When I was sixteen, I experienced a few difficult months. Stage 4B testicular cancer had reshaped my body, spirit, and worldview. Over time, I found peace and solace in family, friends, and new found vision. However, in the immediate days following my treatments, I struggled to find meaning and purpose. My parents did everything they could to improve my outlook, and they were stellar in that capacity, but what really helped pull me out of a dark place was a pint-sized dachshund that we named Lance.
Named in honor of Lance Armstrong, famed cyclist and now notorious social figure, our dachshund possessed a similar tenacity to that of the Tour de France victor. However, that is likely where the comparison ends. I highly doubt that Armstrong barks relentlessly at inanimate objects and obscure noises, digs fervently between his washer and dryer units until otherwise distracted, or is baited from such situations with dog treats or “Scooby Snacks” as Lance has come to know them.
Beyond Lance’s territorial, obsessive, and relentless behavior exists a compassionate, loyal, and understanding dog. While he may sometimes defiantly urinate on personal belongings or in his self-proclaimed areas of the home, he will also lay with you, protect you with every bit of his fifteen pound frame, and affectionately steal your shoes and socks. For years I witnessed his antics, and as he is now well into his elderly years, I am coming to appreciate the short but meaningful life that he lives. While he resides within the confines of a beautiful home and spacious backyard–one that would feel small to a larger dog but likely represents itself as an endless farm to Lance, the impression he has made on our family, and the unconditional love that he showered me with during difficult times, will extend beyond any parameters that he will likely ever know or see.
The scrappy hot dog will probably only get scrappier in his golden years. He sometimes shows shades of his youth, and he also has his senior moments, but to me, he will always be the puppy that our family brought home in a cardboard box over a decade ago.
“Dogs and philosophers do the greatest good and get the fewest rewards.” -Diogenes of Sinope, Greek Philosopher