by Laura Sylvester
Last night I had to explain to Elliot why he couldn’t have the gluten dairy ice cream sandwich he had seen me eating. “You’re allergic to these, Bud, they’ll make you sick. I’ll go to the store tomorrow and get you an ice cream cookie, I promise.” He walked away depleted, head down and mumbled something as he passed Rick. “What did he say?” I asked Rick. “no tomorrow…tonight” Rick said to me… we looked at each other and smiled. Until last night I was not sure I would ever know if Elliot understood the concept of present and future. Plus he used a 3 word sentence that was unique to him -- not a sentence he was prompted to say or a sentence he had memorized from a Disney movie, but his own words. This was a night to treasure. And, YES I did go to the store today and I get him a gluten free ice cream cookie and he smiled ear to ear as he ate the whole thing.
Now he sleeps in his bed and I wonder if he has any idea of what tomorrow brings. He has written the countdown number on the chalkboard everyday for 30 days. He helped me paint the new doggie-door door. He has seen the basket of toys next to the fireplace fill with toys. We have even heard him say “good puppy” several times this week. But I wonder if it’s just a script, a line from a movie he is repeating. Is he saying it because he knows or is it just a coincidence? Again, I wonder if I will ever know.
Maybe it’s good if he doesn’t know or, like me, he would be too excited to sleep, wishing -- No Tomorrow…Tonight!
But then I remember that, like Elliot, Orbit is snug in his bed with the only family, the only pack, he has ever known. He is snuggled in with Tim and Elise who have cared for him, loved him and trained him since he was 6 weeks old. And, all of a sudden I am grateful that he will come tomorrow… not tonight. That he gets one more night with his first pack, which includes his Rescue Dog friends. The pack he has grown up with, frolicked in the hills of Northern California with. So, for now, both Orbit and Elliot are asleep in their beds, and I don’t think either of them knows that tomorrow their lives are going to change. For me, I can’t stop the excitement, the wondering. What does tomorrow hold for us? The day I have dreamed of…worked for…? (Although it never felt like work!) What will it mean for Elliot to have a companion of his own? And then it hits me -- a thought that brings me to tears -- nearly 20 years ago a yellow Lab changed my life… I wonder if a yellow Lab will change his.