We hosted a surprise birthday party for my son Dan this weekend. He'll be thirty years old in early December. Oh man, those first labor pains as I was digging into my cream of wheat seem like yesterday.
Tasha will turn 17 around the same time, which means she's been with us for more than half of Dan's life. He was still in middle school when we picked her up from the pound and discovered in days what a frenetic nuisance she was. She stole sports equipment, hats, and jackets from all over the neighborhood, requiring us to install an electronic fence. She got locked in Leah's room accidentally and chewed through the door. She was not a crowd favorite, to be sure. In fact, our neighbors missed us but not Tasha when we moved
Dan was sixteen when we moved to this property. He and his friends loved playing paintball in the woods. Tasha loved the freedom to roam, and took on the responsibility of guarding the property. She could hear the UPS truck a quarter-mile away and, if I didn't grab her, she'd run down the driveway to face off against it. Both Dan and Leah had less animosity with the dog in those days because she wasn't embarassing them with their friends. She did, however, make every attempt to sleep on their beds while they were at school.
When Dan went into the army after high school, his relationship with Tasha changed dramatically. She was the first to greet him whenever he came to visit, and become his touchstone for home. Dan left the army, entered college, got married to a lovely gal named Jamie. Jamie took over the role of caretaker for Tasha whenever we traveled. She would move into our house, walk Tasha early in the morning, reassure Tasha at nighttime when she prowled the house, wondering where we had gone.
Dan and Jamie lived with us for awhile during her pregnancy and after my grandson was born. Tasha was old by then (13), at least in dog terms. She had no interest in the baby until he started eating solids--then she became his best friend.
The family moved out, stayed close enough to vist. Dan's constant refrain was "oh, Tasha looks bad. She's really going downhill."
Yesterday when he saw her, his comment was, "Wow, she looks great! What's going on?"
My son may be getting old but Tasha and I just keep poundin' the path and telling God how good He's been to us. Aged or not, Dan has been a blessing to Steve and me, and even to the frenetic, annoying dog he grew up with.
TOMORROW: Meet Kay Day and her "Red Heeler" (yes, that's a breed) Skittles