I grew up without a pet.
Yes, let’s take a moment of silence for my childhood.
OK, moment over.
In all honesty, I don’t feel that I missed out on not having a pet. I grew up with three younger siblings, which was good enough for me. Also, I had a slight fear of dogs, especially big dogs. I realize now that my irrational fear stemmed from the fact that I was never around dogs. I’m still uneasy about the large ones, yet my fear has slowly subsided within the past few years thanks to the military. I’ll explain in a moment how the military has helped with my minor phobia, but first let me introduce you to Skittles.
You can call Skittles my gateway dog.
Skittles is a twelve-year-old Yorkshire Terrier and my husband’s childhood pet. You can call Skittles my gateway dog. I was seventeen when I met him and as my relationship with Kristofer developed so did my love for this little animal. In fact, my husband actually proposed to me with the help of Mr. Skittles. He tied my engagement ring around his collar before we went out to walk him on a chilly December night in 2012. After we got married, my in-laws downsized to an apartment that prohibits pets. Not wanting to give him up completely, they asked us to take Skittles and we happily obliged.
Prior to Skittles, I could not understand why people obsess over their pets. I did not understand the sinking feeling of temporarily losing your pet because it wandered off. I scoffed at dog owners who cried over the passing of their beloved pooch. Skittles has enabled me to understand. I’m not at the point where I would cry over him or any other dog, but I can now relate to the connection between human and canine. This connection is the main reason I believe every military spouse needs a dog, specifically those without children.
Deployments, trainings, and just about any other duty will separate us from our other half for usually long periods of time. These long periods mean military spouses are left completely alone for weeks to months at a time. Most spouses are not fortunate enough to visit their extended family during these moments, so we’re obligated to wait. In loneliness, we wait.
A dog is the perfect companion for a military spouse. Having a dog eases the loneliness. A dog stops you from going completely insane in isolation. A dog gives you a reason to get up, get out, and get moving every morning. A dog listens without judgement. A dog will make you giggle. A dog remains by your side all day and all night. During the days you’re down the most, a dog is there to lick your tears away. A dog is someone you can hold close and tight when you’re missing the love of your life.
Just about every military family I’ve met has one or two (or even three) dogs. Since becoming an army wife, I’ve been introduced to dogs of different sizes, shapes, and breeds. One way to get rid of a fear is by facing it. As I mentioned before, I was scared of dogs. Being introduced to so many dogs through other military families has not only eliminated my fear, but it has actually allowed me to embrace it.
While I’m now at ease around other fur balls, only one has my heart. I’m truly grateful to have Skittles in my life. I’ve been in Kansas for a little less than two years and in that stretch my husband has left way more than I would like. It may seem silly to some, but the old little pup has been my saving grace during those times. Had it not been for the rental policy, I know my in-laws would have kept Skittles. I guess everything happens for a reason and Skittles belonged over the rainbow in Kansas with us.