Two of the most significant changes in my life came in the second half of 2009. On July 14, I met my girlfriend Amanda on the steps of the Boston Public Library. As she turned the corner and came into view my heart skipped a beat, she was beautiful, I knew then and there that she was going to be the one I …….Well, before I get off track I think we’ll save that for another time, another blog or maybe someday ...
another event. =-P
On December 12, the second most significant change of my life came to be. I became responsible for another life….. no, we didn’t have a baby. Amanda and I decided to adopt a three month old Jack Russell Terrier who soon came to be named Miley (you can probably guess who picked the name.) It became a pretty common trend in Boston’s South End when I would take her for a walk for people to swoon over the cute little puppy with the pink leash and then ask me my favorite question in the world: “What’s her name?….Oh…… You mean like Miley Cyrus?” Yes, exactly like Miley Cyrus.
Jack Russell Terrier’s are incredibly smart, affectionate, persistent, energetic and also unfortunately happen to be the number one most returned dog breed. As a breed they generally need a lot of exercise to satisfy them, otherwise all of those traits I listed above can turn a good dog into a dog filled with mischief and mayhem. As the old saying goes “There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.” I knew this ahead of time through reading and Amanda and I were ready to make every sacrifice there was to raise a good dog and make her a happy member of our family. As a 27 year old socialite in downtown Boston, let me tell you, boy did the sacrifices come! Restaurants, Bars, Parties, Sporting Events, Movies, all seemed to somewhat disappear right out the window for a while. But for every sacrifice made a positive trait came in return. Waking up early to take the dog out became habitual and I started making it into work an hour early instead of late. Instead of going out to dinner, I became the head chef of my own kitchen and drastically improved my cooking skills. Not going out on the town all the time also drastically cut down on my alcohol intake and spending, which made me healthier and quickly reversed some fast growing credit card debt.
I think the moment you realize that a dog is not just “a pet” but a living, breathing, feeling animal that yearns to be a member of the family the more amazing and rewarding your relationship becomes. For me that realization came when Miley was just a puppy, she would lay next to me on the couch with her tiny little head on my thigh and her eyes would simply stare at me and never leave. They were always searching, searching for love, acceptance and approval, approval that she was a “good dog.” She was….. and I made sure she knew it everyday, and I could never of possibly imagined how much love Amanda and I would grow to feel for her today.
What I never expected was how in tune she is to us, how much she cares for us, and how smart she is. A dog’s olfactory is incredibly powerful, so strong that it can even identify if something is wrong inside the human body. They can literallysmell the tumors growing by changes in a persons breadth and emissions. Miley since she was a puppy has always done a sort of awkward painful motion: she would look at me, put her ears back, her tail down and look at her backside. She would then run to me and curl up at my side for comfort and give me that endless stare searching for approval, for love, for …..a way to tell me something was wrong. We have taken countless trips to the vet for what we would always assume was a urinary track infection, to have the tests come up negative. Well, after my diagnosis all of the painful looks have disappeared, her ailment is cured, because she knows I now know, she knows I got the message.
If trying to warn me wasn’t enough for you, Miley has taken on a new mission of being my challenges drill instructor. Many people say that exercising is the one of the best ways to fight this disease. Apparently Miley believes it too, because since my diagnosis on days when I have not yet exercised she will hop up on the couch next to me, paw my arms uncrossed from my lap and grab hold of the LiveStrong bands on my wrist with her teeth. She pulls with all her strength until I stand up and then promptly goes right to the closet to get her leash. I know it sounds farfetched, but she has never done that before in her life previous to my diagnosis.
Finally, when not feeling well she refuses to leave your side. When Amanda scratched her cornea and had a patch on her eye, I told her Miley became her pirate dog “argghh” because she would not budge. And on days after chemo when I’m sick, worn down and just need my rest she gently curls up next to me, to let me know she’s there and everything’s going to be ok.
(This picture was day 3 of my first chemo cycle, Miley curled up next to me on the left and that is Oakley’s butt on the right, he is still young and doesn’t quite get it yet lol! )
Much Love – Teej
p.s. There is a book called “The Art of Racing in the Rain” that tells a story from a dogs point of view in a situation similar to this. It was a really good read, and I have heard some people say it was the best book they have ever read. Although, my personal favorite dog book was “A Dog’s Purpose,” also from a dogs point of view. I have never laughed out loud or cried so much as I did when I read that book, a truly amazing read.