Whether one admits it or not, we all have a bucket list. There are things we want to do before our time on this planet is done. One of my biggest bucket list items was to apply my special beliefs and theories of raising a child. I spent my life looking for someone that shared those beliefs. That was the key to finding a partner for this experiment. As one can tell, I did not find that person. I know now the bar was way too high. My hopes and expectations were unrealistic.

When November of 2011 rolled around, I decided to give my child rearing theories a shot. I did not have a child, did not have a prospective mother, and did not have the desire to adopt as a single dad. I would try them on a dog.  My only chance to try my theories would be on a dog. 

On Thanksgiving weekend of 2011 I brought home a dog. A rescue dog. Not a pup to raise from scratch. The first few years, in retrospect, were hilarious. Imagine a bachelor father has an instant teenage daughter. My dog was not going to put up with my behavior, and I was growing quite weary of hers. But real love, IMHO, is a funny thing. It is better when we work at it. I said I was committed to that dog even though I did look for another home for her. People laughed at me trying to pawn her off, even though I was going to be picky about who I would give her to. It was like they knew we were made for each other. My dog and I stayed together. And we grew together.

I tried a relationship with a woman. My dog wanted a family, and seriously, I did too. When that blew up, I got to experience, with my dog, what it must feel like to watch your children go through divorce. Heartbreak. Sadness. Change. My dog had bonded with her. She saw my commitment to the relationship. Both of us were never the same. We both lost innocence. My dog always believed you should love her, and if you didn’t, give it some time. After the death of the relationship, my dog changed. She was never as confident.

For four years I tried to bring her confidence back. In some ways she had it, others not so much. But there is one thing my dog knew. I loved her with all of my heart. I did not give her the life I wanted her to have. I destroyed her innocent joy of being with people. I failed to deliver the life I promised to deliver.

But the most important part of my child rearing theory was this. I wanted my kid to know I loved them with all of my heart. Since I never had a kid, my dog got to feel that. My dog was my surrogate.  So while I failed at delivering the life I wanted for my dog, I succeeded at one thing. Love. Real love. Not today’s sugar coated love. Real love. I delivered it to Lucy, and that makes me celebrate Father’s day for me. She would have wanted it.

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