I don’t know if I’ve ever been as thankful for a complete stranger as I am for the vet technician who hit my dog with her car and killed my dog — which, I know, sounds strange. Allow me to explain.
Eric and I were sharing a studio apartment in an old, creaky building in Philadelphia. Eric is whip-smart and clever, with the ability to make jokes about Greek mythology and Dwayne Johnson movies in equal measure during any conversation. I never knew what he’d say next, which is why I wasn’t exactly surprised when he woke up one morning and told me he had a dream we had a dog named “Na-Han-Zee,” a name seemingly made up in the subconscious of his unpredictable brain.
Two years later — after I graduated college, we relocated to Los Angeles, he proposed, and I said yes — Eric and I found ourselves at an animal shelter, where he noticed a tiny Chihuahua shaking in the corner, instead of yapping with the other dogs for our attention. This was very much an Eric thing, gravitating toward the underdog. (He roots for the Miami Dolphins and his favorite Game of Thrones character is Podrick.) So, Eric and I went into the meet-and-greet room and that shy underdog nudged herself under my arm, her entire body shaking against my thigh. This was our Nahanzee.
I’ve come to remember this entire event through the lens of love, not pain.
Nah liked being held, so much so I began working with her on my lap and typing with my elbows extended upward. It was uncomfortable, but I loved her. And her desire to be close wasn’t confined to the apartment. At the dog park, Nah would run to greet a dog, suddenly stop, calculate the distance between us, and return to our side. She did this over and over, always halfway to making new dog friends before returning to Eric and me.
When Eric or I weren’t holding Nah, she would nestle next to Rufus, our first dog, who is docile and extremely intelligent. I know everyone thinks their dog is smart, but I once caught Rufus standing on his back legs trying to turn a doorknob with his front paws — you know, like a human opening a door — so he really is smart. My in-laws…