“My dog’s collars represent my life story”
Growing up, Lauren’s most trusted companion was her dog, Digit.
I would tell my dog how I would feel, holding on to her and hugging her, or crying into her fur. I felt like I could open up and tell her anything. I could be myself with her.
In her dog’s collars, on display here, Lauren sees the progression of her adolescence and maturity into adulthood. Digit’s first collar was the green one (far left).
The green collar, in its simplicity, reminds me of how innocent I was as a child – I thought people were true to who they were. It did not take long for me to discover that many were not.
Digit’s subsequent two collars – the fire collar and the braided collar (middle) represent for Lauren a transitional stage in her adolescence, or what she refers to as her “emo” stage.
The fire collar was from a time in my teenaged life where I thought life was horrible, even though – looking back – I had it quite easy. The blue and black braided collar is from when I started to discover who I was and where I belonged in the world. During these periods, I parted ways with a lot of friends as our interests and values diverged, but Digit was always by my side.
Digit’s last collar (right) has a Sesame Street design.
The Sesame Street collar was Digit’s around the time I decided to transfer to CSUSB. Though I still wasn’t exactly sure where my life was going, I was starting to become more accepting of who I was. I no longer cared as much what people thought of me – like, that I love the characters from Sesame Street, or that I think Disney songs are amazing. People can judge me all day for those things!
The Sesame Street collar would be Digit’s final one before she grew old and had to be put down.
I’ve gone through some rough patches recently, and it has been a struggle to manage those stresses without the comfort of a warm friend. I used to turn to my dog for both a listening ear and hugs. would go to my parents too, but my dog was a ‘go-to’ for many life changes. Without Digit, I’ve had to learn how to deal with problems on my own, though I’d like to believe she is still with me in spirit.
Lauren holds onto Digit’s collars as a memento of not only their relationship together, but also her own continuing journey into adulthood.When Digit was dying, she used all of her energy to lift her head up and rest it on my hand. It was heartbreaking for me, but it was helpful for making a decision to let the vet help her go in peace. This was Digit’s last act of helping me to become an adult -- I was such a cautious and shy kid when I got her. With Digit to lean on, I really came into my own. I miss Digit, particularly when life has its challenges. At these times, I have to remind myself to share my feelings with my family and others, and that it’s okay to get help when I’m hurting.