She was meant to be a champion. I think that’s why she was born on Super Bowl Sunday. And she really was. Not a show champion, but a champion in spirit. It was Easter Sunday, April 23, 2000 when I brought her home with me. I had no idea how much she would change my life or how much she would come to mean to me. She was 12 weeks old the day I brought her home. To that point, she was the most adorable thing I had ever seen in my life. For the moment, it was just me and her against the world. I was going through the worst time of my life at that point. I was only a couple of months out from kicking Mr. Wrong to the curb, and our divorce wasn’t even final yet. I was lost and lonely and had no idea how much she would fill the void.
As a newly living single woman, I thought long and hard about a good name for her. It seems to me there was only one name that ever seemed right and it was the name I gave her. I joked about how I needed to give her the name I chose, because who in their right mind upon trying to enter my home uninvited would continue in after hearing her frenzied barking and me calling “Justice” down? Those were my thoughts anyway. So, it was me and Justice.
As a pup, she would curl up on the pillow right next to me and sleep. She was always by my side. I learned early on she was terrified of thunderstorms. No matter how big she got though, she never realized she was too big to sit in my lap when the thunder started rolling (or any other time for that matter). That was easier when she weighed 20 pounds than it was once she hit 90! She was with me always and for as much as I comforted her through the storms in life, she comforted me far more than I ever did her.
When the time came that our little family of two would expand, Justice welcomed every new member heartily. She became our protector. She looked after and loved my husband and children more than I thought was possible for an animal. The more they loved her; the more it seemed she loved them back. My children delighted in using her as a pillow, an object to pull up to standing, a trash compactor, a friend, a comforter and so much more. Each new role she was presented with was met with patience and grace. Those were her babies, too.
I never imagined when I brought her home over 13 years ago that our relationship would develop into such a strong bond. I had no idea how just her mere presence would comfort and calm me through my own storms in life. The most poignant for me being the days following my miscarriage. She instinctively knew something was very wrong. As faithful as ever, she stayed with me every moment. She was there for me and comforted me right down to licking my tears. Losing her two days ago, well, it’s left a hole in my heart I don’t think I’ll ever really be able to fill.
I have long heard the adage, “I want to be as good a person as my dog thinks I am.” There’s so much truth to that. Honestly though, I think it’s almost a little backward. I wonder sometimes if it shouldn’t read, “I want to be as good a person as my dog is.” I know this may sound trite to a person who isn’t a big animal lover, and I recognize we can’t all be. I also know some people don’t understand the love a human can have for a dog or vice versa. That’s cool, too. Some people are animal people and some are not. Regardless of what your personal feelings are in regards to animals, it doesn’t change the fact that my dog taught many things.
Here are a few of those things:
I could probably create an endless list if I really tried. These are a few of the bigger points. I guess what all of this boils down to is simply this: It’s easy in life to get caught up in the negative. It’s easy to get stressed out. It’s easy to feel sad. It’s easy to feel lonely. It’s easy to wonder, “Why me?” If you really want it to be though, it could be just as easy to find the positive. It could be easy to let go of worry. It could be easy to be happy. It could be easy to not feel alone. It could be easy to think, “I am blessed.”
I always knew my dog was great, but I never really knew just how much my dog had taught me about “living life at 90%”. I’m really hoping as I continue through this process of self-discovery and self-improvement that I can teach others and help and inspire people. I also hope some day I’ll be as wonderful as my dog.