I heard the dog’s feet hit the floor at 3:15 this morning. “Uh-oh,” I thought to myself, “that can’t be good.” At our house, a dog wandering in the house in the middle of the night is never a good sound. I selfishly rolled over and went back to sleep, thinking it could be dealt with later. I heard her toddle through the bedroom moments later, looking for a place to sleep. “Whew! All’s well,” I thought.
The sound of paws going down the staircase at 4:15 put me in full alert. DEFCON 4! Klaxons’ “ah-oo-gah’s” and buzzers buzzing were piercing the silence, ringing loudly in my head. I had no choice but to do it: I elbowed the snoring lump next to me and said, “go check on the dog, she’s been downstairs twice in the last hour.” And then I went back to sleep. Again.
The dog returned upstairs ahead of the husband. She quietly slunked into a corner. He went to wash his hands — it took too long — and then quietly crawled into bed. “Did she make a mess,” I asked innocently. “No,” he said, “a great big Great Dane did.” We have a Cairn Terrier; A small Cairn Terrier. After a good giggle together, he kissed me goodnight (or good morning?) rolled over and went to sleep. I got up. Who could sleep after all that?
Love and selflessness is about getting a dog when your (then) five-year-old wants one. Saying yes when your wife promises she will be the one to take care of it: feed it, walk it, handle the unexpected messes. Love is knowing, deep down, that you will be the one who remembers to feed the dog because everyone else forgot. It is knowing — from the beginning — that you will be the guy walking the dog, regardless of the rain, snow or ridiculously hot temperatures.
And selflessness is getting jabbed in the middle of the night to clean up royal messes because you know your wife cannot stomach it. It is quietly taking care of the little things that are really big things and never complaining, never saying “you owe me one,” or keeping score. It is about being able to laugh at 4:30 a.m. about dog messes and say I love you in the same breath.
“We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” –Mother Theresa