Posted in The Tough Stuff

My Best Love

A few years ago, I was in a pretty rough place. Separated from my husband, I had moved in with a man I loved. {Bear with me, actual “love” at that time was something with which I clearly did not have an intimate relationship.} The only preparation I made to move in with him was to pick out the cutest puppy from a litter of rottweiler-cocker spaniel puppies and take her home. And from that moment forward, Piper has owned my heart.

This guy I loved back then could be kind, generous and so transparent with his feelings for me, and he told me all the time how much I meant to him. That was something that was very important to me then; I’d just been left by the only person who’d ever promised to love me forever. This guy could also go into rages, yell, punch holes in our walls, and he kept a gun handy in our bedroom closet.

It was tense and sometimes scar to be at home. We fought a lot. Lucky for me, though, I worked two jobs and was rarely there. But my puppy, my dear Piper was stuck there all the time. There was a day I worked a long Saturday at Ann Taylor during which “dream guy” documented the entire day that Piper spent staring at the front door waiting for my return. She was also only a month old when I caught her following a very rare accident in the living room frantically eating her own shit to avoid his punishment. I was familiar with his punishments. I understood her life wasn’t so easy there either.

There were nights after massive fights that I would lock myself in the guest room and he would yell and scream and plead himself to sleep in the hallway. When all was finally quiet, I would tiptoe downstairs to snatch Piper from her kennel and carry her safely to bed with me. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he would hurt her – or worse – to punish me.

I wanted to be anywhere but in his house, but I was so scared to face him with an announcement I was leaving. I was also poor. So, while I tried to plan my next move, I would sit with Piper on our deck, hug her tight and promise her I was going to get her out of there. Every night. For months.

In my heart, though, I was doubtful I could actually make it happen. An escape from my life was all I prayed for. Every day, every thing I had to do to survive and make ends meet was a horror. I wanted to be dead. I told lies to keep him happy. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I saw myself too weak to be alone, and clearly unworthy of love. I couldn’t even bring myself to be angry anymore; I was resigned. I’ve written about this time in my life before – it was then that I was also starving myself in an effort to fade away.


Every night I came home and squeezed my puppy. She loved me so much. She would crawl right into my arms and would look me in the eyes. She needed me to be okay so I could save her. I loved her. I needed to save her. I wouldn’t have saved myself. She is the reason I made a plan to leave that house, and a plan to leave that relationship. It was a fight for months, but she was more than worth it.

I still tell her every day that she is my best love. Hers is the most redemptive love I’ve ever known, and I thank God every day that she is mine.

Spirit or Power Animals have been Shaman legend for ages. I like the theory, probably because I like animals more than most people. The term “spirit animal” kind of weirds me out, but what the hell, it’s popular lately. My favorite definition is from Urban Dictionary, and it totally applies:

“In pagan religions and systems, a spirit animal is meant to be a representation of the traits and skills that you are supposed to learn or have. Saying something or someone is your spirit animal is a statement that said person or thing is a representation of you or what you want to be.”

Piper is gentle, generous with her affection, intuitive and brave. It would be the greatest honor to be more like her. She’s done her job; she’s already saved me.


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