It was a Wednesday. The air was hot and thick in Fairbanks that summer, and the sun did set but we were never awake to see it.
We had planned to meet at the Fairbanks Animal Shelter that evening. Derek and I had made two other trips there without feeling any certainty about a pet beyond being certainly overwhelmed.
I got there early, and Derek was held up at work. I anxiously sat on a bench chewing my fingernails, watching the clock tick. The shelter closed at 6, and it was 5:15. Finally I couldn’t stand sitting anymore, so I paced around the lobby and then told myself I’d go look at the dogs they had available.
I walked out back to the outdoor cages. As I stepped outside a little black dog in his cage ran to the side nearest where I was and looked right at me. He was the only one who did that. All the other dogs kept barking or running in circles or lying down, but he kept looking at me, his head cocked and ears flopping. I walked over to his cage. Craig. I’d seen him on the website before, but was hesitant because of his husky lineage. He kept looking at me with those big brown eyes, his little tail wagging.
I went back to the lobby and Derek rushed in.
“We have to visit Craig,” I urged him.
I ran to the receptionist and asked if we could do a visit with him. “I’m so sorry. We close at 6, but the visiting hours ended just now at 5:30.” I started to walk away, and then another employee ran up to us.
“Let them visit him!” She said. “She was waiting so patiently for her husband!”
We were ushered into the visiting room where Craig was brought in to meet us. He walked in and promptly placed his chin on my knee, looking right at me again. My heart sunk into a puddle, one that has only been mildly less puddly since then for brief periods of time due to incidents of obstinance.
I looked over at Derek who just nodded. We knew. We also immediately changed his name to Mac, a nod to Macbeth, a favorite Shakespeare play of ours.
I was never really a dog person growing up, and even in college I was afraid of dogs for a while. But once we got married and I realized how much Derek would be gone for Army things I really wanted a companion. Mac is wonderful. He’s not perfect, but he doesn’t need to be.
One of my favorite poets, Taylor Mali, has a poem called “How Falling In Love is Like Owning A Dog.” Here is the full text. This quote finally made sense to me after I made eye contact with the little black dog in the outdoor pen.
Sometimes love just wants to go out for a nice long walk.
Because love loves exercise. It will run you around the block
and leave you panting, breathless. Pull you in different directions
at once, or wind itself around and around you
until you’re all wound up and you cannot move.
Throw things away and love will bring them back,
again, and again, and again.
But most of all, love needs love, lots of it.
And in return, love loves you and never stops.
It has been one year of Mac Minkus, of love loving and never stopping.
Photo credit: Bailey Crowe.