On Crying & Dog-Birthdays

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Our darling boy.

Okay, this is going to be a little bit about the wedding again, but I swear it’s really about how it’s CHARLIE’S FOURTH BIRTHDAY!!! (Aka 6 months since we adopted Charlie from the shelter.)

In case you’re wondering, shelters guess a dog’s age by looking at their teeth (as far as we’ve read). For whatever reason, Charlie’s teeth made him look 3.5 years old. So the day we adopted him and took him to a vet, his official birthday became June 30th.

One thing I completely forgot to mention re: the wedding was whether or not I (the world’s most crying-est person) cried. The surprising conclusion was — I did NOT! (Okay, this is not completely surprising because I was too shocked to cry when we got engaged. But it was SOMEWHAT surprising.)

A few possible explanations:

I wanted to protect my makeup. (BTW — I asked endless questions about how to deal with tears and eyedrops, and in the end I didn’t have to deal with either situation!) (I have custom contacts and they tend to make my eyes really dry, but they behaved.)

I once read this Jezebel piece asking if people cried, and one girl talked about someone who sobbed so hard it seemed like her parents were actually forcing her into an old-fashioned business-arrangement marriage. So I didn’t want to seem like THAT.

But the big one is that Sam has NEVER cried in front of me, and I was expecting him to really let it all out. In fact, I got him a sentimental, personalized, Charlie-dog handkerchief to dry his tears.

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Sob away, Sam!

When I read Sam’s gift-exchange letter aloud to the videographer before the wedding, I cracked ever-so-slightly, then took a deep breath and recovered. It was probably at that moment that I realized that unless Sam cried, I probably would not.

And then… Sam didn’t cry at the first look.

And then… Sam didn’t cry at the ceremony, but he sounded like he was sniffling. I kept pointing at him and giggling like, a-HA! You WILL cry! Gotcha! (Later, he said it was actually congestion… the world may never know.)

Every time I pictured our ceremony BEFORE the actual day, I would cry big, sentimental tears. I cried them in the car when I heard a song that could be a good first-dance song. I cried when we were picking processional songs, and then quickly decided to go for one that wouldn’t be a definite tear-trigger. I cried a lot.

But, as my friends described it to me last night, I was giddy coming down the aisle. I was sleep deprived, we’d already taken so many pictures that I joked that we could probably all go home and feel good about ourselves — but whoops, we hadn’t HAD A WEDDING yet.

Also, the whole thing kinda feels like a play. And as people who have done theater/improv before, I think Sam and I felt really pumped, like we were hitting our cues and it was all going smoothly. Like, the opposite of those forgot-my-lines nightmares. Like, a very surreal but successful dream.

So we were all laughs and smiles, and in one picture that I saw on Facebook I’m laughing in such a way that I look simultaneously cute and like all of my veins are about to explode.

Even my parents, who sobbed their way through my bat mitzvah and were prepared to cry major tears, also reported being relatively dry-eyed, which may or may not have to do with their involvement in the “play.” (They walked me in and stood behind me through the kiddush.)

What does that have to do with Charlie?

Well, I thought that perhaps my cryingest-girl-in-the-world days were over, but NO — I think my tears have migrated over to the dog-lover part of my brain, because the one thing that really gets me now is anything dog-related.

Some evidence:

We went to a fundraiser for an organization that helps people who would otherwise have to surrender their dogs to the shelter. I cried reading the pamphlet, during a joke Sarah Silverman told about dogs aging that was building up to a funny punchline, and during an informational video that gave THE SAME INFO from the pamphlet (except I cried harder the second time — like, I probably snotted onto Diane Keaton, who was sitting two rows in front of us).

The Secret Life of Pets trailer made me sob. Also, if I see the print ads, I cry a little. (The idea of a dog getting out and getting mistakenly sent to the shelter is too real!)

I still cry if I think too hard about the movie Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, even though I know that old dog doesn’t die at the train station (or wherever he fell into that ditch).

I almost fucking lost it at the new vet’s office, because let’s face it — it’s all fun and games at the vet until it’s not.

Often when Sam and I are cuddling with Charlie, we agree that he makes us feel happy-sad… he’s such a bundle of joy and light, and yet we know that he’s already FOUR YEARS OLD, and dog-life is particularly finite. (This is what Sarah Silverman’s joke was about, until the VERY DARK funny punchline.)

So if ANYTHING is going to make Sam cry, it’s probably Charlie.

Okay, I lied though. I have seen Sam cry — from laughing too hard at a Patton Oswalt track, during a road trip. Actually, two tracks. We almost had to pull over. (HIGHLY recommend listening to comedy during road trips.)

My parents watched Charlie while we were on our honeymoon, and my mom commented, “Charlie is not like Daisy [my parents’ dog] — he’s like a child!”

I think she said that because Charlie always wants to be right in our business, but that’s okay because he’s our favorite little beast and the best cuddle-companion for any situation, from napping to dining al fresco.

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Charlie at the local hipster lobster shack. Rags to riches!

Because he is our little man-child, I will make like a parent and list some of Charlie’s milestones.

First, he went from having no name (the one the shelter gave him was arbitrary) to having a very fancy official name (Charles Ferdinand Cherington the First) and about 500 nicknames, along with many new words invented in his honor. He’s our whole vocabulary.

We are VERY proud that Charlie is kind of a health nut. His favorite human foods (and the only ones we allow him to eat) are melon, strawberries, and carrots. He is particularly obsessed with strawberries and watermelon. Which makes sense, because red is his signature color. (The shelter sent him home with a red collar, leash, shirt, and blanket.)

The one thing that Charlie was MOST obsessed with trying to eat that he just couldn’t have was my leftovers from Knead Pasta Bar at Grand Central Market. I have never seen him freak out that much over anything, before or after. That’s a great compliment to their pasta. Haha.

While he still enjoys being rocked in our arms like a “cradle baby,” Charlie cycles through all phases from baby to adult child. Sometimes he’s a rebellious teen who just wants to go sleep in his OWN BED in the other room because we’re embarrassing him.

On a saddish note, when we first got Charlie I worried a lot that he possibly had an owner out there looking for him. But the longer we’ve had him, the more it’s clear that he was probably in an abusive situation, before he became a stray. So… I don’t wonder about THAT anymore, but I do wonder a lot about Charlie’s history in general. Even though I’m sure it would make me cry.

(Also, we recently found out that a rescue we were interested in using at one point was actually “flipping” dogs for profit… like, giving away dogs before an owner could be located. Among other bad things. So I’m glad we didn’t go there… although now I’ll always wonder what became of Jukebox, the dog they had for sale at one point.)

Charlie is much more playful at the park since getting his short haircut, and even let a man pet him yesterday. Typically he’s fearful of men, so that was really cool! (Also, we met a man at the park yesterday who has a food destination picked out for himself, for every different park or beach where he takes his dogs to play. That man is my hero now.)

And most importantly, you can’t even really tell which of his legs was nearly torn off by a (probable) coyote. He’s a little stiff, but other than that he’s a real mover and shaker. (And if he’s very stiff when he’s old, he will get a sweet set of wheels.)

Sam wanted to get Charlie a special dog birthday cake, but instead we went low-key (this time) and ordered him a cake plush off Amazon, which will hopefully arrive today. But if it arrives tomorrow… hey, I think Charlie should treat every day like his birthday. Any day could be!

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