An Ode To My Dog
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An Ode To My Dog
Lyddie Dailey

I can hardly remember my world before Willoughby. A huge part of the landscape of my childhood and a true member of my family, almost all the highlights and everyday moments of my youth include this little black cockapoo. She is invited on almost every vacation, family outing, and birthday party (helping herself to some chocolate birthday cake one year and landing in the doggie ER). She was a faithful youth soccer fan and continues to enjoy family movie nights.

In my house, our dog is treated much like any other family member. She sleeps in a human bed, eats a little more human food than she probably should, and gets spoiled like any other grandkid at my grandparent's house when (God forbid) we are unable to find a pet-friendly hotel. We adore her and we are not alone.

Willoughby is a celebrity of sorts in our neighborhood. She often sits her post on our front porch watching the neighborhood go by. Occasionally she ventures to the sidewalk to greet a baby in a stroller or the St. Bernards from around the corner, but usually sits so still she is mistaken for a garden statue. To the throngs of young children who filter through my mom’s kindergarten classroom to read aloud to her on “Willoughby Wednesdays,” she is beloved. She has helped many timid children overcome their fear of dogs and is the gold standard for anyone in the market for a new pup. One close friend shared, “We’d like to get ourselves a dog, but my dad says Willoughby is already taken.”

Perhaps one of the most difficult adjustments in college is living without her. When I miss my Mom, I can pick up the phone and hear her voice or send a quick text. But Willoughby is not so great with an iPhone. Nothing can connect me from a distance to the best part of my dog—the holding, the petting, the cuddling, the unconditional love.

Last week, Willoughby celebrated her 12th birthday. When Mom sent me a picture of her wearing the “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!” tank top, I felt a tug at my heart. It’s hard not to pause for a moment when I do the “dog year” calculation. I’m painfully aware of a little more gray around her ears, the medication she now takes for a heart condition, and the new ramp that helps her climb onto my parents’ bed. My energetic, acrobatic, friendly, and incredibly lovable Willoughby is changing. She is aging as gracefully as I would have imagined and I expect her to still be part of much more of my story. But each time she comes for a visit or I have to say goodbye to her, I hug her a little tighter and rub her belly a little longer.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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