Tozer, Our First Baby

You laugh, and we say it with a smile on our faces as well; but Tozer has sort of been our first "baby." Of course raising a dog compared the expected challenges of raising a baby is like playing little league baseball versus playing in the major leagues (words spoken by a new parent with two dogs). He was the first living species that Ben and I could actually call ours, and to Tozer, we became his whole world. The first few months of his life, we began to see something outside of ourselves--this animal that depended on us and loved us (and continues to do so) despite our idiosyncrasies. The best part about this first "baby" is that he gives us unconditional love even though we have yelled at him numerous times for his erratic and sometimes destructive behavior, and because he does not yell back at us. Hum...I can't expect the same from the human species--more specifically, my children.

After finishing the book Marley and Me by John Grogan--a must read by those who have a beating heart--I have since wiped my eyes free of all tears and recounted the memorable moments in the book with Ben. We laughed at the parts where the dog Marley seems to have been cut from the same mold as our dog, Tozer. And we were sad as we thought of all that is to come with Tozer as he ages. I don't want to spoil the book, but here is an excerpt that touched my heart as we prepare to become parents of our first baby while loving the here and now with Tozer.

He [Marley/Tozer] was a central player in some of the happiest chapters of our lives. Chapters of young love and new beginnings, of budding careers and tiny babies. Of heady successes and crushing disappointments; of discovery and freedom and self-realization. He came into our lives just as we were trying to figure out what they would become. He joined us as we grappled with what every couple must eventually confront, the sometimes painful process of forging from two distinct pasts one shared future. [Tozer has become] part of our melded fabric, a tightly woven and inseparable strand in the weave that was us. [Just as we are shaping him into the family pet he is to become, he is helping to shape us as well]--as a couple, as parents, as animal lovers, and adults. [Tozer is teaching us] the art of unqualified love. How to give it, how to accept it. Where there is that, most of the the other pieces fall into place.

So as we get ready for the exciting chapter of becoming parents, Tozer reminds us to be loving and patient. To be ready for anything and to hold onto to every precious moment. It will go by so fast, and someday Tozer will be that marker of how fast time progresses as he ages. We will have to say good-bye to him one day, and our children who will also adore him, will say good-bye to him as well. But for now, he has helped Ben and I become "us", and for now, we love his spunk.

Sophia will love her doggie. And he will love her back.