It occurred to me today that I have two loving, well-behaved, surprisingly obedient dogs, but on those rare occasions when they’re not, the blame does not belong on their heads.
For my last three birthdays, I have been given one gift that rose above the others in quality and the excitement around receiving it. I am not the kind of person who puts special importance on brands, or styles, or the expensiveness of new “hot articles” of clothing and accessories. I shop at thrift stores. So when a gift comes along that is both a bit expensive (compared to thrift store items under $5), well-made, and still follows my rather odd eclectic style, I must admit I become a bit attached.
Year: 2013 Birthday: 23 Gift: Customized Chaco Sandals given by my husband (then my boyfriend) Destroyed: 3 months later by our first dog Sadie, then 9 months old
Year: 2014 Birthday: 24 Gift: Orange and Turquoise Straw Fedora from Prana given by my husband (then my fiance Destroyed: 22 months later by our second dog Brucewillis, then 5 months old
Year: 2015 Birthday: 25 Gift: Orange Taos Sandals purchased with the birthday money given by my parents Destroyed: 1 month later by Brucewillis, 8 months old
As much as the thought entertained me, I couldn’t blame these lapses in canine judgement on the fact that Sadie was a rescue, or that we gave Brucewillis a ridiculous and equally hardcore name (he is ridiculous, yet incredibly less hardcore). No, despite the pattern of enjoying the taste of only my nice things, of only birthday presents, I had to look myself in the eye and admit that the unfortunate series of desecration was totally my fault.
It’s difficult for puppies to subdue their chewing urges, much like a toddler who knows deep down that they should not draw on the walls in marker, yet cannot stop the inexplicable force of curiosity that leads them to continue doing it. And like the parent who neglected to put the markers far enough out of reach, I had failed to close the doors, to put my nice things in the closet or on the hook where they belong. Oddly enough, I was very conscious of the fact that I was far less angry once I returned the responsibility to my own hands, removed it from the furry heads of animals that are really no more aware than the child drawing on the wall with wide eyes.
It’s a little lesson here, one that I learned a long time ago but that never ceases to amaze me with its existence. When we look at frustrating situations in a different way, in a more humble and less materially attached way, not only do we gain a new understanding of those around us and the way in which we react, but the negative emotions that stroll hand-in-hand with accidents are not actually as powerful as we thought.
After all, who could stay angry at these little doofuses?
Perhaps I’m just not meant to have nice things…at least for my birthday.