At least once a week, I’ll cry over Pacer. The tears are from the purest Love I know. They symbolize both my deepest gratitude for being blessed to have the best companion I could ever want, and an even deeper grief knowing one day she will most likely leave this Earth before me. (I’ve cried every time I have thought of, written, and edited that line.) The funny thing is that I know she loves me just the same. She just doesn’t seem to share my sorrow. It’s like she knows, or at least more truly believes, something I don’t. Sometimes I swear I can see the Universe through her eyes.
One of my only hopes when I leave this world is that I can fully encompass so much Love.
God is Love. Dog is Love.
I am by no means an expert in the history of language, but I can with almost 100% certainty say that it is no coincidence that God spelled backwards is Dog. If only the religions of the world recognized that, there would be no shortage of compassion.
A little more on our Love story:
When my then boyfriend and I (we adopted her together) went to pick up Pacer (in Asheboro, NC), I was just about as nervous as I was excited—pretty much how I am going on any mountain adventure.
That little squirt was such a beautiful little determined sass-ball from the start. She tripped my boyfriend walking up to the car, puked in my lap on the drive home, and had us chasing her around the yard from the start.
When me and that first boyfriend split (I guess we can call him her Dad), it was never a question of whom she’d go with. I would’ve stayed in that relationship if I had to, even though we had exhausted all options of working things out. I’m pretty sure he and I both cried when I left. Pacer probably licked my tears. But did she know that we were leaving for good?
Pacer has been with me through several other relationships after that, like the one boy I fell in love with, hard and fast, but between The Pill* that left me with panic attacks, navigating a transition back to being a student, and a whole lot of insecurities, we couldn’t make it work. I’m not sure how much I cried on mine and Pacer’s trip to Cloud Peak Wilderness in Wyoming (I may have still been in denial), but she remained my constant companion through the very literal highs and lows.
*I am by no means against The Pill or any other method of birth control. For me they just didn’t work. And for any guy reading this, go you for wearing a condom and taking part of the responsibility off your partner.
Then there was the relationship that ended with a boyfriend coming home drunk and angry, her body under mine in hopes that I could protect her from some of the yelling. She never judged me for not leaving sooner and instead gave comfort by simply laying next to me (plus some incessant pawing and licking) not as I cried from heartbreak but the absurdity of it all. Then off to the mountains we went again, seeking healing in the San Juans, her never leaving my side even when not happy with my route decisions. (She has, however, learned to demand rest days.)
The last boyfriend, whom we both adored, maybe loved, but only Pacer could ever say. Except my internal warning system has never been able to turn off of high alert from the last one. I can’t tell you if the system was accurate or faulty, only that when I felt my throat constrict and the weight in my chest that I was already trapped in a mix of fight and flight. All my body could tell me was enough. Even on those lonely nights hoping for a text or a “like” on Facebook, Pacer just curled up beside me on the couch (unless she got bored with me ignoring her for the computer, and put herself to bed.)
True Love is unconditional. We’ve never needed words because we could always attune to the other’s presence. Or maybe spirit? Pacer is my ultimate Love story.
I laugh because that certainly isn’t to stay our story has been perfect or easy. I still can’t say I’ve totally forgave myself for some of the training tools (ex. e-collar) I used on her as a puppy (instructed by professionals) or some of the mountains I’ve taken her up when she was clearly not happy with me by the end. And I can still see her little body running through our old house with the veggie burgers I made for dinner locked in her jaw. Even more so, Pacer has made my life more challenging. I can’t be away from home for more than 8 hours (maybe 9, but then I feel guilty), I can’t travel unless Sandi can watch her or I can afford to put her in boarding with a trainer who is used to working with reactive dogs, and I carefully consider each trail we can go on safely. Then there’s the constant worry. Like right now, her first few steps on her hind leg are tentative, and then she’s fine. Should we do an easy hike tomorrow, or should we abandon ship (or rather, our camping trip) and head home? Nevertheless, all of that is second. Effortlessly, she slid into my life as my number one priority. I never regret anything I haven’t been able to do because of her. Because her laying next to me is worth so much more than anything else.
I probably should add…it’s not to say I don’t love some of the humans in my life to the Nth degree. It’s just that we humans often come with conditions and stories of what Love should be, which makes it harder. Pacer just is Love. (At least to those who know her. For those of who don’t—well my friend told me that Pacer has the bite that I don’t always have when I should.) Together we just ARE.
Maybe Pacer, and all dogs, have been put into this world to teach humans what Love is.
In many ways, Pacer and I are wild, stubborn or determined (depending on your perspective), and tamed only in the sense that I am Hers and She is mine.
A Dog and Her Girl