Friday, November 12, 2010

A dog tribute

We had a child out of wedlock. He is our bastard child and he was born to a real bitch. His name is Graham and he came to us from a breeder in Northern California.  Its a big step for a couple to get a dog together. I wish more people took it as seriously as we did. We did all the things that expecting parents do. We read the dog books, we researched breeds, and I even went to the bookstore and searched through baby name books to find just the perfect name. Finally on a warm day at LAX our baby arrived.
I choose the name Graham because it was a Scottish surname that meant homestead. Unlike a baby, you can choose the sex and the breed. I choose him because a. I love chocolate and b. he is cute. Little did I know he would be the foreshadowing of things to come.  
Having a puppy teaches you a lot about your relationship. I had gotten a puppy with a previous boyfriend. Ironically it was also a chocolate lab, but when we realized that not only were we completely irresponsible, poor and on shaky relationship ground, having a puppy did not fix things. In fact it will test things.  Poor Java Bean ended up living with his parents after our breakup. 
I remember the first night I had with Graham. I settled him into his cozy new crate, gave him a toy, put the lights out and was ready to go to sleep.  That is when the crying started... and it didn't stop.  Didn't he understand that I had class the next day?  By 3 a.m. I seriously considered leaving him on a leash tied to the stop sign  knowing that someone would pick him up and give him a new home. I have felt so guilty about that ever since.  Things did get better, but who knew how expensive this was going to be? Shots? Food? Removal of his balls?  Potty training was a shitty experience all in itself.  Did I mention that dogs were not allowed in my apartment?  So if  I were to leave and have him cry, I would get evicted.  I specifically remember visiting my neighbor upstairs to explain that we had a dog and if he heard crying that is what it was, and to please not tell on me.  He happened to be in a wheelchair, and an insomniac and there were times that  I think he fell out of his chair and flopped around like a fish, because the noise was as loud as a construction site.  He understood this, and said mums the word. Did I mention that he wasn't wearing pants when he opened the door? That is an entirely different post all together.
When I wanted to go out one night, I realized that this chocolate ball and chain would not let me. I called a dog sitter. To my dismay, they were not like a baby dog sitter,  they didn't come over for an hour or two and babysit so you could go out, they took care of your dog while you were AWAY.  Bummer, and I'm sure the guy I spoke with thought I was a real lunatic. 
So Graham and I became very close very fast. There were tears and laughter. I'm a habitual dog dresser upper. Graham has worn veils, shirts, hats, shoes, name it and he has not only worn it, but it has been documented with photos. 
When my boyfriend proposed and we made plans for our honeymoon, I could not let Graham be alone. So my maid of honor and I drove 2000+ miles to Indiana. Once we were married my husband and I  drove from Indiana to California, and stayed at dog friendly hotels.  Once we got to LA we dropped him off at an approved cage free doggy care center ( $$$)  and went to Sonoma for a honeymoon without the baby :) I wonder if the people at our wedding knew there monetary gifts would be going to our dog? 
Lets fast forward 10 years.  Graham has been around for each and every son we have had. In fact I think he knew I was pregnant before I did.  He would become a little bit more protective of me while I was prego.  When I had a miscarriage and couldn't bear to get out of bed, he stayed, didn't even get up to eat. 
With each son he graciously welcomed them with a gentle, non jealous demeanor, knowing very well that he was now not even in the backseat, he was in the trunk when it came to family hierarchy. When we brought our 4th son home, I swear he looked at me with a look that said "seriously?" 
Make no mistake, Graham is a strange dog, he is not your typical lab. He isn't overly friendly to strangers, he has an uncanny judge of character. He also has a french accent when he talks.. He seems to have an iron stomach because he has eaten at times, an entire loaf of french bread, numerous diapers 
(the brown variety) an entire pizza cooling on the oven, a box of chocolate, friendship bread, cheese, and whatever the boys don't want to eat for dinner.
But lately I have noticed that Graham is slowing down a bit. He is 77 in dog years and will turn 84 in February. I'm realistic in knowing the life span of a lab. We are lucky right now to have him at 11.
He is still loyal and I cannot go into the bathroom without him following me. But I know our time is limited. 
Graham taught me how to be a mom.  He taught us how to be a couple, and he showed me what true unconditional love is. So with this post I honor my canine son Graham and hope to be able to celebrate his life now and make his silver years his very best.  He has been our silent anchor always greeting us at the door with a wag. The least we can do for him is let him do his job a little longer.


  1. I didn't realize he had a French accent? I will have to listen for it next time. I forgot about your downstairs neighbor and no pants. ha ha. Also, never heard that babysitter story...what a riot! Graham is such an amazing AND PATIENT angel with a tail. Great post!

  2. A toast to your furry first. Long may he reign.

  3. I love Graham...even if he is a bit senile.