A Best Friend
If you know me personally, you know that I love dogs. Through my life, there has been a wonderful series of furry best friends: a mutt, always described as an Egyptian House Dog (apparently my mother once saw a picture of one and decided our dog was a replica), when I was growing up, a long-haire dashchund for the first years of my first marriage (the year that my husband was in Vietnam, she slept under the covers, all the way down at my feet, every night. How did she breathe?), a samoyed who was the one who didn't turn out so well (could never decide if she were stupid or very stubborn or both), then a series of Golden Retrievers. Our first Golden, Jasper, was purchased a few days after my chemotherapy concluded in 1993. I remember looking at the 8 week old puppy in my 12 year daughter's arms and wondering if he would survive me. I hoped that he would be a comfort to her if I died, and, instead, he was a crazy joy for us all for almost 11 years. Then we had Ben, a rescue dog brought up from the south, painfully thin when he arrived and with a zig zag burn scar all the way down his spine. It looked as though someone had poured acid on him; the hair there was always white against his otherwise Golden coat. He lived only two years with us, dying of cancer, perhaps killed by his time wandering the streets and construction dumps. And now, for five years, we have had perfect Daisy--and she is.
All of that is background to why I love this from the New York Times:
A Cancer Patient's Best Friend
By SULEIKA JAOUAD
When I was growing up, my dream was to one day become a veterinarian. In fourth and fifth grade, I volunteered every day after school at a veterinarian's clinic. I didn't view it as an "internship" -- in my mind, I was apprenticing for a certain future in the field. When I was 10, I asked for an incubator for Christmas. By spring, I was carting around a dozen baby chicks in my purple doll stroller. In middle school I walked dogs at the local animal shelter. But as I got older, there was college, summer travel, then my first real job, at a law firm in France. I was entering the "real world," as they say in commencement speeches. And there was no room in my adult life for a dog.
Then, a year and a half ago, came my cancer diagnosis, and with it the return home. I found myself pleading with my parents for a puppy, just as I'd done as a child. But I knew the medical reality: My weakened immune system, the result of chemotherapy, made getting a dog impossible. My doctors didn't even think twice about rejecting the prospect, though I still made it a point of asking every few months.
In early September, I was shocked when I received a voice mail message from one of the nurses in the bone marrow transplant clinic. Instead of rescheduling an appointment or changing the dosage of one of my medications, she had dog-related news: My doctors had decided to give me the green light on adopting a furry friend. In fact, they encouraged it.