Our first-born found us in March of 2004. Actually, my in-laws were the ones to discover him abandoned off the side of a country road, only a few weeks old, near the body of his sister. They brought him home and showed us a picture. For my husband and I it was love at first sight.
Before you begin to wonder where social services was in all of this, I will mention that our first-born was of the canine variety. He was a little ball of dark fur missing part of his tail. He was full of energy and sharp pointy teeth that he exercised on everything! I joked that he embraced the design style made famous in the Ben Stiller movie, Zoolander, pronounced Der E leak. If you ever wanted sensitive papers shredded, he was your go to pup.
Thankfully, he eventually grew out of puppy teething and into a positively wonderful friend. Sure, he brought in mud, occasionally stank up the house, and often barked more than we’d like – to this day I maintain that the cat across the street purposely enjoyed taunting him by laying about in full view from our picture window knowing he couldn’t do anything about it. But he was loyal, protective, and caring.
He was a mixed breed, but most likely contained more than a little pit bull in his genetic make-up. Had I known that at the time we adopted him, I may not have been so quick to add him to our family. I have since learned that there is a lot of misunderstanding about the breed. Unfortunately, this misunderstanding can extend into some dog care facilities as not all places will accept pit bulls (or pit bull mixes) as clients. As a result, we took our dog everywhere with us.
He had been the center of our little family for more than 4 years when I became pregnant with our first son, and I was extremely apprehensive about how the dog would adjust to a new living thing in the house. One of my co-workers gave me a CD of baby sounds to play in advance of the new addition so that our dog could get used to the noise. He would whimper when I played it, desperate to rescue the child from the stereo, but I do believe it made the transition easier.
During this same time, my husband was traveling extensively for extended periods of time. He hadn’t yet gone into business for himself. More than a little hormonal, I might have not handled my husband’s absence as well without the comfort of our dog by my side.
Whether it was the preparation work, or just our dog’s nature, he adjusted beautifully to the new pack structure after our son was born. For a very brief period, they were even roommates. Our dog would look at our son in his crib through the window of his crate as if to say, “so… what are you in here for?”
When I was working from home or otherwise writing, our dog would lie on the couch beside our computer twitching as he chased dream cats. I learned to never schedule a conference call around the time the garbage trucks would swing by, at least not a call that I was going to have to do more than just listen into with the phone on mute. If I moved into a different room, he’d follow along. I jokingly referred to him as my assistant.
He should have been ten years old this year, but unfortunately a mast cell tumor took him from us a year and a half ago. If there was any silver lining, the time between diagnosis until point of passing was relatively quick, and neither of our sons were old enough at the time to truly comprehend what was going on. Our older son still occasionally asks about him, but our youngest son will only know him through pictures and the random story.
We often get asked if we will get another dog. I suspect we will…one day. The world is too full of unloved animals waiting for a second chance, for us to ignore indefinitely, but there will never be another Ajax for us.
An Uncertain Faith was dedicated to his memory and I still miss him every day.
While we might not be emotionally ready, if you are at all interested in adding a pet to your home, please consider a rescue animal. If you have a pet, monitor their skin just as you would your own. Skin cancers are not just limited to people and do not have to be a death sentence if caught early enough.