This is Bongo.
I thought I should introduce him, since he's very much a part of our family.
Four years ago, just after we moved to Calgary, I began persuading J to get a dog. You can't, I explained, move to a house in the suburbs, with a back garden and two parks within minutes walking distance, and not have a dog. It just isn't right. I went on and on protesting and staking my argument for a dog for weeks. J wasn't sure. It seemed like a big responsibility (ha!).
Then one Sunday morning in August I pulled up the SPCA web site and showed J screen shots of cuddly, teary-eyed, rejected puppies needing homes. He agreed to go along to the pound just to have a look. Of course no one can go to a dog pound just for a look at cute puppies and then leave without one.
The first dog we met was Bongo. An 8-month Australian Shepperd cross with two different coloured eyes and a multi-coloured, speckled coat, who was so freaked out from being in the pound that he was practically hysterical when they let us in to meet him. He bounded up and down chasing a ball like an over-eager performing seal. In between, he'd run up to us to plant a lick on our faces or knees. We fell for him right away. A few hours later he was riding home with us in the back of our VW Beetle. I remember the car journey - J and I glancing at each other with the apprehension of two people that have rushed into something on impulse they might later regret.
So Bongo became our baby. We went through the motions like new parents: first, we arrived home, looked at him and then each other, and went into a blind panic because we had no clue what to do. Then we rushed out to the store and purchased every dog accessory we could get our hands on in the hopes that that would make us good dog parents. Then we spent a few weeks fumbling around trying to figure out how to take care of him and how we needed to adjust our lives to make room for him.
He went everywhere with us, even work. He would come with us to the office, and spend his day trying to coax people to play fetch by shoving his stuffed toys on their laps.
Fast forward four years and insert the entire storyline from Marley & Me (minus the third child). I'm not often moved to tears by movies, but I cried all the way through the last hour of this film. It was a little too close to home. The home that once doted on the dog - the only child, now chaotic with screaming kids and a mother at the end of her rope, ripping into the dog for waking the babies up from their nap.
I realized I've been pretty horrible to Bongo lately. So, since watching the film, I've been making an effort to be nicer. Even when he walks backwards in front of me when I'm carrying a mountain of laundry and I almost trip over him, and I have to grit my teeth to not scream. Or when he drops his tennis ball on my foot hoping I'll play, right as I'm trying to calm a crying child.
Because even after a daily dose of yelling, screaming, tail tugging and general chaos he's still there with his big goofy smile, tongue hanging out, tail wagging happily.
And really, who else would still love you after all that?