Thank you for the privilege of picking up your poop


Dear Dog:

Thank you for barking your head off when people come to the door. Such a soothing sound.

Thank you for that time you ate a steel wool pad when we left the cabinet below the kitchen sink open for two seconds. Such a special discovery to see your muzzle covered in purple foam. We loved going to the vet that time. A gift.

Thank you for the teeth cleaning where they had to sedate you, and the surgeries, and the medications you’ve needed. I relish going to the pharmacy. I am so glad they know me well. And we are especially thankful that although we do not have a child we have managed to pay the equivalent of college tuition for your medical care. So blessed are we.

We appreciate the socks you chewed, the doors you scratched, the crate you clawed through. We love fixing things, or replacing them. 

Thank you for hating bath time even though you are a water dog. 

A special thank you for those times you won’t come inside even when I call your name multiple times. I appreciate your ignoring me. Truly.

Thank you for specializing in finding cat poop. 

Thank you for waking me up at night. My already difficult sleep needed a little extra help with keeping me wide-eyed. Because who needs sleep? Not I.

But I really mean it when I say:

Thank you for walking with me multiple times a day when I know you don’t want to. 

Thank you for greeting me with your tail wagging when I come home as if I have been gone for a decade even when it’s been ten minutes. I don’t have a tail, but if I did, I would wag it because I am always just as happy to see you.

Thank you for keeping me company 24 hours a day and for giving me someone to talk to, other than myself, when the rest of the household is away.

Thanks for playing hide-and-seek—for knowing how to play it, for wanting to play it, and for letting me think I only do it for your entertainment.

Thanks for coming over to me when I cry, even when you are in another room (except that one time when I started crying and you left the room, but that’s fair—sometimes I get tired of me, too).

Thank you for barking your head off when strangers come to my door. Well, you bark your head off with everyone, but it’s okay. I feel safer with you.

Thank you for teaching me (or trying) to be more patient. And for helping me understand again that love isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it.

Thank you for still loving me when I make mistakes.

Thank you for being my best entertainment, my favorite comedy act, my puzzle to figure out, the bearer of the brunt of all my maternal instincts (for letting me hold you like a baby), and thank you for never tiring of me because I never tire of you, even on our hard days.

Thank you for making my heart grow a whole other room that I didn’t think was possible. You are the builder, and you are the room. It just keeps getting bigger.

Shuly Xóchitl Cawood is a author who teaches workshops in memoir and personal essay writing. Her latest book is Trouble Can Be So Beautiful at the Beginning: poems.


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