If you are a pet owner, you know about nose prints.
They show up on your patio doors, windows, windshield — anywhere your pet decides it’s interesting to watch the world outside. When you have more than one pet, you can tell whose nose prints are whose by how high they are off the floor. Sometimes they’re wet and smudgy, so you know there’s been a lot of snorting and barking going on, and other times they are perfect impressions, like the heart-shaped nose prints the cat leaves on the bay window.
I’ve tried to keep up with cleaning nose prints, but as soon as I wipe them away, they’re back. Sometimes I forget about them, or don’t notice them until a whole strip of window is covered and I think, ‘didn’t I just clean that?’ It seemed to be a never-ending battle, then…
A few years ago, we lost both of our dogs in a short span of time. The first dog, Adora, was sixteen and had been our ball dog, always wanting to fetch, always carrying a ball around the house. She would catch balls bounced off the garage roof, swim after them in the lake, and dig through the snow to find them. Because of her, we went outside every day, rain, shine, or snow. She was an Australian Shepard mix, and though her name was Adora, we mostly called her Ora, Dee Dee, or by her rapper name, Doggie-D.
Our other dog, Jackson, was a black lab/shepherd mix who took off hats, no matter what kind. When someone came over with baseball hat, a winter cap, anything, he would gingerly step his front paws into their lap, gently take off the hat, then hand it back to the owner with a big wag of his tail.
If you rubbed the side of Jackson’s face, just along the whiskers, he made a snarly face like Elvis. He also barked at the bust of Elvis our friends had at their house, so we called him the Elvis-spotting dog. We also called him Bilbo Beggins, Mookie Bobo, The Black Panter and many, many more.
Jackson died somewhat quickly of kidney failure at only nine years old. He’d been losing weight, but since we’d just lost Adora we didn’t realize he was sick. We just thought he was sad; that he missed her. She’d been there since the day we brought him home from the animal shelter at ten weeks old.
We gave him water infusions under the skin. We gave him medicine. He threw up a lot. The fur on his face turned gray. We did our best to save him, but in a short amount of time he faded away.
After he was gone, whenever I would sit in the living room I would see those nose prints on the patio door. He would never make another. He would never ask to go out again. He would never press his nose up against that door, transfixed, watching the fat squirrels run across the top of the fence in the back yard.
For months I couldn’t bring myself to wash them off, and neither could my husband. I would run my fingers across them and think to myself that I would wash nose prints off windows all day long just to have him back. All day and all night.
I look at everything I love from that perspective now. All things we love leave nose prints.
I love where I live but the winters are so darn long and cold — nose print. My husband is amazing, but never fills the ice cube trays — nose print. He lets it go that I leave my socks all over the house, just like those pesky nose prints.
We need to learn to let the small things go, because in the great scheme of things, it isn’t what really matters. What matters is that we love what we love while we have the chance. Everything else is just nose prints.
For a long time after losing our dogs, the thought of getting another dog made us feel miserable and guilty. No dog would be able to compare. We would never love another dog like we had loved those two.
I still think that’s true, no one will ever love two pets the same way; because no two pets are the same.
And by loving them we are not the same.
When we decided to get another dog, we needed something different, so we found someone who had a litter of ‘oops’ puppies, and brought home a four pound mini-dachshund. Then we began another journey with another set of nose prints, this time much daintier and much closer to the floor.
After many months I finally wiped those tall nose prints off the patio door.
They returned in full force a year later, when we rescued another mini-dachshund, Frank, who was two years old. He’s a bit taller than Penny, so now we have two parallel nose print lines across the bottom of the patio door, one a slight bit higher than the other.
And I can’t express how much I love seeing them there.