I did not get you a birthday present. It's not because I don't care. It's only because you are a dog. Nevertheless, I'd still like to celebrate you, like I always do, in a way that you will probably never be aware of. By telling others about your daily triumphs, I hope to do some justice to your two short years of life.
Most "fourteen" year-olds would be dismayed if their "parents" did not have a party or some acknowledgement of their progression into the next stage of life. But when my family asked me if you were sad that we didn't have your birthday party, I said "No, he didn't even miss it. Because he's a dog." And my response was more appreciative than sarcastic. I really do enjoy having a creature in my family who's impressed more by the little things in life than by extravagant displays of emotion.
Case in point, the day after your birthday I came home from work to spend my night in your good company. And like any day, you were anxiously waiting my arrival. With little fan fare, I said hello and let you out to the backyard to take care of your business. And just like you, I'm on a schedule as well. I imagined you'd be fine while I spent a few minutes of alone time in the bathroom. But you had other plans.
Maybe you did realize you missed out on a special birthday celebration and decided you'd award yourself that extra treat. Because while I read through a magazine, I heard a loud crash down the hall. In no rush, I thought "what's the worst he could be getting into?" What does a dog really desire the most? You know the stray cats and wild squirrels outside move fast and are off limits. You know that on most days you'll get a trip to the park in which to expend your puppy like energy. But you also know of a delicacy which has been expressly forbidden to you. Sure, you've hastily enjoyed it on rare occasion in greedy, secret bites. Each time it has been different, but it has never disappointed. And though each time you've been scolded and skulk guiltily away, you cannot resist the temptation of people food in all its forms.
As I left my sanctuary and went to investigate, I thought for sure you must be knocking things over because you are rambunctious. I silently accepted the hour of housework or relaxation that I would lose to take you out for exercise on this rainy Monday. Since you've come in to my home, I've resigned myself to this sacrifice because I know it gives you much joy and brings peace to my evenings. But today's destruction was not fueled by any normal excess of doggy energy. No, curiosity and hunger for the unknown were the sole factors in your decision to take down the forbidden foodstuffs.
Like Ron Burgundy, I wasn't even mad. I was impressed. Not only did you manage to open a can of Campbell's tomato soup, you ate it all. You even chose the heart healthy low-sodium variety. And as you tried to lick away the incriminating stains on the rug, I almost heard you say that it was "Mmm, mmm good." Well, happy birthday, best friend. There are no lectures or angry throat noises from me today. To the victor, go the spoils. You can have your soup and eat it too. And as I watched you march downstairs to wash this salty appetizer down, I was even more impressed with how you followed it up with a full bowl of dog food.
Later, in the evening as I did my laundry and relaxed on the couch, I realized you weren't around begging for your evening walk. Don't think this welcome reprieve from my pet owner responsibilities went unnoticed. Perhaps you offered this nice gesture in thanks for the delicious, room temperature tomato soup. Perhaps, we really are best friends and this is just two buddies looking out for each other. In any event, I think we both learned a valuable lesson tonight. Myself, I learned that dogs deserve birthdays too. And although you can't communicate it perfectly, I can tell what you learned by your pained smile and the way you are lying supinely nursing your bloated belly. The dry bits of cornmeal, chicken and other dried animal bi-products floating in an acidic, tomato flavored broth in your stomach must've finally taught you that sometimes people food really is just for people.