When we brought Dorian home for the first night, I had trouble deciphering who was more frightened in our group, him or Maura or me. Motherhood is not something to take lightly, and responsibility hung thick in the apartment, having now been prepped and readied for our new Dachshund puppy. And there was no way of predicting that this little lopsided walking dog log would be such a catalyst for the monumental change coming, and the inevitable damage that followed.
After peeing everywhere but his designated training pad, Dorian slept smoothly the first night through, nestled softly between Maura’s inner thighs, bleating. I think Maura cried a little too.
For the next two weeks, Dorian was a phantom in the house. I would search under tables and chairs and couch cushions with little success. And when he was finally found, like a bird from an open cage, he would bolt away into the bedroom closet, hopping up one shelving tier, laying shaking, scared, and immobile atop Maura’s sweater pile. “What a pathetic mess.” I would stand there, hands to hips, watching this tiny Dachshund make a god damned fool of himself, probably as well, pissing on my favorite hoodie.
Eventually, we became buddies. I would steal his pink rubber toy, vaguely moist with odorless saliva, and we’d chase each other about the house. Dropping to the floor I could hide my head in my knees and he would bury the sharp edge of his nose into the flank my thigh, searching for a face to commence licking, like he would some instinctual badger meant to be snoop out of some hole. I loved him. His little body, his little quirks. In the morning he could be found at my feet on the shower floor, soaking wet and shaking, but just wanting to be near me. ”It’s alright buddy,” I would tell him, and I would mean it completely. I have, in my life, been on the shower floor in such a way over people too.
Maura never took my last name after the marriage. I still do not know why. Like little foreboding clues of our future I guess, fate is a juggernaut when it runs, and in marriage it is always running towards you, instead of away. When we fought, she took to slinging her wedding ring at me from across the hardwood room, screaming. I once had wine thrown in my face. Frightening fights from frightening people, that is, the type of people we became around one another. She would drink to yell at me; I would drink to not listen. The juggernaut grew near. Sometimes she would say, “When I leave you, I’m taking the dog, just so you’re not surprised when I do. He’s mine, ya know.” The words would roll from her mouth so casually, as if, packed up in moving boxes within herself, there she already lay, along side her heart and her possessions, so far away from my needs.
I do not have a child, but there in Dorian I started to understand the love of small things that are able to love you back. Dorian was strong, and independent, never requiring the leash. But in him there was tenderness too, a codependency I recognized within myself. A need of touch, of love’s daily bread- the promise of I Do, without the anxiety of it. And as Maura and I drifted, we both saught solice in this little Dachshund, who’s simplicity and child like love could never imagine dividing himself in half over us, as Maura and I ourselves did.
I miss Dorian. I miss having a dog. Simply that. I miss having that routine example of what love might be like without fear, without greed, without even a scrap of remorse. A love willing to go dripping wet and sopping into whatever world as long as it keeps them near.