I talk too much, especially when I am excited or angry… and I am easily excited… and easily angered. Over the years I have employed countless strategies to improve my listening skills and control my garrulous nature (I also toss ‘big words’ into the mix, which drives my husband crazy). Despite my best efforts, I remain a chatter box and although I force a smile when family and friends make jokes about my ramblings, deep down I feel ashamed.
Growing up, I remember listening to my mother nattering into the phone receiver for hours, barely pausing for breath. I knew that she was that woman – the person who ‘trapped’ others into prolonged, one-sided conversations that bored the bejesus out of them. And while I loved my mother dearly, I did not want to be anything like her. Yet here I am.
I like to think that there’s a genetic component, an errant strand of DNA that renders me incapable of succinct communication. But I know that’s an unlikely theory and that the truth points more to nurture than to nature. So I blame my mother (because we all secretly blame our mothers for everything) and I beat myself up for my lack of self-control. The voice inside my head (which is just as verbose as its external counterpart) constantly reminds me of my flaws and leads me to wonder how anyone can put up with me, let alone like or even love me.
Then I look at the backside of our entrance door, permanently scarred by the non-ending assaults of Buster the family schnauzer. I think of all the things that we have done to fix his ‘problem’… trainers, treats, clickers, barriers, collars that make noise, collars that emit smells… Yet here he is, nearing the halfway point of his expected lifetime and still unable to control himself when the doorbell rings. Is it his breed? Something I did wrong when he was a puppy? Who knows. The cause makes little difference at this point. The reality is that Buster is not the perfect dog. Actually, that is an understatement. Buster is a highly flawed pet and there are times when he frazzles, frustrates and infuriates every member of the family.
But Buster is well-loved. Earlier this year, he ran from a friend’s home and was lost for nearly a week. Dozens of people searched for him through cold winter days and even colder nights, including folks that he has jumped on, barked at, and otherwise annoyed. I was overwhelmed by their efforts and deeply touched by how much they cared about my dog and about me.
I am not sure that I will ever be the person I want to be. Maybe it is my destiny to be that woman (at least when I am excited or angry). But life with Buster has taught me that love is an inexplicable force. When you love, you love in spite of imperfections and maybe sometimes, those imperfections even make you love a little more.