“All this happened, more or less.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
It surprised me how much I wanted the Dude. I grew up with a boy dog and with the exception of Ex2’s golden boy, my life was bitch-centric. And so it goes.
I reached out to this breeder not long after Alli was gone, fully knowing I wouldn’t be ready for a new addition for a long time. Sure, I stalked a few breeders and rescue groups online over the past 18 months or so, I asked questions and commented on photos. Of course I watched other GSP families in social media groups gain puppies and lose their minds along the way. I saw their hearts break when dogs were lost.
A great deal of time spent mourning Alli was just living in the memories and it was a triumph when I hit the point where I laughed more often that I cried when I thought of her. When I could walk by the tacky little box of her and smile. And so it goes.
All those memories are my time travel, which I suppose is why I liked Slaughterhouse-Five so much. Yes, it’s about war, but it’s about trauma and the psychology of trauma, which was something I wasn’t equipped for as a 19 year-old rape survivor. I big part of coping with my own trauma was imagining that somewhere, I was alive at every point of my life—somewhere I was being born, somewhere it was my awesome birthday at the New Kids on the Block concert, and somewhere I was dying and didn’t feel so terrible anymore. Since I was only aware of the moment I was actually living in, there was comfort in the idea that I was better off at another point of my life, known to me or not. Billy Pilgrim made more sense to me than Jack Daniels at that time in my life.
I loved how Vonnegut projected himself into a fictional character, Billy Pilgrim, but also appeared himself a couple times. I loved how Billy bounced around the different spaces of his life, from tragedy to tragedy to being okay without feeling sorry for himself.
But Uncle Kurt, as I started calling Mr. Vonnegut, was also so damned funny.
How does that saying go? If you look at the world and feel, you’ll cry, but if you look at the world and think, you’ll laugh.
I don’t believe it 100%, you gotta feel a little, just don’t marinate in it or it will drown you. You gotta laugh.
At an AA meeting, they said Uncle Kurt’s prayer, and the girl with his prayer taped to her door thought they stole from him. His words kept her sane. His words kept her safe.
That was I. That was me. I was there.
Some writers just get in our brain space, holding court. Teaching us, scolding us, reminding us, and helping us figure out who we are.
Uncle Kurt did that for me. He probably saved my life a couple times.
So it only made sense that the Dude, who is a dog, and dogs had also saved my life, is named Vonnegut.
While it seemed a little ridiculous to travel to Milwaukee to pick-up a dog, he was the right fit for our family. He was born on February 13, which is the anniversary of the start of the bombing of Dresden in World War II, which is why Slaughterhouse-Five exists. He wasn’t expected—the x-rays appeared to show seven puppies, so number eight was a surprise. He was nine. He has a heart-shaped spot on his back.
I flew up to get him the Saturday after the engine exploded during a flight many miles east of here and a passenger was partially sucked out the window. The passenger died later. Our flight to Milwaukee was full. I sat in the aisle. The flight back home was not full. All the open seats were all window seats. And so it goes.
Joey is tolerating him really well. She’s a well-behaved eight year old, so she plays nanny more than anything, teaching him the order of their beautiful, intuitive world.