Photo by Emily Long
I met Bruiser in 2006. It was not by choice. My sister and her then boyfriend had adopted an AKC-registered American Pit Bull Terrier. Solely relying on hearsay, I questioned her decision to take a dog of such an “aggressive breed” home with her. Then just a few months later (with their relationship on the rocks), my sister asked if I could watch Bruiser for two weeks. “Two weeks,” she promised, “while we find him a better home.” Though I was agitated, I complied. “She’s my sister,” I thought. “I would do anything for her.” And that I did. But soon, two weeks became seven-and-a-half years. And here he is, Bruce (more maturely named now), sitting under my feet as I write this.
In our years together, Bruce has been the most loyal male counterpart I have had. He has moved to four different states up and down the East coast with me. He has vacationed with good friends for months on end while I searched diligently for an acceptable place for he and I to live. And through all of this commotion, he has never complained (if only dogs could talk). Sure, he sighs when he sees me intrigued by an article online while the sun is shining outside, but he serves as my constant reminder to go out and smell the roses once in awhile. Not to mention, he has his way of telling me who I should and shouldn’t date.
Because of the non-judgemental love he has for me, I have shown him the same by fighting for his misunderstood breed. Every. Single. Day. Who said a dog is man’s best friend? A dog can be a woman’s best friend, too. And I have found that I have become a better daughter, a better sister and a better friend as a result of Bruce.
My mom and I have always been close. But now, as the years quickly roll by I am finally recognizing the unconditional love she has always had for me. I now know that mom “always knows best,” because when the truth unfolds, you will always hear (whether she actually says it or not), “I told you so.” I never want to disappoint her, because as she grows older, I only want her closer to my heart before old age ails her. She has known me longer than any other human being in this world, and has ridden through the triumphs and tribulations of my life with zero judgements. There is no love like your mother’s. None.
Siblings can sometimes be your unchosen friends. I remember the time I almost bit off my sister’s ear lobe after she tried to punch me in the face. Of course that was when our ages were in the single digits. Now, we are the best of friends. My sister is the person I seek advice from before going to the rest of the family. And though she is five years younger, she is sure as heck more mature than me, and I know there is a lot I can learn from her. Just recently, I had the privilege of spending a non-stop 9 days with her in Southern California. After years, we finally had pure sister time. When I left from San Diego airport, we were both sobbing, and shared the most heartfelt hug I had ever felt between us. It was the most emotion I had felt in longer than I can even remember. By golly, it felt like the act of true love hug in the movie “Frozen,” even. “Do you want to build a snowman?” No, I don’t, because I loathe snow.
And then there are your friends. These are your chosen ones. They may not be family by blood, but family out of the pure closeness of your heart. Friends come. They go. And some come back. Every person that I have ever considered a friend in my lifetime, mostly in the last few years of my life, has had some type of positive impact in my life. My friends have truly helped shape who I am today, and I’m thankful for these. Because truly, those you spend the most time with are a reflection of who you are, too. Thinking about my past and what has gotten me through many of the obstacles I have had to hop in the last few years, I couldn’t have done it without my friends. The four girlfriends on Sex and the City got nothing on the relationships that have made me the stronger me I am today.
So while I am taking the time to figure out how to become that better daughter, sister and friend, Bruce and I will just hang out until a cool cat comes along. And I’ll know. Because he’ll always tell me in his own way.