Everybody Loves Steve
I am married to the nicest man in the world. That is a fact. Everybody loves Steve. I am good with this and have accepted that all of my friends and family will go on (and on) about how nice he is and what a great guy he is. Some will even tell me repeatedly that Steve is a Saint because he is married to me. That always makes me feel really great about myself. That is because in lame stereotypes, I am a sassy woman, I’m a handful, I wear pants (possibly the pants), I like to shop and I am an independent little lady. I have also tolerated my own mother looking back at the times in my relationship with Steve that were difficult, due to moving to pursue my career and having her tell me repeatedly how lucky I am that he didn’t just dump me right then and there for someone who is a little easier. Thanks Mom. Everybody loves Steve.
It is not just people who love Steve. All animals love Steve too. I have seen him move cattle by gently waving his arm, moving his body and talking to them. No yelling, cattle prod or cowboy antics required. He can also train horses in a round pen and make them want to follow him like a dog. Just like in the Horse Whisperer movie. I have witnessed as he calls over the free-range pigs that he is caring for and the 250 pound sows come running over to him like dogs. He will then jump the fence and drop a sow to the ground by giving her a shoulder rub. She will lie there, all four legs in the air, asking for a belly rub, eyes closed, and smiling. (Yes, pigs really smile)
Then there are our pets. They also love him more. When I lost my 18 ½ year old cat, Cool (who also loved Steve more), to a spectacular bout of renal failure and pancreatic cancer and being really freaking old, Steve declared a cat hiatus in our household. He wanted a feline holiday, a break from cats stomping all over the bed when we were trying to sleep, a break from cat hair everywhere, and especially a pause from a litter box in the house, which is, by all accounts, a disgusting thing. I agreed, but days later, I met Romeow. Romeow was a gorgeous brown tabby who had literally fallen off the anatomy truck. Stray cats that are going to be euthanized are sometimes brought in to the anatomy department at veterinary schools. They are humanely euthanized and then dissected for teaching and research. (Although I still do not understand how you do research in anatomy. I thought that this had been pretty much worked out by now.) Most of the cats that head this way are cats in trouble. They are sick, old, homeless, unwanted and feral. Romeow was a healthy big brown tabby who was rolling around, purring and kneading the air. Hard to dissect that. Romeow then found his way to the blood donor program at our veterinary school. I have coveted the brown tabby product for years, so as soon as I saw him I knew that he would have to come home with me. It was a perfect solution because he had to be a blood donor for one year before he could be adopted. So we save a cat from dissection, get a blood donor for a year, I get my brown tabby cat and Steve gets his cat holiday. Perfect. Only problem was that Romeow was rejected from the program due to testing positive for a blood-borne parasite, so I had to take him home sooner. Cat holiday went from one-year to just 3 ½ weeks. Steve was not impressed. Romeow, on the other hand, was pretty happy about his new situation and likely oblivious to the fact that he dodged both being an anatomy specimen and living in a veterinary hospital for a year. Romeow also loved Steve. He would sit on his lap and purr, squinting and drooling. Drooling large puddles of love all over Steve. I have never seen a cat drool like that. Steve was chosen as his person, even though he didn’t actually want Romeow.
More recently, we got our current dog, Rumble. I was also the driving force behind getting this dog. I searched high and low for the perfect pound puppy. Rumble was supposed to be our shared dog, but of course, I had hoped that he would love me a little more. I think I needed him to love me more. He loves me a lot, but I am definitely #2. He is a heeler cross and he loves Steve with all of the intensity and focus of a herding dog. I do feel loved by my dog, but I also feel like a bit of a farce when I travel the country and do media appearances with my Lucky Dog and I don’t tell people that the dog actually loves Steve more. Steve always try to play this down, but I know that he knows that Rumble’s heart belongs to him. My role in my very spoiled dog’s life is chief disciplinarian and protector (he always runs to me when he is scared), but he gives Steve his unconditional love. Ironically, Steve will argue that dogs don’t really feel love, happiness, jealousy, hurt, angry or other human emotions the way that we do and I will argue vehemently that they do. Steve doesn’t even believe in the love that my dog gives him. Everybody loves Steve.
I have had dogs who chose me in my life. Twice. Dogs that were mine. Being the most important person in a dog’s life is one of the most beautiful feelings in the world. It is impossible to force or recreate. You can’t tell a dog or cat who they are supposed to belong to. They decide. I have threatened to just keep bringing home more animals until one of them finally picks me. Surely at some point, one dog, cat, pig or rat would see my deep love of animals and choose me. But the problem is, I am not sure how many animals I would need to drag home with me until I am chosen. This game of love Russian roulette might result in a pride of cats and a pack of dogs and I still might not get to have that pure sweet love and devotion once they meet Steve.
And so, I have to let go of my ego and just enjoy watching the bond between Steve and Romeow, and Steve and Rumble. I watch and find joy as Steve wrestles with our silly dog or the way that he gives Romeow a bath or his patented cat-hypnotizing eye rubs. Even though I have devoted my entire life to animals and I know that I have always had a way with them, Steve has more of a way with them. It is one of his many gifts. My friends have even taken to making up a voice every time a dog approaches Steve. Whether the dog knows him or not, it is always the same approach, a happy, smiling dog with a wagging tail. My friends always add in the sound effects. The dog is clearly saying, “Steeeeeeve!!” Everybody loves Steve.
Along with the other humans, dogs, cats, cows, pigs and horses, I have also chosen Steve to be my person. He has all of my love and devotion because of the way he is with me, and everyone around him. There is just something about him. He is my #1. And so, I as I try to brush away the petty jealousy that all of our pets seem to love him more, I also just fall into the fold with the rest of them and understand why. He is my person. Everyone loves Steve.