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Taking Care of Me
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Most importantly, Mabel gave me a routine, something important that I had to do each day. I couldn’t just lock myself away and pout, I had a dog to walk. I couldn’t go out and drink myself into oblivion, I had a dog to go home to and let out. And I couldn’t cry myself to sleep each night, because every time I tried, Mabel would lick my face, tickling me until I begrudgingly giggled.

And, of course, as I already mentioned, when I was at my lowest, she let me dress her up in that god-awful wedding veil. What more could a girl ask from a dog? Only the truest friend would suffer that kind of humiliation. My husband’s deployment was not easy to endure, but Mabel helped me to carry on more than I ever imagined. What I worried would be too cumbersome to bear ended up being one of my greatest joys.

My husband was deployed again recently. Not for another year, thankfully—though that is probably in our future—but for several weeks on a training exercise. As I complained to a friend about his departure, she commiserated, and said, “And having to take care of the dog all by yourself, too, what an inconvenience!”

I was about to agree for the sake of exacting a bit more sympathy when a photo of Mabel caught my eye. In it, she’s wearing that dreadful wedding veil, gazing up at me with a look of unconditional love and sympathy. A sense of relief came over me as I realized that I wouldn’t be facing my husband’s absences alone. In fact, I never had.

“Actually,” I replied with a smile, “She’ll be taking care of me.”

 

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 40: Jan/Feb 2007
Kayt Sukel has contributed articles, essays and book reviews to the Washington Post, USAToday, the Christian Science Monitor; JIVE magazine, and National Geographic Magazine. kaytsukel.typepad.com
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