Are there any animals that have changed your life? Do you have pets? What do they mean to you?
This is Geoffrey. He’ll be 11 years old on November 17th. He weighs 2.5 pounds and sleeps most of the day. He has bad breath, a ragged pink tail, pointed brown ears, a faint swash of color on his neck, a deep love of peanut butter, and a heart of gold. We were lucky enough to find a place for our honeymoon where we could take him along. He means a lot to us. He means a lot to me.
Geoffrey was 9 months old when I got him. He has a few quirks. I’m not sure where most of them come from, as he’s a rescue dog, but they mostly manifest themselves while I’m cleaning. He’s afraid of boxes, wood floors, trash bags, furniture, blankets, sheets, pillows, and the vacuum. He’s afraid of many things—mostly white things—which is odd given the color of his coat. He especially hates it when I move apartments. But like any living thing, he has sweet mysteries and contradictions. He loves going outside, moving through space in a car, and seeing new things from the comfort of my lap. He loves sleeping on white comforters anywhere, anytime. He’s the tiniest, sweetest, most loving creature I’ve known. And he’s been my little shadow since 2003.
I don’t know if I’d be able to write to you if it weren’t for Geoffrey. It may sound like an exaggeration, but I’m not sure I’d be alive if it weren’t for him. Taking care of him gave me a reason to take care of myself several years ago through a deep bout of depression. He’s been my friend, my silent critic, and my constant companion for years. He keeps me company, even when I’m unable to see that I deserve it. He seems to love me, no matter what I do.
I recently found out Geoffrey is starting to lose his eyesight. Chihuahuas often live to be 15, 16, 17…I hope he’s still around when I’m in my 60s. But there’s some reality, some reminder to be here now when I’m close to Geoff. He’s a living memento mori of sorts. And I’m not sure how to untangle that; he’s the reason I’m alive and the reason I remember to enjoy being alive, and to celebrate his life each day too.
It was hard to write about him without picking him up, so he’s in my lap now, settling into himself quietly, eyes half open, head half up, body half asleep. He tries to pretend he isn’t tired. (I wish he would learn English so we could have a conversation about these things.) He’s drifting into a hiccuping song of dreams, closing his eyes, and wheezing into my stomach. He makes a little huff as I type. A short exhale. Snnnngggffff. Ufff gurrrgle. Sniff. He coughs lightly, allergic to everything. Probably allergic to me. Allergic to being here. I can’t give him enough love. He is an endless pit of wonder.