A Girl and her Dog: When Harvey met Ellie

Written by: Kayla Sykes

When I was 4 months pregnant I dropped my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and started crying. What started as a hormone induced tear fest over dropped food quickly turned into soak city. The main attraction was the mascara smeared water slide, and sausage toed rafts. I was hungry, fat, tired, and filled with hormones I couldn’t control. So I did what any pregnant woman on the verge of opening up her own water park would do, and I laid on the couch and turned on The Ellen Show.

In a moment of generous gift giving from Ellen, I noticed something laying on my baby bump. That something was Harvey. And this became the unforeseen moment of undeniable love. The love of a dog and a child.

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Before Ellie, there was Harvey. Harvey was “Mr. Man”, and if you know me personally, you know what Mr. Man sounds like in my obnoxious dog voice. I took him to a few bars in my purse, I used him as a therapy dog for students, and I celebrated all of his birthdays. Harvey Anderson was my halitosis doomed pride and joy.

On the day my giant baby bump turned into a person, Harvey awaited us at the door.  He followed us, but was more interested in the only thing in the world that was smaller than him. When I laid Ellie down on the bed, she smiled at Harvey. It was probably actually gas, but who’s keeping tabs? On that day I had all of my loves in one room. The tears of joy began again. I was one uncontrollable mess away from owning Soak City.

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All of the milestones in Ellie’s life have been met because of Harvey. I’m still convinced dog was her first word, but it might be the competitive part of me that doesn’t want to admit it was actually Dad, not Mom.  When Ellie began to crawl, it was to Harvey. I remember the moment of complete let down when I realized she was actually crawling past me, not to me. Harvey took comfort in the height of our pleather couch around this time. But unfortunately for Harvey, eventually Ellie began to pull herself up on said couch, because she was sick of not being able to grab his furry little face. Harvey began to run to another room at this time (which only made Ellie move faster).  The rapid growth of his best friend was becoming a little intimidating. She was beginning to outweigh him, and learning to move on her own. Together they learnt the struggles of compromise. Harvey reasoned some ear tugs in exchange for half of a blanket, and high chair dropped food; and together they shared the view from the floor. One a small dog, and one a crawling baby.

Just when Harvey became comfortable walking side by side with his crawling best friend, my ex-husband put Harvey in a Fisher Price grocery cart. On this day, Ellie began to walk. If you can imagine the unbalanced walk of a toddler pushing a grocery cart, imagine the fear Harvey felt. He was trapped! Trapped in utter love. Love of a growing toddler.
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It wasn’t until the beginning stages of my divorce when I realized how bonded these two really are. Up until the divorce, Ellie was home with me almost all of the time. I worked very part time, and her Dad was working a lot. After the initial shock of not having Mom a couple days a week, she started to cry for Harvey. But the cry was different. The cry was painful, she still does it sometimes. Harvey is very different those days as well. He has less energy, and sleeps under her bed. I’m actually balling while I type this, so I have to cut it short. But what I’m getting at is, the love of these two… It’s different than anything I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

The voice of a three year old belting her original songs throughout the house is a much different experience when a wiener dog is squeaking a toy to the melody. September wouldn’t be the same without obnoxious dog birthday parties. Slumber parties wouldn’t be the same without a tired plea for extra space for Harvey. Dentist visits wouldn’t be the same without a concerned voice explaining the awful breath of her dog. Doctor visits wouldn’t be the same without a tiny confession of accidentally letting a dog eat chocolate. A freshly bathed baby wouldn’t be the same without a chest full of black hair after a naked wet dog hug. Life wouldn’t be the same without a daily announcement of NO MORE CHOKE HOLDS! Meltdowns wouldn’t be the same without the calming bribe of loud noises hurting Harvey’s ears.  Beach visits wouldn’t be as hysterical without being publicly kicked out via intercom because no dogs are allowed. In a moment of distraction, Harvey may or may not have ran to the water skipping gracefully while he hopped after the geese. They’ve got this thing going on about geese chasing. I don’t understand it really, I’m still traumatized from getting bit by one 20 years ago.

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My ex Father-In-Law once told me that the bond between Ellie and Harvey was special, and it would last long after Harvey. I wasn’t sure what he meant then. But now I realize exactly what he meant. Our first loves never actually leave us. We learn from them, we grow with them, we laugh with them; and eventually we mourn for them. We learn all of the emotions there are in life from our first love. Some of us learn that from our long distance high school sweet heart, and others learn it from their wiener dog. The impact that first love has on us never actually leaves. Especially the first love of a dog. And Harvey is a special dog. Because according to Ellie, he is the one who made her so cute.

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I don’t know if he made her cute, I’m thinking her Dad and I have a lot to do with that, but this picture is pretty damn adorable… so maybe she’s right.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again. Ellie has love and compassion for all things living. I would like to take credit for that. I would like to tell the world that her Dad and I being the people we are, that heart she has, is because of us. And I’m sure there’s truth to that, but I can’t. I truly think that love and emotion a child learns at such a young age, is from a love different than parents can give. It’s from a special bond that was formed in the womb. A bond that is much different than Mommy’s voice, and heartbeats. That bond began with Harvey. The love of a child and a dog is big, so big. Bigger than a million sunsets in an open field, and it will swallow you whole.

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And a million sunsets in a world with these two, is exactly where I want to be.
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Thank you Kathy for documenting the years of their friendship. I look forward to many more hilarious pictures from you. If you liked the above pictures, check out http://www.photographybyk.com/

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Columnist, Writer for Radio Shows across the US & Canada, Promoter, Believer, Father

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Posted in Column, Discussion, Family, Feels, Funny, Kayla Sykes, Life, Motherhood, Parenting, photography, Pictures, Toledo

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