When you adopt a dog, they should throw in a disclaimer. They should say, “I know right now you think you’re just adopting a dog, but what you’re really doing is adopting a lifestyle. Your everyday activities will be specifically geared toward the well-being of this animal. And you will fall in love with her. You will fall in love with this strange, furry creature that sleeps at the end of your bed, cuddles with you when you’re sad, and shits in the house just to show you who’s boss. You will spend many, many years falling in love with her, and marveling at the undying adoration she shows you. That’s what dogs are like. That’s what dogs do. They’ll see you at your worst—when you’re sobbing unattractively at the end of Titanic on a Saturday night, alone and pajama-clad and eating all the ice cream, and when you stub your toe and swear indefinitely and when you run out of toilet paper and have to waddle to the next bathroom and when you are singing into a hairbrush because hey, no one’s home except you and the dog. They’ll see these moments, all these private moments, and they’ll still stare at you with those big brown eyes like you’re the goddamn queen of the world. All they’ll ask for is a treat and maybe a little scratch behind the ears. That’s it. That’s all. They’ll be equal parts lovable scoundrel and blatant asshole, but they’ll love you like no one else for nothing in return. They’ll love you like it’s their job. They’ll do what you do and they’ll go where you go.
“And in ten, maybe even fifteen years, it’s going to be hell. Because we all have a finite number of years on this earth, but dogs—for reasons beyond all comprehension—have even less. All those antisocial Saturday night movie cry-a-thons and battles for bed space and half-eaten sandwiches that get mysteriously swiped off the kitchen table will come to an end. You’ll know when the time has come, because she’ll tell you. Not in so many words—she’ll never really master that—but she’ll tell you in the way her ears droop, her tail wags less, her fur goes gray. And you’ll take that one last fateful trip to the vet’s office together, because she goes where you go.
“I hope you know what you’re getting into, because thirteen years from now, it’s going to hurt like hell.”
That’s what they should tell you. Yesterday we had to put Blackie to sleep. She was old and it was time, but damn, we loved that dog.