$1500 for a puppy. It was a crazy indulgence for me, someone who had always been frugal, especially when it came to buying something for myself. As morbid as it was, at the time, I also calculated how much it would be per year for this dog depending on how long he lived. Ridiculous now I know, because the value Atlas brought to my life on a daily basis was utterly priceless.
And then came the first scare. I picked him up Friday after school on September 15, 2006. On Sunday night we spent the entire night in the emergency vet. He was bleeding when he went to the bathroom. I remember that as the vet told me he wasn’t sure if he’d live, I was utterly shocked to realize I was devastated. It wasn’t about the money. I already loved this puppy. How could I possibly love this particular puppy after only three days? But I did.
And during the almost 8 1/2 years we had together, the 3,000 plus walks, the 6,000 plus feedings, the far too many vet visits, the tens of thousands of times I pet his amazingly soft fur and the truly countless times he made me smile, that love only grew.
He wasn’t perfect.
He’d mess with me in particular, wanting to play instead of coming in when I had to go to work. And there were the couple of times he found bones in the woods while on our walks; all hope of obedience was lost. In one story Wayne likes to retell he walked out the door to the crazy scene of Atlas mischievously bolting away from me while I was yelling behind him desperately to “Drop it!” Luckily, he ran straight to Wayne where he proceeded to vomit up half of a deer’s leg right at Wayne’s feet. It seemed an impossible size for a dog to have swallowed whole. But Atlas always loved his food. Admittedly even more than he did us.
He also loved to go into water that would invariably make him sick. And though he was generally good at the “leave it” command, he would purposely wait for a moment when I was distracted to sneak a quick plunge. It was hard not to delight in those romping happy dog moments, but unfortunately we so often had to pay a price for it, that we had to have him on leash more and more.
So often I second guess myself. So often I doubt. But I’ll never regret my decision to buy Atlas. He may not have been perfect, but he was perfect for me.