A Memorial Dane Memo

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Why do I like little dogs? I don’t know, but I’m definitely a little dog person.  I adore my 14 pound Westie, but if she were the size of a hamster I would adore her even more.

So last fall when my son, a lieutenant in the United States Army, told me he was seriously thinking of getting a dog I said, “Hey Buddy, just be sure to get a little dog in case someone (meaning me) has to take care of that dog should you ever be deployed.”  I couldn’t tell whether he shook his head yes or no on the other end of the call, but I was certain I made my point clear.  So he got a Great Dane.

Enter Mozzie, a fawn-colored Great Dane named after a character on a favorite TV show.  Mozzie’s father weighs 175 pounds and drinks out of the kitchen sink.  So much for getting a little dog.

This past March my son deployed to Afghanistan for the better part of a year.  He put his car in storage.  His household goods went to his roommate.  And his dog… well, his dog was another matter.

My husband gave me his own puppy dog look and said, “Oh Sally, we have to take the dog.  Don’t you think we should?” as if this were a 5 month old child who would be left at an orphanage if we didn’t agree to intervene.

“WHY SHOULD I?” I thought.  It’s not a child, it’s a dog.  If this were my son’s child I would do it in a heartbeat, but c’mon, it’s a dog.  A big dog.   And I TOLD him to get a small dog.  I TOLD him to consider all of this before bringing home Marmaduke with his drooling, shedding, and oh-look-he’s-piddling-on-the-pillow ways. Why did he have to go AMA (Against Motherly Advice) and get a small pony instead of a hamster?

As it would happen, Mozzie may be big, but he also has a big heart.  Yes, he is hairy to the point of choking my vacuum cleaner to death, but he hugs us with all his furriness every day. Yes, he takes up the entire sofa, but he scooches over to love on us whenever we join him.  Yes, he has the amazing capacity to carry an entire quart of water in his jowls from the bowl to my lap, but those floppy jowls make for adorable pictures that warm my son’s heart in Afghanistan.

As sweet as Moz is, I have asked myself “Why” a thousand times?  Why am I doing this?  My life was free of hassles. Now I care for a four-legged toddler who chews, slobbers, and toots (which, incidentally, smell like a port-a-potty on a 120 degree day).  All this craziness, thanks to my son!   And that’s when it hit me.  That’s what taking care of Mozzie is.  It is a way of giving thanks…to my son. Not just the son I raised as a boy, but the son who serves as a US Soldier. That’s what I think of when hair is sticking to my lip.  This is all for a Soldier. That Soldier just happens to be my son.

What I have given up is nothing compared to what Soldiers go through.  Deployment forces our brave men and women to give up the ability to see their friends, their family, and yes, even the pets they adore to make sure the rest of us are able to do so whenever we choose.

That is why I consider it all joy to care for my son’s Gentle Giant. I even forget that I ever had doubts about taking on this lovable loaf.  Rather, I see it as a way to give back just a little bit for a Soldier who is giving his all for me.

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