My Dog and My Wedding
When I was fifteen, my family adopted my first dog. He was a tiny little thing who liked to sleep on my lap. We named him Duke, and he still sleeps on my lap, even though he’s a fully grown Great Dane weighing a hundred and forty pounds.
Over the years, we’ve taught Duke a lot of tricks. There’s the normal tricks: Sit. Stay. Rollover. Shake. Come. But we also taught him how to stand on my brother Todd’s skateboard. We taught him to hide on command. And we taught him to stand on his hind legs and hug like a human. The last one was my favorite. It was such a cool feeling to have this massive, warm, furry creature embrace you. He couldn’t hold on to you, obviously, but that part didn’t matter. His hugs were the best.
When I was seventeen, I had my first date with this guy named Peter. He came to pick me up for dinner and meet my family on a Friday night. My mom answered the door while my dad held on to Duke. No matter how much we trained him, he always jumped on people. He didn’t seem to understand that he was enormous. Maybe it was our fault for teaching him that it was okay to stand up and hug people. Either way, he always wanted to meet everyone face to face. So Dad held onto him while everyone shook hands and introduced themselves.
Todd took over holding onto Duke so that Dad could shake Peter’s hand and give him that “Don’t you hurt my daughter” stare that he does so well. Todd was twelve at the time. And to this day, Todd swears it was an accident, but I think he did it on purpose. He let go of Duke. And Duke bounded across the hallway and jumped up on Peter, knocking him to the floor. It was like it happened in slow motion, Duke’s giant paws hitting Peter’s chest and slobber dripping from Duke’s jaw as he excitedly licked Peter’s chin. Peter fell back, his head hitting the wall on his way down. Dad pulled Duke off of him and everyone waited to see how Peter would react. I just knew that it was over. That this wonderful boy would run away and never come back.
But he didn’t. He didn’t run away or yell or anything. He laughed. He sat up and leaned against the wall and told Dad to let him go. Duke sat on top of Peter and licked his face while Peter laughed and scratched behind his ears. I remember laughing in relief before I sat down next to Peter and got in my fair share of dog licks.
After that, Peter took me on our first date. And last week, we got married. Duke was the ring bearer. He made it to the end of the aisle and jumped up on Peter. And we said I do with paw prints on his tux.
Wow, what an ending..