I knew we were outed two years ago when kind neighbors appeared in the yard toting gift bags filled with dog treats just as we were belting out "Happy Birthday to Youuuu!" Howling canines might have sounded better. Normally the guest list's limited to immediate family, but has occasionally expanded to include elected officials. Others have attended from overseas via Skype.
This year I didn't bother to make excuses upon leaving the office before rush hour for the dog's annual birthday bash. Only a few eye rolls.
Ralph cares more about licking the cupcake than listening to the chorus. His pointed hat pitches sideways every few minutes. It's more a chance to underscore appreciation for a little fellow who gives far more than he requires. And to have a party in July!
Why not celebrate the little guy? Every greeting at the door is a sincere welcome, even if it's after taking out the trash. Who else is eternally happy to see anyone? Never have to make conversation, but always a great listener, a dog's the most companionable creature alive.
No car ride is too short or boring. No scrap on the floor is inedible. No game of fetch is tiring. Dinner takes five seconds, and water is the drink of choice. He never leaves a thing on his plate. Anyone with a sandwich in hand is spellbinding.
This year was tough, but our pup was right there. Trotting into the intensive care unit and later into the stroke rehab ward, charming the nurses and bringing a bit of joy and comfort to not only the patient, but to everyone else in that room. He was there at the end, and he was there curling up at night against my father's back during those first lonely nights.
So, it's the least we can do to take an evening to celebrate his birth, or "whelp" as indicated on his official record. A part of our family. Something none of us could have predicted walking out of that pet store.
Do dogs "love" like we do? Certainly not. Ralph would ditch me in a second for a bushy tailed squirrel or a wayward meatball. Are they loyal, and do they have an inate ability to connect provided there are no major distractions? Certainly!
Well, that's certainly enough reason to celebrate his entry into our hectic lives.
It's certainly a good enough reason for a party!