I'm obsessed with my mastiff and don't care who knows it
In truth, my obsession with Henry, my five-year-old American mastiff, didn't start as an obsession.
It started with a whole lot of anger, frustration, and maybe even a dash of self-proclaimed hate.
Rewind to 2013. My husband and I had just bought a brand new house, and I had started my first permanent teaching job at a junior high school. Things were crazy hectic. So what did my loving husband of almost two years decide to do?
Buy a dog. And not just any dog. A mastiff.
I'm a huge animal lover, and it's true, Mudge from the Henry and Mudge series had always been my dream dog. But just not at that point in life. Not with moving boxes still fresh and lesson plans needing done and a whole ball of stress to deal with.
Still, after some divorce-level fights and tears, two weeks after moving into our new house, Henry, our twenty-four pound, eight-week-old mastiff moved in.
And I hated him.
I hated the way he pulled on my sweatpants when I was trying to do work. I hated his constant chewing of my shoes, his wild behaviors, and his out-of-control playing every day when I got home from school.
I didn't love him. I would never love him, I vowed, especially on the day he peed all over me when I decided to be nice and give holding him a try.
However, as dogs often do, Henry wormed his way into my heart. He thawed the protective ice I had layered around my heart and became what so many dogs do: everything.
My Fur Mama Status
At 30, I've been married for seven years this fall... but my husband and I don't have any children, at least of the human variety.
Still, in many ways, we do have a four-legged child.
It's true. Once Henry wormed his way in, he didn't just steal my heart... he owned it.
I've read several articles about how many millennials treat their pets like children, and I can't say I disagree.In fact, an article by Adweek claims that 44% of millennials see their pets as starter children. I'm definitely in that percentage.
I've been known to turn town trips because I don't trust anyone to keep Henry while I'm out of town, and I feel guilty for leaving him. I rush home every day to spend time with him. He's got more toys than a super spoiled child, and he has a carefully constructed social schedule to keep him happy.
My time, my money, and my energy is devoted to putting his happiness first. And yes, I'll admit, I'm absolutely obsessed with the 170-pound dog who has overtaken my couch and my life.
Here's the thing: Some people may think it's crazy to put so much energy and love into a dog, but I don't care. I'm not ashamed to admit that my mastiff has my whole heart or that my love runs deep for him.
If you're a dog lover yourself, you get it. There's just something about the love between a person and a dog that is inexplicable.
It's the kind of unconditional love so many of us spend our lives searching for. It's the love that shows me what really matters in life.
Henry reminds me to put down my phone, to turn off the television, and to stop obsessing over things that don't matter like my hair, my weight, my bank account, and my social status. His joy at the simple moments like eating an ice cream cone or snuggling on the couch on a rainy day remind me of what life is really about--the connections we make, the love we feel, and the simple moments of joy we experience together.
So I will not apologize for being obsessed with my dog. I won't apologize for rushing home to spend time with my best friend or for turning down plans with you because I need to spend time with Henry.
I'm not sorry for putting Henry first in my life, right up there with the rest of my human family.
I'm not sorry for giving my whole heart to a four-legged creature who has shown me the real definition of friendship, of joy, and of living really is.
Lindsay Detwiler is a high school English teacher and a contemporary romance author. Her eleven sweet romance novels are available wherever books are sold (and Henry appears in every single one of them).
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