Monday, July 16, 2018

Throw a Birthday Party For Your Dog

I'm trying to organize all kinds of files and folders on my computer this week (generally when I get a new computer I just dump everything from the old one to the new and then forget about it, which is I suppose why, now that I'm finally organizing, I found a folder, nested probably five folders deep under various titles like "Backup" and "Julie's Old Computer" and "C Drive," entitled "FLOPPY DISKS." And in that folder? Like, essays that I wrote as a freshman in college! Treasures!), and going through some photos, it occurs to me that I never showed you pictures of the birthday party that Will threw for Luna!

Yes, we are apparently the people who throw a birthday party for their dog. But it goes like this:

Will isn't what you'd call a "people person," but it's important to me that she be comfortable practicing all the social conventions, including playing party host. I mean, of course! She hasn't wanted a birthday party since she was nine, which is totally cool, but I always offer. And so when the one-year anniversary of Luna's adoption date started to roll around, I asked Will if she wanted to throw a birthday party for her dog, expecting the same polite refusal that she gives me every year when her birthday starts to roll around.

I was stoked, and SURPRISED, when she said, "Sure!" and was super into the idea!

But it makes sense. Don't you always want to do more for the ones you love than you want to do even for yourself?

Nevertheless, I pointedly helped Will plan a pretty chill party, just a few people, just a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. Just about the perfect amount of social time for the world's most introverted introvert. Will took care to invite the people she knew who she knew liked Luna the most, and I did a girl and her dog photo shoot with her so that we could make postcard invitations, which is by far my favorite type of invitation.

It was one of those parties that was so chill that I didn't even take many photos, and the ones that I DID take are terrible. Here, for instance, is the birthday cake halfway through the party, apparently, and also poorly lit:

Sydney made it for the party. The number above the bone is a 4; the shelter told us that Luna was probably around 3 years old when we got her, so we decided that this was her fourth birthday party.

Will made Luna a homemade birthday pupcake, frosted with peanut butter and decorated with a big dog bone:

Luna normally LOVES people, but unfortunately there was a severe thunderstorm that lasted the entire evening of the party, and Luna is absolutely terrified of thunderstorms. She spent nearly her entire party under Will's bed, with the children leading pilgrimages of guests to go pay homage to her. They lured her out for birthday cake, but all she was able to bring herself to do was lick the frosting some before going to hide again.

To be fair to Luna, the tornado sirens actually went off about five minutes after the above photo, and I herded all the child guests, plates of cake and all, into the girls' bathroom in the center of the house, while we adults stood around and listened to the weather radio and wondered if we were too lazy to get everyone outside to the root cellar.

We were too lazy, and the kids seemed just as happy to stand shoulder to shoulder eating cake in a tiny bathroom while a siren blared as they were to do it sitting on the carpet in the playroom. 

For dinner, Matt grilled hot dogs (thankfully before it started storming!), and we had a DIY hot dog bar. We printed this poster of different styles of hot dogs--which still fascinates me, by the way, and my goal is now to go through them all--and offered a lot of random toppings, including this, the BEST chili for a chili dog.

During a two-hour birthday party, I figured there'd be just enough time to eat, do one activity, have cake, and hang out for a little while before everyone went home, so Will and I decided that for the activity, we'd let everyone metal stamp their own dog tags:

It's one of my favorite all-purpose crafts, because kids and adults like it and can do it, and the dog tag blanks are really cheap, so after you've spent the money once for the metal stamps, you're golden.

For those of you who are in Girl Scouts, these also make terrific SWAPS!

On the invitation, Will had told everyone that no presents were necessary, but they could bring a donation for the Humane Society if they wanted. Sweet friends, but they pretty much all brought donations AND a birthday present for Luna, and if that isn't the nicest and cutest thing that you've ever heard of, then I don't know what is. Will's grandparents even heard about the party and sent her a card and gift by mail from across the country!

The village that this kid has just astounds me. She doesn't exactly hide her light under a bushel, but in a lot of ways she's very different from other kids, and so solitary and independent by choice that it amazes me to see that people do know her, and do accept her for who she is, and do like her. I wouldn't call this one of the gifts that Luna, specifically, has given her, because I've seen many people come to know and love my brilliant introvert for who she is without a dog by her side, but I will say that Luna is a gift that makes Will more accessible to know and love for who she is. Not everyone wants to talk pop culture semiotics with Will, or national and world politics, or about books, even, although honestly, who wouldn't want to talk books? Not everyone wants to spend all their time with someone sitting next to them and reading, occasionally looking up to comment and briefly converse about what one is reading, but then continuing to read. 

But when Will is with Luna, she isn't so much just the brilliant introvert; she's also a kid with a dog, and just about everyone knows how to interact with a kid with a dog. You know how to talk to a kid with a dog, and you know what you have in common with her, and if you're the kind of person who'd happily attend a birthday party for a dog, well, then you probably can accept that kid for who she is, too.

A birthday party is such a small thing to give back to a creature who's given so much.

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