During a photo shoot for my yarn earlier in the year, Spring took this shot of Maddie, the birthday girl. Even though the dogs have been on my nerves all week (mainly Coco, who has taken a step back in her house breaking), I'm grateful to have them in my life.
Less than a month after I moved to New Mexico, I adopted Maddie from a no-kill shelter. My oldest sister was visiting me, and we were headed for a day in Santa Fe. We stopped at Starbucks for a chai to take on the ride, and as MB ordered, I perused the dogs that lined the sidewalk. Maddie (then named Tickle) stopped me in my tracks. I hemmed and hawed, MB sat patiently on a folded chair and made her "I'm not going to tell you what to do" face, and before long, Maddie was in my arms in the back seat of the car as MB drove us back to the apartment.
For the first two weeks, I cried almost every day. Despite Neal's warning that dogs are a lot of work, I had no idea what he meant. I wanted to give Maddie back; the only thing that stopped me was knowing that I would lose Neal's respect if I did. Then one day on a walk around the complex, Maddie barked at a stranger who approached me. He was a new neighbor, but one she didn't know, and she was ticked off that he dared come near. I told Neal about it that night, a little embarrassed by her behavior. He said, "She's bonded to you. She wants to protect you." From that moment on, I knew that we were a pair, me and Maddie. I learned to adjust my schedule, going to bed early so I could be cheerful at her 5:00 wake up nudge, staying home from parties so she wouldn't be alone. During the big hailstorm that fall, she snuggled up to me, just as scared, I think, as I was. When my first husband called to tell me our divorce was final, she licked the tears from my face.
I love my other dogs, no doubt, but Maddie is my first dog, the dog I had as a single woman. She'll always have a special place in my heart, even when she's misbehaving. Happy birthday, chica!