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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Mother's Day Present and Past

My first beloved dog was a Dachshund. One of the countless gifts my mom gave me, he was a promise kept. I spent the year before my 7th birthday looking forward to my own dog, buying a special bowl, gathering supplies, and being rather obsessed with becoming a Dachshund mom. That was a year in which family conflict boiled over, ending with divorce, and a lot of stress for my newly-single mom. In spite of all the challenges she faced, when my birthday arrived, a little short-haired, red, standard Dachshund was there to celebrate with me.

Herman was my best buddy for the next 14 years. I read aloud to him, walked him to the park with my friends, and trained him to jump hurdles and do obedience work. At the risk of being an obnoxious brag, he won the first place trophy in his obedience class. (And if you've ever trained a Dachshund,  you know I was rather relentless.) He was happy to sneeze on command, close doors that were ajar, or whatever I taught (and retaught) him to do. I eventually gave up my life goal of being a dog trainer, and became a school teacher. In a way Herman was my first pupil, and in a way my first kid.

We moved to sunny California, our neighborhood was lovely, and Herman, was always by my side. Of course there were moments, like the time he chewed a circle of fabric right out of our new living room rug, ate a starfish drying from a tide pool expedition and had to have his stomach pumped by the vet, and ruined my new school shoes by chewing the entire heel away. (This was a dog who eschewed chew toys, full of that trademark Dachshund independence.) He was always there, and a better childhood buddy I cannot imagine.

I often think about how graciously my mother managed those years alone with two kids, entirely reliant on her teacher salary to see us through. Like most moms, she never shared her worries and distress with us, but created a home filled with love, friends, and the kind of carefree childhood that everyone should enjoy.

Long story short, the picture up top is an early Mother's Day present from my own kid, who brought it from the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. We both love the simplicity of the image - one single line, that captures the Dachshund character so succinctly. That little refrigerator magnet means that Herman will be hanging out with me every day once again.

On Mother's Day I think of all the moms we remember and honor with cherished memories. I also think of all the dog moms who love their fur kids like I do, through thick and thin. And especially one beautiful, courageous mom who never broke her stride while providing a secure and loving family life for a young girl and her dog.

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