VERNON COUNTY - I can tell you’re leaving again. You start moving quicker around the house and you pile up stuff on the extra bed downstairs. I can sense that your heart rate is elevated, and you give off a different smell. You smell like you’re leaving.
We’re a pack. You, me, little Finnster, Pa, and all the rest of the gang here. I’m a pack animal. I’m at my best when we’re all one big happy family—and that means you need to stay home!
Maybe you haven't noticed how I bark and chase the car, snapping at the wheels, every time you pull out of the driveway without me in the car.
Maybe you’re oblivious to how I despise thunderstorms without you home to lie on top of me.
But surely you can see how I lurk near your feet with every step you take when I can tell you’re packing up to go away.
I may be big, but I’m also a baby. I may look intimidating, but I get scared. It may sound like I’m barking, but inside I’m crying. And I don’t like babysitters. I like you, Mom.
I mean, Chuck’s okay. She gives me pats and bones and tells me I’m a good girl. Erika and John take me for walks and think I’m funny when I run around the porch like my tail is on fire. But you’re my mom, and there is no one else in the whole wide world like you. I love you.
If I promise to never take Finn’s bone from him again, will you stay home?
If I promise not to sit and bark while you’re writing, will you stay home?
If I promise I won’t take myself for an extended walk anymore, once we get back to the car after our walk, will you stay home?
If the answer is yes to any of these, I’ll try my best! But I guess I can’t promise…
After all, I’m Téte, short for Zarité. I’m a solid black hunk of burning-energy dog. I can run all day long. I can leap over logs. I can chase the cats, even though I’m not supposed to.
Do you remember when you used to tell me how pretty I was and what a good girl I was, almost every second of every day? Remember what Pa said then? He got all huffy about it one night and said, “Why don’t you just marry Téte?” You laughed and laughed and accused him of being jealous.
For weeks afterwards, you’d look at me when Pa was in the room and say, “Will you marry me, Téte?” And Pa would get all crabby with you. But really, I’d marry you in a flash, Mom, especially if you promise never to go away on one of your trips again.
That dog-trainer guy I wasn’t too crazy about told you I have separation anxiety. You chuckled and said, “Please don’t be labeling my dog.” But it’s true. I hate it when you leave. I hate it when Pa leaves. And I really hate it when you go and take Finn with you and leave me home alone.
I know, you’ll say, “Téte! I’ve never left you home alone. If I need to be away, I always hire a babysitter for you.” But who wants a babysitter? I. Want. You.
Mom, will you marry me? Please?