One silver lining of COVID-19 is that I’m working remotely from home and despite the constant interruptions, I’ve grown to appreciate situation. I’m afforded experiences not normally available to me when working physically in the office. Among which is seeing my daughter grow up, right before my eyes. Every day, I catch these fleeting moments, such as her lifting her chin up and staring softly and lovingly at her mom.
Yet, these beautiful moments strike fear in me.
I have not been able to shake that idea that that Elliott will forget about the dogs — Metric and Mushroom — once they pass away, memories of them vanishing too. Compared to us humans, dogs live a short life span, an unfair reality. And my dogs, in particular, have likely reached their half-life. So, every time the two dogs roll around on the floor with Elliott and every time Elliott puckers her lips and lays a wet one on their noses, I simultaneously feel both joy and pain. Joy for the current moment. Pain for the future.
I fear that Elliott’s memories of the dog will fade because I too forgot about my first dog. Apparently, I grew up with a German Shepherd, named Champ. Apparently, Champ was present in the first two years of my life— but I have zero recollection of him.
I do wonder, though, how much of Champ left an imprint on me. Did his presence early on in my life influence my “random” decision of choosing a German Shepherd breed for my first dog?
Back to my Elliot. I painfully understand that she’ll only remember, if I’m lucky, fragments of her first two dogs. She’ll forget their unique smells. She’ll forget the countless number of times we pulled out dog hair from her mouth during lunch. She’ll forget all the times she woke up from a nap, screaming for them to join her in bed.
She’ll forget the first day she met the two dogs, the day we brought her home from the hospital, when both dogs dutifully slept by her crib, neither dog leaving her side, obediently guarding her. She’ll forget all the times she purposelessly threw scraps of food on the floor for them to lick off the ground.
But as her father, I’ll never forget. I’ll remember them, cherish them, and hold on to them, dearly.
And the best I can offer her, and myself, are capturing and collecting and sharing these memories.
So, here you go, Elliott. Here are a few snapshots of your childhood with the doggies.