Years of being single soured me on the concept of Valentine's Day. Chaperoning middle school Valentine's Day dances didn't do much to help it either. Watching tween drama unfold between slow dances and attempted mosh-pit melees would give me enough of a headache that I had no desire to interact with any other people for the rest of the day.
Even when in a committed relationship, the idea of forced romance made me wary. Isn't corporate America just trying to sell me something? I'd wonder cynically. Shouldn't we love with our whole hearts every day of the year?
Of course my mom always sent me a Valentine's Day card no matter what was going on in my life, and that was always a lovely mood booster. Valentine's Day is in February, of course, the cold month of post-holiday doldrums and abandoned New Year's resolutions. Getting a reminder of unconditional love from someone - even if it's my mom - is always nice.
Which brings me to my dogs. Since childhood, dogs have been the primary reminder that I am tolerable and OK. Maybe even more. The greetings they offer make me feel like a rock star - who else would be that excited to see someone?
No matter the state I'm in, my dogs are thrilled to see me come home. They pick up on my moods and respond accordingly. If I'm happy, they're happy. If I'm sad, they'll offer solace.
Every day I take stock of what I am grateful for, and every day they make the list. It doesn't matter if somebody knocked over my tea with a wagging tail, stole crackers off of the kitchen counter, or vomited on his newly washed blanket (all in one week). These dogs make my life much fuller. I have taken sick time from work to drive them to specialists, have had to sit on hold while waiting to talk to the pet insurance company, and have had to put socializing on the back burner to take care of them. And I don't think twice about doing any of that.
For our Valentine's Day, we don't do anything special necessarily - chocolate is out of the question, and fancy restaurants would banish us for life - but I do take the time to be particularly thankful for all that they have brought to my life. They offer love that is true and pure, and that fills my heart to no end. They are my valentines every single year.