I don’t think I’ve mentioned this week just how much I love my dog. And even though I know that Kelly is groaning and thinking to herself, “Not another post about dogs!” I’m going to write it anyway. (She’s a cat person, I can’t expect much else from her.) (And at least it isn’t a post about Russian.) (Yet.)
At the moment, Cooper is laying on top of one of my feet, and staring at me as if to say, “you could be scratching my ears.” He does that often. Although sometimes the stare means, “you could be rubbing my belly,” or “I’m hungry.” It’s hard to tell. But usually, it’s one of those three things. And the thing is, most of the time, I’ll stop what I’m doing and scratch his ears, rub his belly, or feed him. Because I figure, in the long run, I get back a hell of a lot more than I’m giving, and if I can make him happy with a couple of my potato chips, so be it.
It’s win-win. I never eat all the chips anyway. They’d just go to waste.
But really. Even when I want to kill him because he’s counter-surfed an entire new loaf of light bread, I can’t help but love him, because:
1. He’s always there when I need him. ALWAYS. When I’m sad. When it’s the middle of the night and I wake up and become convinced that someone is breaking into the apartment. When I’m lonely. Most importantly, when I’m anxious. He functions like a service dog to me, alerting and responding to panic attacks – better than any human I’ve ever encountered. He simply knows what to do, and does it. No questions, no judgement.
2. He has the softest ears in the whole wide world, and he lets me play with them as much as I want. I turn them inside out. I massage them. They’re great. Sometimes, he lets me play with his lips too, but he has to be pretty tired for that.
3. He used to fit on my chest. And he had the sweetest puppy breath. And I could hold him in my hands. And… Oh, God, I want a puppy. NEXT PICTURE. ABORT PUPPY PICTURES!
4. Sometimes he has puppy dreams and starts woofing and running in his sleep. Then he wakes up all disoriented, I scratch his ears, he licks me on the nose, and we snuggle. It makes me feel useful. And it’s very cute.
He also snores. Which is only cute some of the time.
5. He’s really great with the Monkey Boy. I don’t have to worry about him doing anything that would hurt the kids. He’s tolerated tackling, tail pulling, toy wrestling, and pillow throwing. In short: More than I would have tolerated. Either way, they’re suited for each other.
6. He’s smart, and more importantly, willing to learn Russian with me (which is more than I can say for most of my Russian-hating friends). We’ve been working on the Russian commands for a few months down and he’s pretty much got the commands for sit, down, wait, come, let’s go, okay, and go potty. We aren’t completely there yet, but he’s working on it. Also, he’s the only one who doesn’t mind being spoken to in Russian. Everyone else stares at me like I’ve grown an extra head. He just wags his tail, happy to be included in the conversation.
7. He is a willing participant in photo shoots, and allows me to test out new camera settings, techniques, and lenses on him. All he asks for in return is the occasional bowl of popcorn.
8. He is always happy to see me, and he never wants me to go away. In the mornings, when I make the first move to get out of bed, he typically lays his head on my chest and sighs heavily. If that doesn’t work, he’ll throw a paw over my stomach for good measure, and wiggle as close to me as possible. He REALLY hates early mornings. If I’m home, he wants to be next to me. If I’m leaving, he curls up on the couch and stares at me with The Look. But when I get back, there is pouncing and bounding in circles and merriment. Only my mother reacts more enthusiastically to my arrival home.
He doesn’t make fun of me when I do something stupid.
He doesn’t expect anything from me, or ask for anything other than a little love and food.
When I talk, he listens, without changing the topic to something he’d rather talk about. He never tells me that I’m wrong, and he always finds me interesting. He never gets tired of listening to me talk about my problems.
He is quick to forgive me when I lose my temper with him. He just wants to make me happy.
No matter what I do, or how badly I mess up, I am still the center of his world, and he will love me unconditionally.
A few weeks ago, at Kelly’s house, I had a sensory meltdown. Sensory processing issues go along with my OCD, and while they aren’t always a problem, when they spring up, they’re nasty.
Sensory meltdowns aren’t remotely enjoyable. But what I really remember about the whole thing is that, while I was there trying to make sense of the overstimulation, I just kept thinking that I really wanted to go home to my dog.
I’ve never been a real people person. I have some amazing friends, whom I wouldn’t trade for the world, but it’s taken me years to really get close to some of them. I work with people, and I even enjoy some of them. I find people fascinating, but also confusing, and frustrating, and a little bit scary. I can’t always understand people – but Cooper? Him, I get. He just is – it’s all out there on the table, with him.
And in case it wasn’t clear, I love the little dork. He’s my boy. Even when he’s drinking out of the toilet.