believe that was part of it, companionship, but I also believe there was a “compassion” element, supplying me a gift of a friend. Maybe she knew what was to come? Maybe it eased her into making the break, knowing I would not be alone. And from that nightmare day in February, Bailey and I started our lives together.

Bailey was in my arms, all the while packing my bags to leave my home. She stayed with me, and comforted me, while my brother and fiancé tried to help heal deep wounds. Like many of us divorcees, there have been good days and bad. As time continues on, most all the bad days are gone now. Bailey’s now 7 years old. She’s a bit rounder, but so am I. That little dog, with those big eyes, still looks up at me with anticipation, loyalty, and I’d like to think love. It’s a mutual appreciation.

Here’s the thing. The realization I have come to. It has occurred to me that I have received something pretty special. I received a gift from someone I have not spoken to in over 7 years and, in fact, really don’t care to. But…If it were not for my x-wife, there would not have been a Bailey and me. And so I recognize the compassion, after all the pain of that one has caused. She gave me a gift that I will always have. Having Bailey in my life has taught me love again, and it also reassured me that love is a good thing. I am a better person because of a gift of a little, unconditional friend.

It’s taken 7 years, but thank you X.

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