By Robin Abrahams
Happy Gotcha Day, little man.
Two years ago tonight you were dropped off at our house, shaking all over with excitement and fear. You were wearing a studded Harley Davidson collar that someone at the clinic had found for you. They also gave us half a bag of Science Diet and a crate for you to sleep in that could have housed a small pony.
You weren't sure about us, and I was not sure about you, by a long shot. You were on probation--if you didn't work out, I could take you back to the clinic any time and they'd try again to find a home for you.
Your first home hadn't worked out too well. I never found out much about it, but I know you grew up in a suburban backyard, without many friends, and that once you were old enough you got bored and lit out for something more. (I could identify, but I wasn't going to tell you that, not yet.) You didn't know about the dangers of fast cars, or starvation, or the dogfighting gangs that would have used a little guy like you as bait to train pit bulls. You lucked out and wound up at a clinic where they cleaned you up, and fixed you, and put you up for adoption.
And then you wound up with us.
I thought having a dog would help me to get out of my head and live in the moment. But you don't live in the moment. You live in some hypothetical future in which there is chicken. When I take you to the park on a beautiful autumn morning you don't frolic and revel in the glorious present with me. You stare at the gate and wait for your doggy friends to come. And wait. And whine. And wait. And refuse to play catch with me, even though you desperately want to play.
I thought that as a purely physical being, you could help me learn to inhabit my body more gracefully, to resolve the mind-body split that plagues us knowledge workers of the Western world. But whenever you take a hard poop you believe that your own butt has attacked you, and depending on your mood you either launch a counterstrike, or try to run away from it.
You have no Buddha nature, little man. None at all. You are made of desire. You are as neurotic and conflicted as Woody Allen, and you have better comic timing, too. You have failed utterly to teach me what I hoped a dog could teach, and have instead taught me things I didn't even realize I needed to know. Sometimes, even, things I thought I knew but didn't.
It's been a great two years, little man, and I hope for many more.
Happy Gotcha Day, beloved Milo. Please don't eat the flowers.