Pettigrew is a rescue dog. We don’t know his birthday; however, we do know and celebrate the day he joined our family.
In the beginning, this was a gala event. The boys would spend days crafting unique gifts. What self-respecting dog wouldn’t be proud to sport a t-shirt with glitter wings? In addition there were pilgrimages to our local, boutique, pet store to carefully select delectable treats and new toys.
Houseguests would add their own pet store selections to the pile of gifts through which Pettigrew could paw. One year he scored some nice rope to chew and a jar of cat food formulated for dogs.
As everyone in the family has gotten older, birthday celebrations have become simpler. No longer do we host three separate events–treats for the class at school, a party with grandparents, and a final celebration with friends.
And Pettigrew’s celebrations have become smaller too. Last year no one was up for a trip to the pet store and what with one thing and another, I never stopped there myself. As we got farther and farther from his adoption day, I finally recognized that we weren’t going to celebrate at all.
This year, I was determined that we wouldn’t forget. No one was interested in the pet store, so on the way home from work I stopped and made my selections. I looked in vain for the stuffed squirrels he loved to shred in his youth and the $11 bully bones were now $2.99 and a fraction of their former size. I settled on a squeaky duck and two of the inferior bones.
Pettigrew, in the true spirit of gift giving, was thrilled with his bounty. No recriminations. No longing for what once was. The bones disappeared in a flash, but the duck has lingered, showing no signs of destruction. He only rarely even squeaks it. In fact, he seems to have befriended the duck, holding it protectively between his two front paws as he relaxes on the carpet.
I guess Pettigrew has aged too and the gusto with which he once greeted his new toys has mellowed into a more adult appreciation.
It is bittersweet to think back on his youthful exuberance; however, just as Pettigrew doesn’t find fault with his diminished gift pile, I enjoy the dog he is today. Looking at my maturing family I think about the words my mother uttered every year as my sister and I were growing up, “You are perfect …now don’t change.” Of course, we always did.