A lot of times (most times), when someone says they are in search of a companion, they mean another person. Perhaps they are searching for love or a lost family member or even just a friend, someone that will listen to them and provide a support system. For me, finding a companion meant finding a dog.
Growing up an only child, it always felt like I was set apart from everyone. I wasn’t lonely or anti-social by any means, and most weekends were filled with adventures with friends, or relaxing by the pool or doing some sort of school activity. But no matter how busy I got, I always felt this sort of loneliness in the back of my mind, which while it may sound a touch dramatic (and perhaps it is) has nagged at me from a tender age.
Growing up, we had always had a family dog, but I had never picked out the dog (both dogs had been around before I was born and the other had always preferred my mother to me), or maybe the better statement is that a dog never picked me. I loved both of these dogs endlessly and I enjoyed their soulful eyes, their trusting looks and playful barks. Regardless, every year for Christmas or for a birthday, I would ask for a dog. And every birthday or Christmas morning, I would awaken to no dog (a hamster once, in third grade, but as you might guess, a hamster isn’t quite the same as a dog).
Finally, my sophomore year of high school, my father made me a deal. “If you hit a home run, during a game, you can get a dog.” And while this might seem an easy feat for some, it was incredibly difficult. Hitting a home run is no easy accomplishment--especially when you are placed in the clean-up spot, and constantly pitched around or walked, getting a ball that you can rocket over the fence is nearly impossible. But, I decided to work towards it. Long hours spent in the cages, led to an improved batting average, but still, no home run and no dog.
During my junior year, something magical happened. It was the worst game of my career to date. My coach was furious with me. I was furious with myself. We were down 5-1, bases loaded with two outs, and I was up to bat. I was given an ultimatum as I was walking up to bat. Either I hit, and hit well, or I was out of the game. I remember being so angry. Really, really angry. Like the kind of angry where the pressure builds behind your nose and makes your eyes water with frustration. But I decided that I would do my best and deal with everything else as it came.
I get up to bat, breathing deeply. The first ball is pitched. I swing. I miss. My coach flings his hands in frustration and turns away, a shake of the head. The pressure builds again, just briefly, before I have to swing. And then--it happens. The ball comes and I just let my bat fly. And then, crack! I don’t look. I don’t do anything but run. And then, the stands behind me erupt. Home run! But not just any home run, a grand slam. Bases cleared, and we now are tied.
But in my head, all I was thinking, all I could think, was I get to have a companion. A new friend, who I could love and cherish, to take on a new life journey together. I was ecstatic. Everyone was happy. I was happy. We went on to win the game, with another triple and a double moving under my belt for the remainder of my times up at bat. And I was really, really happy.
Finding my companion was easy, though. I knew I would know when I met him. And I met him the following Saturday. A big, lovable, eighty-pound Mastiff-Pitbull mix named Moose who had been saved from a high-kill shelter some months before. As soon as I met him, I broke into tears, his big, pink tongue lapping up on my face as he jumped and played all over me. A dog named Moose (who acted more like a small bear than dog) came into my life and has made me happy ever since. And I cannot imagine my life without my lovable bear, who snores when he sleeps, and chatters at the neighbors outside, or the dog who sleeps in the middle of your bed, rolling over and sitting (or trying to sit) to get a treat. The dog who loves cheese almost as much as he loves me (almost, not quite) and the dog who has made my life, and ultimately me, the best it could ever be.