So my dear friend Ellen (she wrangled Beowulf at my wedding and is a savior to kitties in need) posted some pics the other day of some very spiffy tags she had gotten for her gang of quadrupedal hooligans from Down 2 Earth Jewelry. They were these fabulous lucky penny tags.
So of course I had to get some for my dogs, because I can’t possibly have my dogs losing out in the Cool Collar Jewelry game, now can I?
But it caused some consternation. I am one of those dog owners who has the t-shirt that says “Dog is my co-pilot.” I have the bumper sticker, too, and it’s on my back bumper. And for years now, that co-pilot has been Tink. We have had many an adventure together, usually on Civil War battlefields (but once on a Revolutionary War battlefield). We’ve logged a lot of miles, sometimes with Beowulf, sometimes without.
Now, Tink is six. Her weird medical problems have gotten a little weirder (see also: recent eye removal, hair loss from Tinea versicolor infection…) and her joints are not the most stable. I’ve hit 34, and over the past year particularly my own medical problems have gotten worse. The current drug I’m on lowers my chronic pain substantially, but has also screwed with my balance something fierce, and I’m using a cane full-time and training up Sid as a service dog.
I’m not saying Tink and I will never have adventures again. But we’re past the point where we are the only companions we need on them, where we can thoughtlessly jump in the car and head out. I have to think ahead, figure out if both Tink and I have the energy for this, if we have time to recover. I have to ask myself and answer with brutal honesty, “Do I want Tink to come because I think Tink will enjoy this, or would she be happier at home?” More and more often, the answer is “Tink would be happier at home.” To be fair, more and more often the answer is also “I would be happier at home” as well, but I don’t have that option a lot of the time. This is why, when we went to Kentucky, despite the fact that I desperately wanted my beloved Tink with me for the comfort she would have provided, Tink stayed home. She would have been unhappy with the hotel, which did not have elevators and required doing the stairs multiple times a day for potty trips. She would have been unhappy with having to potty on leash. And she had just had surgery, and didn’t need to be that far from her vet. Just in case.
So when it came time to choose slogans for tags (I went with descriptive titles, rather than their names), it was hard. A couple years ago, I would have put “co-pilot” on Tink’s tag in a heartbeat, and meant it. These days, though… these days. But there is one phrase that describes Tink and will always describe her, one that other dog people will recognize and those who are not dog people might get: heart dog. The one in a million dog who is the living, breathing, canine part of you, the dog who is like oxygen in the air. No matter what, that one is Tink’s.
So it was with great love and also sadness that I ordered their tags. Tink’s says “heart dog,” Beowulf’s says “love hound,” Zille’s says “fetchy dog,” and Sid’s? Siddymonster’s tag says “co-pilot.” It’s his job now to keep me safe in the great outdoors, to be my tireless companion whose energy picks me up when I’m flagging, the one who will go out on a slightly crisp (but not TOO crisp, I don’t do cold) morning without complaint.
I think he’ll do just fine. No, I believe he’ll do better than that: I believe he will be freakin brilliant. But I’m going to miss this smile on the battlefields.