• Mathura Hawley

bond

Updated: Aug 2, 2021


I decided as a gift to myself, I would rent a cabin at an upstate park. I worried that Luke, still so young and unruly, would turn the week into a nightmare of anxiety, this being his first real trip in my truck, his first time away from the apartment, and his only time out of the city. "

Luke was a difficult puppy, chewing his way across the living room from the base of the mirror to chair legs and foot stools. When he wasn’t eating furniture, he was eating me, bites and scratches growing like homemade tattoos up and down my arms. He hated the idea of sleeping, often catching himself about to nod off and shaking his head wildly to stay awake. With baby Luke, I was a single dad with a stressful job schedule, still coming out of a difficult time when my previous life had changed abruptly, without much closure or transition. I made the decision to get a puppy to shift my focus from my own darkness to the responsibility of caring for someone else, and it was harder than I had hoped. Still mourning my last life, partner, family, home, dogs, garden and routine gone suddenly over one summer, I struggled with moving on, and with caring for this little monster that demanded attention twenty-eight hours a day. For the first six months, I often broke down in tears of frustration and exhaustion. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, needing counseling from friends and a caring dog walker, paid to come for two hours of play time every day. I decided as a gift to myself, I would rent a cabin at an upstate park. I worried that Luke, still so young and unruly, would turn the week into a nightmare of anxiety, this being his first real trip in my truck, his first time away from the apartment, and his only time out of the city. I unpacked as Luke sniffed his way around the cabin, stopping once to nibble a wooden drawer handle. Leash attached, we stepped outside for our first walk in the woods, starting down the hill and through the trees. He pulled me hard, making it impossible to walk without tripping over the roots and branches which stuck up everywhere on the footpath. Then I stopped us. In the complete silence of the pines, where I had always found comfort, I took a deep breath and a big leap of faith, unclipping the leash from his collar. The wild little beast could feel his sudden freedom from the tether, and he took off running as fast as he could, his back legs flying in the air behind him. He got to the twist in the trail and I wondered if I would ever see him again. But he stopped. He turned, looked ahead, then back at me. He thought for a moment, then faced me and stood firm. We locked eyes. He didn’t move. I walked toward him, closing the distance and up to him, patting his head gently. “Go!” I said affectionately, with excitement, and he turned and ran ahead another hundred yards, before stopping again to face me. That’s when we both realized how much we needed each other. I knew that I was his, and he was mine, and we would begin a new life together.


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