After a 14-year relationship, which ended in an amicable divorce, I found myself in my early 30s and newly single again. It was liberating. Freeing. Fun. Don't get me wrong, I was sad about the failure of my marriage, but we started dating when we were teenagers. I was looking forward to the excitement of romance without having to sneak out the bedroom window because of a curfew. But there was also a little issue when it came to dating — my Siberian Husky, Dakota.
Dakota is her mommy's girl and a sweet blessing. I welcome the quiet nights when she lies on the floor next to me as I work away, and I absolutely love when she wants morning snuggle time before I get out of bed. But she is also a lot of work. She needs lots of exercise, stimulation, and attention, as Huskies do. In the aftermath of my divorce, I didn't anticipate that she wouldn't take kindly to a man that was not her dad. And I didn't anticipate that not every man would warm to her, or even like her. Until one did.
By the time I met him, I'd already been through some traumatic dating experiences with my dog. Constant howling outside the bedroom door while I was . . . busy. Men who met her and told me she was too much, too high-maintenance. There was even one man who she would not let sit down, like she knew he wasn't right for me.
I'm sure the first night I brought him to my place, I prepped him. I probably said something like, "She's a jumper and a handful, but very sweet, just to prepare you." But he didn't need preparing. He walked right through the door and knew just what to do. He spent time greeting her, petting her, letting her sniff him, and giving her loads of attention. She liked him from the very beginning. After a few months, she was smitten. And, it turns out, so was I.
One cold night in January, after making hot chocolate — something we do on late nights in the Winter — I was already feeling a bit mushy. As I left the kitchen, I saw him on the couch with his hot chocolate in one hand, petting Dakota (who had helped herself to my seat next to him) with the other. She looked so happy and content. He looked over at me and smiled. And that was the moment I realized that I had been fighting my real feelings for this man for a long time and that I was, indeed, in love.
Now, she waits at the door when I tell her he is coming. She gets herself between him and me on the couch so she can have his attention. She brings him treats as little love tokens and eagerly drops toys into his lap for tug of war or fetch. All the while, he gives her whatever amount of attention she wants and never complains.
Watching him with my dog warms my heart. And even when she's a terror, I know that he gets it. It doesn't make me anxious or embarrassed, as it did with others. To be honest, without her, I'm not sure I would have ever allowed myself to fall in love with him as fully and completely as I have. But I'm glad she helped me get there. He is worth it — to both of us.