A Girl and Her Dog

I should have named you shadow
Not as a noun, but a verb
As you have followed me everywhere
Since the first day we met.
I remember that day vividly
How you sat anxiously in the backseat of my car
Pacing from one side window to the other
With eyes wide open
Taking in the world for the first time
As I drove us home.
The first 9 months of your life were "sheltered"
You sat hungry for attention tied to a rope
In the back bedroom of your first human's home
She said you went through many ropes
Graduating eventually to chains.
I made it a point to take you everywhere I went
Vowing to show you the world
And each time that car door opened
You flew in
Taking on your new role of co-pilot with pride
But your sheltered days still haunted you
I remember the way you cried the first time I shut the bedroom door
Or tied you in the yard to play
I hugged you and apologized
Sorry I didn't intuitively know how traumatizing that would be
We've experienced job changes, new homes, new cars, and new relationships together
And for each mistake I made along the way
You love never wavered
And when some of my days were unnecessarily long
You didn't complain
I don't generally speak in absolutes
But you ALWAYS greet me with an endless supply of joy
Your stuffed animal hanging from your mouth
And your tail wagging a mile a minute
Your smile contagious
Your love forgiving
Lately, I can't help but notice the grey around your smile
Or each new fatty tumor that makes a home on your belly
Or the slight limp you try to hide from me on our morning walks
Or how I now have to lift you into the car
And I'm saddened
As I can't imagine my life without you
You have been my rock
My cheerleader and my best friend
And so I wish to the stars
And pray to the Gods
That we may have many lifetimes together
Because one is clearly just not enough
And a girl should not be without her shadow.