Just over four years ago I adopted this little munchkin from the Kansas Humane Society:
My oldest childhood memories involve having pets, but there were still serious reservations about bringing a doggie into my world again. Responsibility!? Taking care of something other than myself? What about my routine, freedom and flexibility?! This dog might threaten all of those! Little did I know how none of those concerns would really matter once we bonded and got into our own routine.
Her adoption paperwork on the kennel read ‘Maggie Muffin: Retriever Mix, Lonely Hearts Club Member’. In other words she was a clearance puppy, half off. The only background the KHS was able to provide was that she had spent her first year in a backyard cage, probably taken from her mama too early. To say she had issues is an understatement. She had never played with dog toys. She didn’t know what to do with a dog bone. She had never worn a collar or been on a walk. She was terrified of nearly everything.
Who could not love those big brown eyes? I started calling her Nala (‘Gift’ in Swahili and also one of the lions in Disney’s Lion King), which my sister morphed into Nally.
Over the past four years Nally has sprinted through Kansas prairie, blazed trails in Colorado, lived with her cousins for a month in Chicago, flown multiple times in a single-engine airplane, discovered the joy of off-leash beach dog parks in Seattle, as well as endless Washington trails and camping. She still has some residual ‘issues’, but compared to the pup from four years ago she’s doing awesome.
We’ve had a lot of adventures together, but it’s the daily routine that I know I’ll miss most this upcoming year. She greets me every day when I open the front door, waits impatiently for me to scratch the spot right above her tail, refill her water bowl or lay with her on the couch. She rests her head on me when I’m ill or sad; cheers me up with her ‘kisses’. She motivates me to be active in the winter. She’s helped me log many miles on the pavement. She’s the fluffiest, softest puppy I’ve ever loved. Oh and she can also go from lazy to crazy in the blink of an eye.
Just over a year ago, she accompanied me on the 1800+ mile drive out west. Now as we get ready for the 1700+ mile drive back east it will be with a heavier heart, knowing I’ll be leaving her behind for the next year. Likely the sadness will be one-sided though. After being an only child for so long she’ll get to hang out with her cousins, Monster and Tyson, every day as my sister and her husband have graciously agreed to watch her. It is a truly amazing gesture of support and kindness.
She has to know something is up. Not because of the packing, but because the past few months were filled with lung-crushing hugs and an endless supply of treats and play-time. Just thinking about the next few weeks and ultimately leaving her behind for this big adventure leaves me teary and feeling guilty. I will definitely be soaking up as much Nally-love over these next three weeks as possible. And yes, I will be Skyping with my puppy-frog on the road!
Who wouldn’t miss this sweet, snuggly fur ball?!
(side note – #9 on 30b30 is complete. Nala ran 2-3x a week with me these past few months, plus walks, plus dog park and swim time…Court, get ready for some crazy!)