I’m a shameless animal lover. Animal lovers of the world unite…. So, back in 2004, right after becoming a newlywed, it seemed perfectly reasonable to bring home a pedigreed German Shepherd as a means of completing our little family. A couple of months later, we brought her a boyfriend German Shepherd and so began the life and times of Alli and Harley.
Alli was my best friend, and ironically so, the thorn in my side. She peed if you looked at her funny. She chewed up any and everything she could get her snow-white teeth on. She attacked any animal that moved. There was no medical issue she didn’t encounter and the emergency vets knew me by name. A simple trip to swim in the bay could turn into a $500 lung pumping in just a couple of hours. Most frustrating about Alli? She had a nervous tick that made her chase her tail…ALL DAY…EVERY DAY. Against walls, against furniture, against me. When she had puppies she would still spin, all 7 attached and nursing. After the initial cuteness of her hobby wore off and there was no hair left on her tail, I made frantic calls to vets, specialists, shrinks…both for her and for me. They tried every mood-altering drug under the sun, therapy fit for the clinically insane. When the Prozac wouldn’t work on her, I begged for a dose of my own. She spun herself into full-blown hip dysplasia and didn’t seem to mind limping and spinning all at the same time.
I adored Alli. She was my girl before I had a little girl. And there were tender moments where she would stop the spinning at the end of the day, curl all 80lbs into my lap, and she would finally rest. She’d take that giant tongue and clean all the day’s anger and frustration away in one lick. She was 3 gallons of crazy in a 2-gallon bucket, and she was mine.
Now here’s the part where you might think I fell off the deep end with my dog-I don’t think Alli’s life is so far from where many women stand in real life. There are days, when professionally and personally, I feel like I am chasing my own tail, spinning in circles, trying to find the solution that fits without ever actually accomplishing anything. I’m in a constant tailspin for all the right reasons. I’m motivated, I’m ambitious, I genuinely want to change the world. In order to finally put action behind my cause, I might have to rest every once in a while, take a step back, and figure out my direction.
For those of us like Alli, it’s a little bit easier said than done. I’m terrible at relaxing, I loathe having to be in one place for long, I don’t like feeling mediocre. But wouldn’t you know, my best thinking, inspiration, and motivation comes when I am driving–I have a finite destination and I can’t exactly escape when the tires are spinning instead of me. It’s the time when I am finally still, I’ve shut up just long enough to let my mind and my heart do some talking.
I got 6 short years with Alli. Because the Army has other plans for my husband, he wasn’t around much during her life, so it was her and I against the world. In 2010, when it looked like a brain tumor was taking over her mind and her ability to have any semblance of peace, I put on the biggest pair of big-girl panties I own and I let her rest. For a girl who would rather laugh through anything than cry, Alli turned me into a sobbing baby for days, probably weeks. Some days, when I’m feeling more like a space cadet than others, the sound of nail-tapping and slamming into walls would be music to my ears.
Spinning or not, she still teaches me while I navigate the crazy, all while feeling crazy. She reminds me to rest, take a breath, and the rest will come. At some point on my journey, she’ll get her tribute in her own book dedicated to tailspinners everywhere.
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