I’m participating in the #ThinkKit blogging challenge, so each day in December I’ll be responding to their prompt.
Today’s prompt: Document your year in photos. Did one photo encapsulate your year? Maybe it takes a gallery. And don’t forget to caption, describe, or or document what made an image so important. Let’s see those photos!
In one photo, that’s 2013 for me: a dog selfie.
In March, Christine and I adopted Marvin from the Indianapolis Humane Society. They told us that Marvin was a “shepherd mix,” but he’s really just a messed-up mutt who has enough traits of enough dogs that everyone has an opinion. Strangers have suggested he is a pointer, a pit bull (yes, he’s got some of that), a dalmatian (he is black-and-white-spotted, but no), a boxer, and more. Officially, since he’s a mix of so many things, he’s an All-American. And since he’s a very high-spirited mutt, we can call him an All-American (with vigor).
The “vigor” part manifests itself in destroyed toys, ripped blankets, teeth marks on my sweatshirts, a tear in my light fall jacket, urine stains in the apartment, and three small areas of missing carpet. Vigor means he runs, and barks, and pees, and poops, and jumps, and chews with intensity and fervor. He gets up early, runs and tugs and poops and pees and gnaws and whines and barks and cuddles and wiggles and frustrates and inspires.
Having an excitable dog has changed my life, mostly in odd ways:
I get up early on the weekends. Since college I enjoyed staying up late and sleeping as late as possible on weekends. Sometimes “late” was noon, and sometimes it was much later. But since Marvin, I’ve watched at least 12 ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries, probably 20 other documentaries, and 15 television series, because when you’re awake, with an up-and-down puppy, at 6:30 on a cold Saturday morning, Netflix is heaven.
I dislike litter. I never really appreciated what an annoyance litter in my neighborhood is prior to having a dog. Especially early on, Marvin would pick up and try to eat anything: leaves, branches, plastic bags, cups from fast food places up the street, animal feces, fried chicken, a dead squirrel. Yes, he picked up a dead squirrel with his teeth, and he licked me with that tongue later that afternoon.
I leave the house more. I’ve never been a hermit or anything, but it’s now entirely impossible to have a lazy day where I stay holed up all day. I have to leave, at least to walk him or let him out, and that has allowed me to actually see my neighborhood and have some real interactions on the street. People might not know me, but they know Marvin.
Marvin has brought the unexpected to my life. While Christine was in New York for work, I had the distinct pleasure of cleaning up for, and treating, a sick puppy. “Sick” understates it a bit, though, since he had explosive, uncontrollable diarrhea. This led me to waking up at 3:45 in the morning, smelling that terrible scent, and rushing downstairs to see the damage, and it was awful. (I have photos. You don’t want to see them.) The low point was crying while blasting “Walking in Memphis” from my phone as I cleaned up dog poop. LOW. But Marvin was fine. And most of the surprises from Marvin are good, not hauntingly terrible. Like the day he learned to jump on our bed. Times when he decides to build a nest behind my back and snuggle there.
I appreciate animals. I used to live in Gainesville, Florida, and I’d regularly pass the two veterinary hospitals at the University of Florida as I drove around town. I remember thinking that that seemed insane. Why two huge buildings dedicated to animals? As a kid, dogs always scared me. Seriously, they hated me and I did not like them. When house hunting with my parents as a 10-year-old, I saw a chinchilla in a cage and darted, terrified, out of the room so quickly that it became a family joke. Marvin has gradually led me to understand why people like and appreciate animals. They’re caring, unique, surprising, warm and special. I can’t say I love all dogs, but I do love my dog. And I get it.
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Since “selfie” is the word of the year, the dog selfie really does sum up 2013. Especially because Christine and I regularly communicate with selfies when we’re apart. One look at our text history shows way too many bad post-workout selfies along with lots of pictures of Marvin in various moods (cute Marvin, sad Marvin, happy Marvin, angry Marvin, curious Marvin). Those photos sum up my year. At least so far.