It was not a great day. I won’t even say it was that good of a day. School, as usual, was filled with mind-numbing minutia about the daily life of colonists, equations, grammar rules, new music, and some dull architectural drawings. Marching band had tired me out to my core, making me irritable, sweaty, and unpleasant. Due to unforeseen events I had to get a ride home from my friend, Billy. His mom picked us up in her blue minivan, we arrived at my house, and I left the car and thanked them for the wonderful, air conditioned ride. It was a glorious reprieve from a stiflingly hot day without conditioned air. When they didn’t leave after I got to my porch, it immediately it became apparent something was different.
The mood had shifted ever so slightly. Maybe it was the way my home stood warmly and stoically in front of me, inviting me in to take a much needed nap. Maybe it was the way it stared right back at me as I gazed at it. Perhaps, instead, it was the crisp smell of late summer wafting throughout my yard, or the rumble of fresh green leaves in the light breeze. It could have even been the way the light bounced on and off of the leaves, trees, sky, and clouds to create a portrait of nature of which I didn’t really understand yet. I shrugged all of it off and opened the front door, not knowing how everything was going to change. I cracked the door, and my brain exploded into a million individual pieces.
I felt absolutely disgusting. It had been 90 degrees outside, and we had been marching for an hour and a half straight. The dark sweat lines on my orange shirt still were visible, and my brow had gone from wet to sticky. My hair was greasy with heat and sweat. My heavy drum was taking its toll on my back, and as I walked up to the door I had a slight slouch. As I approached, my arms swung at my sides heavily, like pendulums. I was in bad shape. A shower and some sleep would’ve turned me into a new person. However, I would have to wait to even enjoy the air conditioning. For now, I was a gross, grumpy mess.
The kitchen was the same as it always had been, but it was now completely different. As I walked forward, the bright sun illuminated the dark green walls and the light brown wooden cabinets. The floor was slightly more dirty than usual, as the sun highlighted the tiny dirt piles like mountains on the floor. The light refracted through the clean, sliding glass door and reflected off of our kitchen table, a dark, almost mahogany colored table. The chairs matched the table, six of them in total, and light streamed through the cracks in their stylized backs. The light avoided the sink, black and full of dirty dishes, but streamed onto the refrigerator. Dust particles filled the air and turned the light into beams. Those beams of light shone down onto a different kind of beam. They illuminated a beam of happiness.
I was unable to comprehend what was happening. Under one of our wooden kitchen chairs, barely a foot tall, stood the most adorable puppy I had ever seen. He was a German Shepherd with big, disproportionate, floppy ears, black over almost all of his body, and big, scared brown eyes. Those scared eyes told the story of a little boy who was just ripped from his mother and put into a foster home. Unbeknownst to that little guy, he was is the most loving home in the world. His paws were absolutely massive and totally disproportionate to the rest of his body. They were indicative of the giant he would soon become. He was perfectly perfect. Then I noticed my sister, mom, and dad staring at me, waiting for my reaction. Billy had crept up to the front door to stare of the 8th natural wonder of the world. I was dumbstruck and immediately raced over to the puppy and gently started smothering him. He didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t either. A friendship was starting. This was one year ago, and much has changed since then.
Now, he is 90 pounds, has a heart of gold, and can catch a frisbee like nobody’s business. A dog, sure, but that does not diminish the amount of heart that he has. In fact, the fact that he’s a dog only it that much stronger. He’s pure German engineering, and, should the task arise, could protect my family and I with the strength of K9 Unit. His dark snout and confident brown eyes show his strength and vulnerability like a puppy with armor. His giant, rabbit-like ears represent his sillier side when all that matters is saying hello to you at the door. His coat is nothing short of a masterpiece. A black saddle, surrounded by brown fur on his legs, and a poofy black and brown tail that turns into a whip when he’s excited. He’s ball of fierce, dopey, and innocent energy. The kind of innocent energy that, if you aren’t careful, will sweep you off of your feet and drag you around in the dirt until he realizes what he’s done. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is that Marty is, and forever will be, the greatest thing ever.
And now, a year later, with hundreds of hours of catch, tug of war, and jumping with excitement later, Marty continues to be a gift to me and my family. All of those hours my family and I have spent with him have forged an impenetrable bond of friendship that no amount of dirt, grime, scratches, or swats on the nose will break. Marty is exploding with love, as most dogs do, and his love will never falter. He’s a daily reminder that there will always be something worth living for. He’s worth the massive amounts of cleaning and the time, because we depend on him as much, if not more than, as he depends on us. We are responsible for his survival, and he is responsible for our sanity. Hopefully, all the treats, love, and hugs we shower him with get through his thick, stubborn, playful, beautiful, impossibly perfect brain and show him that he is truly a good boy.