I thought I knew what love was. I was so wrong.
Four weeks ago my life did another flip flop when my boyfriend made the spontaneous decision to bring home a puppy.
We had flirted with the idea before but he was finally pushed over the edge while looking after our friends’ winsome dog, Tallie. Her fluffy presence inspired him to make the move.
When I met our pup she was sitting in the passenger seat of his car on a camouflage sleeping bag. She was the size of a football, with stubby little legs, fur black as coal except for one white toe and a small white patch on her chest. She has floppy triangle ears and a wide set of big ol’ puppy eyes that stare back at you with all the wonder of the world.
When I first saw her I felt that rush of emotions that makes my chest feel heavy and my eyes water. I can remember specific moments in my life where I’ve been caught off guard by pure joy such as watching the opening scene of the “Lion King” on Broadway with my Mum, or when I was in the last kilometre of the Tokyo marathon.
We named her Val, for Valkyrie after the Norse mythological handmaidens who chose which slain warriors on the battlefield could go to Valhalla. Little Val was the runt of the litter with eight brothers and sisters. She is a perfect little mutt that could pass off as a lab. Her mother is a lab/shepherd and her father is a huskie/collie.
The first few days we had her she was so small and fragile I was afraid I would break her. She had two restless nights in her crate, since then she’s been a dream and only begins to stir when she hears one of us wake up. Her quiet dopey innocence wore off as the days came and went as her personality began to grow with her spindly legs.
Val has developed two speeds, raptor mode and puppy burnout. When she’s in raptor mode she comes at you mouth open and wants to chew on whatever she catches in her jaw. After being a raptor for about 20 minutes to an hour she burns out and sleeps in the oddest positions. I love when she snores, not so much when she farts. Although to be fair to Val, her coat smells like vanilla and her breath smells like wheat whenever she first wakes up.
Other Val-isms include a dislike for shiny metal objects, an aversion to rain, an unwillingness to walk unless she’s with “the pack” — meaning more than just me walking her — a fondness for lying in my lavender plant and eating wood chips and foliage, and a habit of finding tea towels around the house and dragging them into her bed.
I wasn’t ready for Val to come into my life. The largest animal I had in my life growing up was two dwarf hamsters. I also had an anole, one of those green finger-sized lizards that spent most of the day on its heat rock.
My ignorance of dogs caused a slight irrational fear of the species that only grew worse when I traveled. I had a few encounters of being stalked and chased by stray dogs in Asia. That fear has eroded rapidly since meeting Val. I feel like suddenly I’ve joined a new club — the dog owner club.
Before Val I felt like the members of this club surrounded me. Every time I left my home and looked down the streets of my cookie-cutter suburban neighbourhood there were people walking their dogs. I’d walk alone, without a kid in the stroller or a dog on a lease, and felt like something was missing. Now I know, it was Val.
So please forgive my gushing in this blog, my Instagram #puppylove feed, or if I speak with you and all I can talk about is my pup. It happened. I’m a suck. But my heart is better for it.